June 24, 2014

Updated US Travel Warning for Honduras, June 24

Map of Honduras

The US State Department issued a new travel warning today for US citizens planning to go to Honduras.

Here are some of the highlights [emphasis is mine]:

The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens that the level of crime and violence in Honduras remains critically high....

U.S. citizens are victims of crime at levels similar to those of the local population, and do not appear to be targeted based on their nationality. Although Roatan/Bay Islands, Copan Mayan ruins, and other tourist destinations and resorts have a lower crime rate than other parts of the country, thefts, break-ins, assaults, and murders do occur and are still high by international standards. In 2012, the Government of Honduras increased police presence and established special police forces in areas frequented by tourists, such as the Copan Mayan ruins and Roatan....

Tourists traveling with group tours also report fewer criminal incidents. However, the San Pedro Sula area has seen armed robberies against tourist vans, minibuses, and cars traveling from the airport to area hotels, and there have also been armed robberies along the road to Copan. Visitors are strongly urged to exercise caution in discussing travel plans in public.

Several U.S. citizens have reported being robbed while walking on isolated beaches....The vast majority of cruise line passengers in Honduras experience no problems, but incidents of armed robbery and carjacking have been reported. Coxen Hole on the island of Roatan should be avoided after dark. The vast majority of serious crimes in Honduras, including those against U.S. citizens, are never solved.

Members of the Honduran National Police have been known to engage in criminal activity, including murder and car theft. The government of Honduras lacks sufficient resources to properly investigate and prosecute cases, and police often lack vehicles or fuel to respond to calls for assistance. In practice, this means police may take hours to arrive at the scene of a violent crime, or may not respond at all. As a result, criminals operate with a high degree of impunity throughout Honduras. The Honduran government is still in the early stages of substantial reforms to its criminal justice institutions.

Kidnappings remain a concern and are believed to be underreported. Since January 1, 2012, four cases of kidnapped U.S. citizens were reported to the U.S. Embassy. The kidnapping victims were all subsequently released, sometimes paying large ransoms to their captors.

.....Most of Honduras’ major cities (Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba, and others), as well as several Honduran “departments” (a geographic designation similar to U.S. states) have homicide rates higher than the national average for 2013, including:

Atlántida La Ceiba
Colón Trujillo
Cortés San Pedro Sula
Ocotepeque Ocotepeque
Yoro Yoro

There are no reliable statistics for the department of Gracias a Dios; however, travelers to the area should note that it is a remote location where narcotics trafficking is frequent, infrastructure is weak, government services are limited, and police or military presence is scarce....


The travel warning notes that Honduras has had the highest murder rate in the world since 2010 and also gives both the Minister of Security's calculated murder rate for 2013 (75.6 per 100,000) and the Observatorio de la Violencia murder rate (79 per 100,000). I believe shows that the US government does not rely on the Minister of Security's "official" statistics.

Please read the entire warning at the US State Department website. It includes links to other information as well as safety and reporting tips.

This time the State Department did not include the number of US citizens murdered since 2008. In the December 2013 travel warning, it was 50 US citizens, of which only two cases had been solved. With each warning, the State Department changes the period for which they report the number of murders of US citizens so that it is impossible to quantify the current year. Very annoying.

I was looking at my blog about the June 2013 US Travel Warning and I see that I predicted that the Minister of Security would be manipulating the 2013 crime statistics! At that time, Corrales had forbidden police agents from talking to reporters. About that same time in 2013 was when he stopped providing crime data to the Observatorio.

Recent related articles:
June 22: Honduras solves its crime problem
June 23: The Observatorio will continue publishing crime reports

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