Letters to the Editor

Senator Leahy: Honduras falters despite U.S. assistance

In the June 4 opinion article, U.S. has special responsibility to help Honduras, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, home from a quick visit to Honduras, describes a government that is on the “right path” and a “committed security partner” for the United States.

I have no doubt that Rubio met Honduran officials who told him they plan to reform the police, reduce corruption and violent crime, create jobs and protect human rights.

I have heard those same promises since I first visited Honduras in 1993.

Since then, U.S. taxpayers have provided many hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to address these very problems.

Yet, Honduras is far worse off today than it was in 1993. Almost nothing I have been told by successive Honduran government officials has turned out to be the truth.

Corruption is endemic in Honduras, and as long as top officials who have benefited from such crimes remain in office, little will change.

Nor will things improve if critics of the government are demonized, harassed and killed.

Berta Caceres, a respected environmentalist, like many other Honduran social activists and journalists, was recently murdered.

She long was the target of threats and attacks that were tolerated and even encouraged by some in the government.

Although Honduras’ dysfunctional justice system has a conviction rate for homicide of under 5 percent, the government refuses to accept an independent, international group of experts to investigate Caceres’ death.

Rubio is correct that the United States, as the primary consumer of illicit drugs, and Honduras have a common interest in addressing the poverty, impunity and official complicity that have enabled the drug trafficking, corruption and violence to flourish.

Patrick Leahy,

U.S. senator,

Washington, D.C.