Successive US-bound migrant caravans from Central America this year have invigorated Washington’s concerns regarding the region’s endemic migration drivers. In this article, Edgard Garrido recounts for Reuters this heart-wrenching experience in Honduras, describing a climate of insecurity, violence, and poverty that drives many desperate Hondurans to emigrate.
Honduras has for years been one of the world’s most murderous countries. Though official data show the homicide rate has fallen sharply, it continues to be a highly challenging environment in which to work.
According to Honduran government figures, the homicide rate reached 86 per 100,000 people in 2011-2012. This year, the rate should end below 40 per 100,000, the security ministry says. This compares to the latest statistics in the United States, where there were 5.3 murders per 100,000 in 2017, according to the FBI’s most recent report on its website.
Danger in Honduras is never far away.
During my roughly three months spent in Honduras in 2018, I photographed mothers waiting at the morgue for the bodies of murdered sons and daughters, police keeping watch over corpses left lying on streets after shootouts and families wailing over the coffins of loved ones.
Blanco, 37, lived in the Japon neighborhood, a breeding ground for gang violence, according to local authorities. It was here that I experienced the most tense moment of my time in Honduras, as I moved between police, soldiers, gang members, forensic experts, hearse drivers and pastors.
At Blanco’s funeral, I was stopped by a young man with piercing eyes, one green and one blue. He demanded to know why I was there.
I explained that I was a journalist taking photographs of the event. But the youth kept pressing me with questions about what had brought me to Blanco’s funeral. As I continued taking the photos, I felt increasingly uncomfortable.
Finally, the tension eased when one of Blanco’s friends intervened, saying that the grieving family had authorized my presence.