Honduras: child, journalist murders continue

At least five Honduran minors recently deported from the US were among the 42 children murdered in the northern city of San Pedro Sula, Cortés department, since February, according to Hector Hernández, who heads the city's morgue. The number could be as high as 10, he told Los Angeles Times reporter Cindy Carcamo. In June and July the administration of US president Barack Obama responded to a dramatic increase of tens of thousands of Central American minors seeking refuge in the US by emphasizing that most will be repatriated; the administration even arranged and publicized a special deportation flight of mothers with young children to San Pedro Sula on July 14 . But Carcamo's reporting suggests that publicity won't be enough to stop youths from trying to flee gang violence in Honduras. "There are many youngsters who only three days after they've been deported are killed, shot by a firearm," Hernández said. "They return just to die."

One San Pedro Sula resident told Carcamo that a teenage cousin was shot dead just hours after arriving on a deportation flight. The resident refused to identify himself or the victim for fear of reprisal from neighborhood gangs. "I would be killing my entire family," he said. The morgue reported 594 homicides in the region around the city as of mid-July; the toll for all of last year was 778. (LAT, Aug. 16, from correspondent)

The murders of Honduran journalists continue. Nery Soto Torres, who directed a TV program on Channel 23, was gunned down Aug. 14 in front of his home in Olanchito in the northern department of Yoro. The authorities said the killers didn't steal anything from the victim. Soto was the seventh journalist murdered in Honduras this year; the sixth was Herlyn Espinal, whose body was found on July 21 at a ranch between La Barca and Santa Rita municipalities in Yoro. The National Human Rights Commission (CONADEH) says a total of 47 media workers have been killed since November 2003 and 91% of the cases have not resulted in convictions. A group of journalists held a march in Olanchito on Aug. 19 to demand a prompt and thorough investigation of Soto's killing. Most investigations of journalists' murders "are completely abandoned," Miguel Romero, president of the Yoro Journalists Association, said at the march. (Latin American Herald Tribune, Aug. 17, from EFE; Washington Post, Aug. 19, from AP; La Prensa, San Pedro Sula, Aug. 19, from EFE)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, August 24.