The most violent nation in the world is Honduras, with more murders per capita (92 per 100,000) than even Iraq or Afghanistan and twenty times more than the United States. It is now getting worse, as a wave of brutal killings sweep over the nation in the run-up to the country’s elections on November 24. The left-leaning opposition Partido Libertad y Refundación (Liberty and Refoundation, or LIBRE) has emerged as the target of choice in the majority of attacks. Honduras’ recent troubles grow directly out of the events of June 2009, when a military coup removed democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya (2006-2009). Honduras, one of the last Latin American nations to move toward authentic democracy, had been slowly constructing democratic political institutions until the coup. But with this one stroke, Honduras’ nascent democratization suffered a damaging blow from which it has yet to recover. Honduras, a Tennessee-sized country of 8.4 million people, is in many respects Latin America’s most unreconstructed nation. It only began the process of democratization in the 1980s and its economy is still built around unprocessed agricultural exports—chiefly coffee and bananas—produced on latifundio plantations and the beginnings of a maquila industry. The nation’s GDP per capita is under $4,000 USD PPP (purchasing parity power), ranking near the bottom of all Latin American nations.
Recent Honduran elections reliably produced right-wing, pro-neoliberal leadership, and the 2005 outcome appeared at first to be no different, with center-right candidate Manuel Zelaya of the Partido Liberal de Honduras (Liberal Party of Honduras, or PLH) winning the presidency.
But Zelaya, to the increasing dismay of the nation’s ruling elites, began to drift toward the left. Particularly troubling to business leaders was Zelaya’s support for a boost in the Honduran minimum wage. In December 2008, Zelaya backed an increase in the monthly $33 USD rural wage minimum to $213 USD, and likewise raised the urban monthly minimum wage from $109 to $290 USD.
The business elite, with many invested in the maquila industry, responded with outrage, and moved swiftly to re-energize the traditional Latin American oligarchy of church, military, and economic power in opposition to President Zelaya. Most effective was their use of the mass media, nearly all branches of which are controlled by the nation’s various elites.
Full Article: Spiking pre-election violence in Honduras | Latina Lista.