March 25, 2008

Country Report:: Honduras

I ran across an excellent report of the (non-excellent) state of affairs in Honduras. The report was done by the Bertelsmann foundation. If you have a strong interest in Honduras, I highly recommend that you read it. I've included some overly long quotes from the report:

Freedom of Expression

Freedoms of opinion and the press, while enshrined in the law, are not fully reflected in practice. Because the exclusively private press, radio and television market is highly concentrated and dominated by some of the politically and economically most powerful individuals or families, there is little plurality of opinion.

Censorship is not exercised openly by the state, but it continues to be informally carried out by other political and economic powers, particularly through bribery and through the dismissal or intimidation of critical journalists. While former President Maduro seemed to have negotiated with media owners, the Zelaya government is said to keep journalists docile by directly offering them legal or illegal advantages that may range from accompanying the president on journeys abroad to cash payments.

Prosecution of Office Abuse

Political and bureaucratic corruption is still endemic and citizens consider corruption one of the most urgent problems impairing good governance. In 2006, the U.S. government withdrew its financial aid to Honduran counter-narcotic institutions, such as the Consejo Nacional Contra el Narcotráfico (CNCN), claiming that it had evidence that corrupt high-ranking officials were systematically sabotaging anti-drug trafficking efforts in the country.

Initiatives by the government and the legislature to prosecute corrupt officials and end impunity (e.g., the approbation of the “Ley de transparencia y de acceso a la información pública” in 2006), are largely seen as a mere image campaign by the political elite. Overall, anti-corruption measures have so far proven ineffective, primarily due to the judicial system’s inefficiency and lack of independence. This applies not only to the courts, but also to state prosecution authorities. In the period under review, convictions of corrupt officials have occurred - for example, that of Ramón Romero, former director of the migration agency, in 2005 - but only very few.

Effective Power to Govern

In general, the elected government commands the effective power to govern despite the fact that important economic groups and drug trafficking interests hold de facto veto powers. President Zelaya expressed in an informal meeting with civil society representatives his belief that about 70% of the police is infiltrated by organized crime.

Sounds dismal, doesn't it?
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