Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, violence persists.

Violence persists despite the pandemic.

3.04.2020 – The present

Starting Story of This COVID-19 pandemic

Iris Argentina Alvarez, a protector of the territory in the south of the nation, was killed in a violent eviction on April 2 while the country was still under the absolute curfew and state of emergency enacted on March 16 by the administration of Juan Orlando Hernández, and prior to the entry of COVID-19 pandemic. The incident happened when a private security firm forcibly evicted about sixty families.

Human rights organisations draw attention to the duty of the Honduras National Police, who are in charge of upholding order in a nation whose travel is supposedly restricted to delivering food and medication. Those same institution’s data indicate that more than 13,000 people have been detained since April 1 for disobeying these regulations.

The Secretary of Security and the Military Forces have been in charge of developing a plan to stop the virus’ spread in Honduras, but in addition to distributing food and producing masks, they have come under fire for allegedly breaching human rights and failing to reduce the number of fatalities. The country is violent.
Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 22 March 2020: Despite the strict curfew and the request for isolation in homes, individuals are still moving throughout the city. A Honduran army officer is speaking with a driver at a military checkpoint in the Toncontn region. Martin Calyx is pictured.

Violence During Curfew COVID-19 pandemic

In the Los Chanchos neighbourhood in the municipality of Marco via, Choluteca, private security agents from the sugar company La Grecia allegedly started the violent eviction process by confronting the families who in 2019 occupied several blocks of the property to plant essential goods, according to complaints made by Hedme Castro, general coordinator of the Association for Participatory Citizenship (ACI PARTICIPA). Iris Argentina was killed while they were shooting at women, children, and the elderly. Although the police did not take part, they permitted people to be shot, according to Castro, proving that there was an alliance between the businessmen.

These territorial defence-related facts are just one indication that violence in the nation continues on an ongoing basis. March 19th, 2014, Thursday. On March 26, when the first death from the COVID-19 pandemic in the nation was made official, it was also reported as the day with the most murders during the quarantine, so far. Three men were killed in a massacre in the Las Colinas neighbourhood of the Lopez Arellano sector of Coloma, Cortés, and similarly, it was noted that day had the most murders during the quarantine, so far.

According to the Online Police Statistics System (SEPOL), in March 2020, 225 homicides were recorded. This represents a reduction in relation to the 299 in February and 269 in January, however, the same average of last year is maintained during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to data from the Violence Observatory of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (OV UNAH), the daily average number of murders in the first quarter of 2019 was 9 people. A report by Insight Crime indicates that Honduras closed last year as the most violent country in Central America with 41.2 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Migdonia Ayestas, director of the OV UNAH, assured that “those who live from illegal actions do not matter if they are in quarantine, because on the contrary, they have a greater opportunity to commit crimes, the only thing that has decreased is the violent deaths of employees of the public transport but it is because there is no public transport”.

Another pandemic with lots of violence after 100 years

The health crisis (COVID-19 pandemic) has not diminished the violence, but it has left families without the possibility of watching over the bodies of their loved ones given the provisions of the National Risk Management System (SINAGER) that limit ceremonies to avoid the concentration of people. These same provisions indicate that “local governments must locate land suitable for mass graves in case of mass burials when the local capacity for handling corpses is exceeded during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A driver shows his identity documents to a Honduran National Police officer at a checkpoint on Los Procures boulevard, Tegucigalpa, March 27, 2020. Photo: Martín Calyx.
Human rights violations

Because they are employing the curfew to make selective arrests, the suspension of constitutional protections “implies a blatant violation of human rights, like the one that occurred with those families,”, “said Castro, and assures that now the evicted families in Choluteca are sleeping on the street exposed to the virus.

A report by the Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH) includes at least 22,000 human rights violations, including suspension of workers, evictions, and illegal detentions made by the National Police and the Armed Forces since the beginning of the suspension of guarantees. Until March 31st. The virus containment strategy proposed by President Juan Orlando Hernández has been led from day one by the police and the army. In their social networks, they have established an advertising strategy in which they show themselves as heroes in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the COFADEH report, in addition to the budget being changed and public health resources being mobilized in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, “the State security forces and bodies,” including the Army and the National Research Directorate, have been mobilized for the first time in the past ten years. While unquestionably important, these actions appear to constitute a barrier to protecting individual rights and enforcing the law, according to the report’s conclusion.

In addition to all of the surveillance and support responsibilities assigned to the Armed Forces, Juan Orlando Hernández also gave the Military Industry, which is generally in charge of manufacturing military gear, the responsibility of constructing fabric masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I requested that the manufacturing of surgical gowns, plastic masks, and masks be increased. Hernández stated that it needs to have its installed capacity repowered. The creation of fabric masks may require a larger security expenditure in the future because of the possibility of infection brought on by humidity, liquid diffusion, and virus retention, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. It is conceivable to draw comparisons between the National Police and the Armed Forces’ inability to put an end to violence even in the midst of the epidemic and the cotton masks’ failure.

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