miércoles, 29 de mayo de 2013

Honduran gangs offer to stop violence, lead ordinary lives

Leaders of the two main criminal gangs in Honduras - Mara Salvatrucha or MS13 and the Barrio 18 or M18 - publicly apologised on 28 May for any harm their groups had done to Honduran society and asked the state to help them move on from a life of crime, in a step echoing the gangs' ceasefire in El Salvador that has reduced violent crime there since March 2012. Honduras is currently one of the most violent countries in the world and authorities recently admitted its police and judiciary could barely cope with criminality. Gang spokesmen stated their resolve on 28 May to end this violence, at a press conference organised in prison in the northern city of San Pedro Sula, attended also by the two chief mediators, the Auxiliary Bishop of San Pedro Sula, Rómulo Emiliani, and the Secretary of Multidimentional Security at the Organization of American States (OAS) Adam Blackwell. According to the Honduran website Proceso Digital the ceasefire consisted for now in a total end to criminal violence across the country but not to extortions, which remained as elsewhere in Central America the chief source of money for such gangs. The Maras also pledged they would suspend recruitments, La Prensa reported. Reasons given by spokesmen for the apparent contrition or change of heart included the state's retaliatory violence against gang members and their relatives, the Maras' social ostracism and deplorable reputation and a desire to offer their children a better life. Honduran President Porfirio Lobo was cited as saying the state would give all necessary support to the ceasefire and the "efforts" being made by mediators. He said he spoke by telephone on 27 May to the Auxiliary Bishop who warned him the ceasefire would not be easy to maintain; but Mr Lobo stated his belief that the ceasefire was "for the best," even if the state did not envisage abandoning its capacity to fight crime with force, Europa Press reported on 29 May, citing the President's comments to the press in Tegucicalpa.