State Department issues warning on Honduras

Los Angeles Times Travel editor

Increasing violence in Honduras has prompted the State Department to issue a warning for that country, which has what the U.S. government says is the most violent city in the world.

In its Nov. 21 warning, the State Department said San Pedro Sula, an industrial center in northwestern Honduras, last year had 159 murders for every 100,000 residents.

An article last month by the Associated Press said Honduras was “considered the world’s most dangerous country, with 91 homicides per 100,000 people, according to the United Nations and the Organization of American States, 20 times the rate in the United States.”

Part of the blame for the increased violence is attributed to Honduras’ new importance to the drug trade. Mexico has cracked down on the drug cartels, forcing them to find new bases of operations. Colombian cartels also operate in the country, Reuters reported Saturday.

The Associated Press reported in June that 84% of cocaine on its way to the United States crosses through Central America. “Air and sea shipments of cocaine to Honduras have risen dramatically since 2006, when less than 10 percent of the U.S.- bound cocaine went through the country,” the article by Katherine Corcoran and Alberto Arce said. “By 2011 the portion had jumped to more than 30%. Honduras has been the main landing point for such drug flights from South America since 2009.”


The State Department warning notes that “U.S. citizens do not appear to be targeted based on their nationality,” adding that tourist destinations and resorts generally are safer.

But, the warning goes on to say, “A majority of serious crimes are never solved; of the 24 murders committed against U.S. citizens since January 2010, police have closed none.”

The State Department lists these areas as worthy of special cautions:

Atlantida (where La Ceiba is)
Copan (where the Mayan ruins are)
Cortes (where San Pedro Sula is)
Francisco Morazan (where Tegucigalpa, the capital, is)

It adds that “Certain areas of Olancho, particularly the municipalities of Catacamas, Juticalpa, San Francisco de la Paz, and Santa Maria de Real, also report a significantly high crime rate.

“The location and timing of criminal activity is unpredictable,” State says in its warning. “We recommend that all travelers exercise caution when traveling anywhere in Honduras.”

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