Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández dropped by the U.S. Southern Command in Miami last week to talk about security in Central America. Or the utter lack of security in Central America. Honduras has the highest murder rate on Earth, and things are almost as deadly in neighboring Guatemala and El Salvador.
That’s why the Southcom visit was a nifty photo op for Hernández — who'd like the world to believe that he’s having to wage a war with vicious narco-gangs solely because Americans have an insatiable appetite for drugs.
“This is a problem they generate,” he said last month. “Those who produce drugs and those who consume them in the North,” he claimed, are responsible for Honduras’ lawless nightmare.
It’s a charge Hernández and his counterparts in Guatemala and El Salvador are trumpeting a lot lately, as tens of thousands of Central American children flood the U.S. border to escape the violence. But it’s also a shamelessly hypocritical spin.
Hernández is half right. The U.S. — not just its drug lust but the damage it helped wreak on the isthmus during the civil wars of the 1980s — is considerably liable for the Central American crisis. But it's hardly the only culprit. Hernández and the rest of the region’s ruling class are just as guilty for making Central America so vulnerable to murderous mafias. Actually, more guilty.
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Tim Padgett is WLRN's Americas editor.