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Inside Story Americas

Healing Honduras

What can be expected after two leading Honduras gangs agree to cease violence, but will not turn in their weapons?

Last Modified: 29 May 2013 11:09
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In Honduras, the MS-13 and 18th street gangs have announced from a prison that they will stop their killing and extortion and in return, they want the government to provide job training programmes and facilitate their rehabilitation in the society.

[Because of US involvement] the country has become a democracy-free neo-liberal zone whose resources are being auctioned off to the highest bidder and anybody who protests that, is labelled a criminal,  gang member or a terrorist even.

Adrienne Pine, professor of anthropology at American University

Masked members of the groups, also known as the Mara Salvatrucha and the Calle 18 gangs, made separate announcements from within the San Pedro Sula prison in northern Honduras, which houses the country's most violent criminals.

But while the gangs have also called on security forces to stop their violence, Romulo Emiliani, the Roman Catholic Bishop, who mediated talks, says peace may take some time. 

"The atmosphere in the country is extremely violent and revenge killings are going to continue. I calculate that it will take two generations for any of this to change in Honduras," he said.

Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world.

And it is struggling to cope with drug trafficking and gang violence, there are also land disputes and the political turmoil that has followed the 2009 coup that deposed President Manuel Zelaya.   

However, there is hope that Honduras will follow the example of neighbouring El Salvador, where gang leaders agreed to a truce last year that sharply reduced the number of violent deaths.

Although the two street gangs have agreed to end the violence but have refused to turn in their weapons, so how will it impact on one of the most dangerous countries in the world?

Inside Story Americas, with presenter Shihab Rattansi, discusses with guests: Adrienne Pine, a professor of anthropology at American University who has worked in Honduras; and Thomas Ward, a professor of anthropology at the University of Southern California, he specialises in youth violence and gangs.

"I see the Honduran gang truce between the two largest gangs falling on the coat tails of El Salvador as a way of negotiating with the government to try to ameliorate the situation."

Thomas Ward,  professor at University of Southern California

Surviving Hurricane Sandy

As President Obama toured the shore line that seven months ago saw major damage after Hurricane Sandy, he highlighted the progress that has been made. But he was careful to point out that there remains a long road to recovery.

I am really concerned about the public housing residents who are in many ways getting the short end of the stick.

Joe Kupferman, the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project

Hurricane Sandy was classified as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season becoming the second-costliest hurricane in the history of US.

Now, a year later, tens of thousands of families are still displaced while other residents say that they are still dealing with mould infestations.

And although undocumented workers have played a vital role in helping the region rebuild, many of them have not received the help they need after their homes were destroyed.

To discuss the aftermath, we are joined by guests: Aria Doe, the executive director of the Action Center, a community based organisation in Brooklyn, New York which has been focusing on recovery efforts after Hurricane Sandy; and Joe Kupferman, the executive director of the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project.

"I would put it back into the hands of the people who donated and say it is just not enough to click and then to move on but find out and hold people accountable to make sure that the people who need it the most are the people who are getting it."

Aria Doe, The Action Center

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