HomeNewsBriefWhy Is Nicaragua 7 Times Less Violent Than Honduras?
BRIEF

Why Is Nicaragua 7 Times Less Violent Than Honduras?

HONDURAS / 29 AUG 2016 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

A newspaper in violence-plagued Honduras investigated why Nicaragua enjoyed a much lower homicide rate and credited its neighbor's relatively professional and efficient police force for keeping the peace. But the answer isn't that simple.

El Heraldo recently traveled to Nicaragua to find out why the homicide rate there is just 8 per 100,000 inhabitants, while Honduras has only recently shed its dubious title as the world's murder capital. Despite a decline in homicides in recent years, at 57 per 100,000 inhabitants Honduras remains one of the most violent countries in Latin America.

The newspaper attributes Nicaragua's low levels of violence to the purging and modernization of its police force, which began in the 1990s and continued until 2007. Following the lengthy reform process, Nicaragua implemented a policy that emphasized community policing and violence prevention. 

"It is estimated that the [homicide] rate is just 8 per 100,000," a video accompanying the article reads. "That is thanks to the 'Preventive, Proactive and Community' police model."

Some 79 percent of the population approves of the police force, according to official statistics cited by El Heraldo, and under 5 percent of Nicaraguans consider crime to be the country's biggest problem. In contrast, 48 percent of all Hondurans surveyed in December 2015 said they have no confidence whatsoever in the police. (pdf)

El Heraldo states Honduras should "follow these steps" in order to improve its own security situation. It noted that this process is already underway, with the creation of a new commission to purge the civil police force of corrupt officers. The police reform commission recently presented to Honduras' Attorney General's Office cases against 455 officers accused of involvement in illicit activity. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Police reform is undoubtedly a key element to Nicaragua's security success relative to its neighbors like Honduras. And building off the police reform commission's achievements thus far in Honduras will be vital if the authorities hope to clean up a force that has long been plagued by corruption

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Police Reform 

But El Heraldo's narrow focus on police reform underestimates the role of criminal actors in influencing homicide rates. Criminal pacts in El Salvador and Colombia have shown that agreements between key underworld players can have as big or bigger an impact on insecurity than any government strategy.

In other words, effective policing is only one side of the story. The violent street gangs and drug trafficking organizations that pervade Honduras are largely absent in Nicaragua. To understand the contrasting security fortunes in Nicaragua and Honduras, the criminal disparity must be considered alongside the disparity in the quality of the two countries' police forces. 

Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, noted in September 2015 the difficulty of separating the respective impact that policing and organized crime have on violence levels.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

HOMICIDES / 20 APR 2017

Authorities in Honduras say that their fight against organized crime is responsible for the country's plateauing homicide rate, highlighting…

BRAZIL / 22 JAN 2018

Rio De Janeiro’s Police Pacification Units (UPPs), already suffering from crippling budget cuts and broken public confidence, are refusing to…

NICARAGUA / 6 AUG 2012

A Nicaraguan drug transport gang, the Reñazco family is believed to move cocaine shipments along Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast and provide…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Criminal Enterprise on the High Seas

12 AUG 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the second half of an extensive investigation into Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing that plagues the waters of nine Latin American countries. Among the stories were how…

THE ORGANIZATION

Oceans Pillaged in Central America and the Caribbean

5 AUG 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the first installment of a nine-part investigation uncovering the hidden depths of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in Latin America. The first installment covered Central America and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela’s Tren de Aragua Becomes Truly Transnational

29 JUL 2022

This week, InSight Crime published a deep dive into the total control that Venezuelan mega-gang, Tren de Aragua, has over the lives of those it smuggles between Venezuela and Chile…

THE ORGANIZATION

Turkish Traffickers Delivering Latin American Cocaine to Persian Gulf

15 JUL 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the second half of an investigation piecing together the emerging role of Turkish cocaine traffickers in supplying Russia and the Persian Gulf, which are among…

THE ORGANIZATION

Turkey as a Lynchpin in European Cocaine Pipeline

8 JUL 2022

InSight Crime is extending its investigation into the cocaine pipeline to Europe, and tracking the growing connections between Latin American drug traffickers and European criminal organizations. This led us to…