Thursday, January 19, 2012

Peace Corps exits Honduras in face of rising drug violence, skyrocketing murders

Washington - The United States Peace Corps announced Tuesday (Jan. 17) that it had pulled 158 volunteers out of Honduras while it reviews the security situation in a country feeling the full brunt of the international narcotics trade. All of the volunteers have left, and have been placed on indefinite administrative leave. The decision was made in December.

A spokesperson for the National Autonomous University of Honduras in the capital city of Tegucigalpa told CNN, "It is unfortunate that in the country right now - given the situation of insecurity, violence and crime that every day increases - international organizations are pulling back their aid and personnel."

According to a United Nations report, in 2011 Honduras had 82 murders per 100,000 - the world's highest homicide rate. On December 28, the Honduran minister of defense, Marlon Pascua, called for U.S. military assistance and said that over 100 tons of cocaine are shipped annually from its territory to the U.S., "where the consumers are." Some U.S. law enforcement sources think that estimate is less than half of what actually is passing through the impoverished nation each year.

The Peace Corps sent it first volunteers to Honduras in 1963. It has also suspended plans to send new volunteers to El Salvador and Guatemala.

Honduras "invaded by drug traffickers"
Guatemala "almost bankrupt" by drug violence, human trafficking and sex trade
Guatemalan army will lead drug war

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