Why The Military Presence In Honduras Is Tangible

Three heavily-armed Honduran soldiers stared at me with imposing glares as I approached them. My fifteen-year-old invincibility (or blind innocence) led me straight to the real-life army men.

In June 2005, I traveled to Tegucigalpa, Honduras with about a 25-person peer group for some volunteer work and a little bit of vacation time. A trip full of eye-opening experiences ended in a drastic case of food poisoning.

The one-hour bus ride seemed like an eternity, but we eventually arrived at the San Pedro Sula airport to wait for our departure flight.

The boredom of waiting on a bench seemed unbearable, so my friends and I decided to wander. We noticed three military men walking in front of us. They paused to scout the crowd and our eyes glued themselves to the sight of their giant guns.

I asked in poor Spanish if I could take a picture with them. Two agreed hesitantly while the other appeared a bit alarmed. Fortunately, my Kodak disposable camera had one picture left on the film role.

Reasons for Strong Military Presence

Honduras experienced military rule and successive coups from 1955 to 1979, followed by “seven consecutive presidential elections”. Ricardo Maduro was inaugurated as the Honduran President in 2002.

According to the US Department of State, “Maduro's first act as President was to deploy a joint police-military force to the streets to permit wider neighborhood patrols in the ongoing fight against the country's massive crime and gang problem.”

Civil wars in neighboring Nicaragua and El Salvador in the 1980s influenced the Honduran government to focus military force on organized crime and drug trafficking.

Honduras experienced another coup in 2009, though the country still operates as a democratic republic.

*By: Tom Malone
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