This joining of the police with the military is a major concern. It increases the risk of human rights abuses by security forces who are trained for war scenarios, not for keeping the peace.
Today I asked a community leader for the RGS Congregation which was more powerful, the military police or the gangs. She claimed that the military police and the gangs have joined together. The MS 13 gang controls the police and another gang controls the military.
Although Honduras has greatly increased its military police to "confront the rising level of violence," there is no evidence of an abatement of gang violence. When I visited Bajo Aguan, it was apparent that residents saw the military police not as a force to control the gangs but rather as an occupying force.
When I met with a group of community leaders, we discussed the root causes of immigration. As usual, poverty and violence were mentioned. Also small businesses have failed because of the state taxes and extortion by the gangs. Since 20 percent of Honduras GNP is remittances from the United States, pressure is put on people to emigrate in order to send money back home.
The community leaders claimed that the government has focused on the wrong things. Instead of trying to improve education, health care, and other societal needs, the government has focused on repressing its citizens. Small wonder people want to leave!
The money the United States gives to Honduras simply strengthens their military police. It does not provide needed aid to its citizens.