Prior to its 2009 coup d’état, five years ago on June 28, Honduras rarely made headlines in the U.S. Since the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya, however, the Central American nation has received a lot of bad press. It is in the spotlight again for the recent surge of unaccompanied Honduran minors crossing U.S. borders.
Of the 47,000 children apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol since October, 28 percent, or more than 13,000, came from Honduras. This is a whopping 1,272 percent increase over the number apprehended on the border in 2009.
A source at Honduras’ National Human Rights Commission told the media that at least one person per day comes to the commission hoping to get asylum overseas, due to violence and poverty — both of which are increasingly out of control.
The surge in the number of children fleeing the country says a lot about what has happened in Honduras since the coup. First, the military takeover, which was supported by the Obama administration, broke Honduras’ already weak institutions. Second, with rampant corruption and police impunity, crime has spiraled out of control. Third, state security forces have engaged in a bloody campaign of political and social persecution, killing people who opposed the coup, campesinos, indigenous protesters and others. Journalists are routinely threatened; many are murdered. Honduran generals, politicians and their friends in the media have openly condemned and slandered human rights workers. Authorities have leveled bogus charges at some of Honduras’ most well-known and respected rights defenders and journalists in an effort to discredit them.