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Honduras Presidential Candidates Lay Out Security Plans

HONDURAS / 30 OCT 2013 BY CHARLES PARKINSON EN

Presidential candidates in Honduras' upcoming elections have laid out their planned security policies for the violence ravaged country, although it remains to be seen whether any candidate is capable of effectively addressing the nation's critical and deeply ingrained problems.

With less than a month to go before Hondurans go to the polls on November 24 to choose a successor to current President Porfirio Lobo, candidates and their representatives presented their plans for security at the forum "Building a Political Consensus for Security and Justice in Honduras," reported El Heraldo.

As reported by La Tribuna, consistent themes among the eight candidates were the promotion of social inclusion and community policing, while the conservative National Party candidate, Juan Orlando Hernandez -- one of the three frontrunners who was not present -- emphasized the use of the recently deployed Military Police of Public Order (POMP), which he proposed as a congressman.

The forum came days after reports in the Honduran press highlighting the persecution and assassination of local politicians and candidates for upcoming municipal elections.

InSight Crime Analysis

While violence in Honduras has been noticeably rising since 2005, it was the coup in 2009 to oust then-president Manuel Zelaya that precipitated the current security crisis. Foreign drug trafficking organizations were quick to take advantage of the chaos and political instability that followed and Honduras began a decline that some have characterized as a slide towards becoming a "narco-state."

Recent polls showed Hernandez narrowly leading the race with 28 percent of respondents saying they would vote for him compared to 27 percent for Zelaya's wife Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, and with Liberal Party candidate Mauricio Villeda trialing on 17 percent. With Zelaya close to victory, it raises the possibility of a major shift in the country's political status quo as she is standing as a candidate for the newly created Libre (Free) Party and so could break half a century of domination by the country's two traditional parties, the National and the Liberal parties.

However, even if the grip of Honduras' traditional political elite is loosened it is unlikely these elections will reverse the tide of insecurity in the country. Whoever wins will not only face powerful and wealthy foreign drug cartels, but also the growing influence of homegrown groups and deeply rooted corruption that permeates state institutions, the political, business and social elites, the police and the army. 

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