Archive for category Honduras

Military News: 200 US Marines Join Anti-drug Effort In Guatemala

Interesting news and this goes along with the continuing drug war strategy down south. Earlier I posted a deal about FOB’s being set up in Honduras. Central America is a choke point for drug traffickers, so it makes sense to focus on trying to block it. We will see how it goes? –Matt



200 US Marines join anti-drug effort in Guatemala
Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012
A team of 200 U.S. Marines began patrolling Guatemala’s western coast this week in an unprecedented operation to beat drug traffickers in the Central America region, a U.S. military spokesman said Wednesday.
The Marines are deployed as part of Operation Martillo, a broader effort started last Jan. 15 to stop drug trafficking along the Central American coast. Focused exclusively on drug dealers in airplanes or boats, the U.S.-led operation involves troops or law enforcement agents from Belize, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama and Spain.
“This is the first Marine deployment that directly supports countering transnational crime in this area, and it’s certainly the largest footprint we’ve had in that area in quite some time,” said Marine Staff Sgt. Earnest Barnes at the U.S. Southern Command in Miami.
It was 50 years ago when the U.S. military last sent any significant aid and equipment into Guatemala, establishing a base to support counter-insurgency efforts during a guerrilla uprising. That movement led to 36 years of war that left 200,000 dead, mostly indigent Maya farmers. The U.S. pulled out in 1978.
Guatemalan authorities say they signed a treaty allowing the U.S. military to conduct the operations on July 16. Less than a month later an Air Force C-5 transport plane flew into Guatemala City from North Carolina loaded with the Marines and four UH-1 “Huey” helicopters.

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Honduras: The US Drug War Ramps Up, And Honduras Is Still Looking For A Charter City Sponsor

Honduras is the latest focal point in America’s drug war. As Mexico puts the squeeze on narcotics barons using its territory as a transit hub, more than 90 percent of the cocaine from Colombia and Venezuela bound for the United States passes through Central America. More than a third of those narcotics make their way through Honduras, a country with vast ungoverned areas — and one of the highest per capita homicide rates in the world.

The drug war is definitely heating up in Honduras. The strategy seems pretty simple, and that as you can see with the quote up top, Honduras is a main smuggling route on land and the US plans on helping to stop that. Also, the amount of land to cover is smaller and you could consider Honduras a choke point that US and Honduran forces plan on blocking. Or at least trying to.

Below I have posted two stories in regards to the efforts in Honduras. The first is about DEA’s FAST teams working with the Hondurans on operations, and the second is a story about the US applying lessons learned in Iraq towards operating bases in Honduras.

What is cool is the whole ‘outpost’ concept that is being applied to the effort. To get folks closer to the smuggling routes, as opposed to making long trips back and forth.  You can also stay closer to the cities next to smuggling routes, and do more patrols that way as well. In comparison to Afghanistan–this is moving the guys off the FOBs and out into outposts so they are closer to their AO’s.

In past drug operations, helicopters ferrying Honduran and American antinarcotics squads took off from the capital, Tegucigalpa, whenever an intelligence task force identified radar tracks of a smuggler’s aircraft. The three-hour flights required to reach cartel rendezvous points did not leave much idle time to spot airplanes as they unloaded tons of cocaine to dugout canoes, which then paddled downriver beneath the jungle canopy to meet fast boats and submersibles at the coast for the trip north.
In creating the new outposts — patterned on the forward bases in Iraq and Afghanistan that gave troops a small, secure home on insurgent turf — spartan but comfortable barracks were built. Giant tanks hold 4,500 gallons of helicopter fuel. Solar panels augment generators. Each site supports two-week rotations for 55 people, all no more than 30 to 45 minutes’ flying time from most smuggling handoff points.

No word if any contractors are helping to set up these outposts or do work in the outposts, and I will be keeping my eye open for any jobs related to Honduras.

Another note about Honduras, which is equally interesting to me, is the concept of charter cities there. Paul Romer has been working with the government to establish a charter city called the RED.  The reason for this, is all based on the hope for elevating the prosperity of the country–something like what Hong Kong did for China.

They are currently looking for a country that would sponsor this charter city, and so far no one has taken a bite. But if someone were to sponsor it, then that city would provide work for the region. The hope would be to bring immigrants south, and they would work in the RED to make a life, instead of them running to places like the US and Canada illegally.

That kind of dynamic would not bode well for the drug cartels either, just because they depend upon immigrants delivering their drugs up into the US. Or at least taking advantage of the massive flow of people crossing the border every year–because it overwhelms law enforcement. A charter city like the RED would also require excellent law enforcement/security in order to keep drugs and crime out.

Now one idea for Honduras is to let the US know that if they want to operate in Honduras for the drug war, that they should help out with the Charter City concept. Either the US could become that sponsor, or the US could help apply some leverage to get a country to jump on board? I would think that if both Canada and the US is wanting to clamp down on illegal immigration, that providing an alternative like this charter city, would be an option to help alleviate that problem. Especially if Honduras is willing to do this, and businesses are drawn to the RED because it is such a good deal.

Interesting stuff, and lots of things going on in Honduras right now. –Matt



D.E.A.’s Agents Join Counternarcotics Efforts in Honduras
By Charlie Savage and Thom Shanker
May 16, 2012
A commando-style squad of Drug Enforcement Administration agents accompanied the Honduran counternarcotics police during two firefights with cocaine smugglers in the jungles of the Central American country this month, according to officials in both countries who were briefed on the matter. One of the fights, which occurred last week, left as many as four people dead and has set off a backlash against the American presence there.
It remains unclear whether the D.E.A. agents took part in the shooting during either episode, the first in the early hours of May 6 and the second early last Friday. In an initial account of the second episode, the Honduran government told local reporters that two drug traffickers had been killed and a large shipment of cocaine seized; he did not mention any American involvement. Several American officials said the D.E.A. agents did not return fire during the encounter.

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Cool Stuff: Hong Kong In Honduras

Last, but not least, comes security. Private security firms will have to protect the population in the new cities. Honduras is one of the world’s more corrupt countries, in 129th place out of 183 in a survey of outsiders’ perceptions by Transparency International, a Berlin-based lobby group. It also has the region’s highest murder rate. The local police have a poor reputation. Last month 176 police officers were arrested in a corruption crackdown.

This is the part that I thought was most relevant. Because without security, business will not come to this Charter City. If they cannot trust the police or have to worry about being extorted all of the time, then that won’t work as well. Not to mention the cartels and their interest in the city. So private security or a private police force will be essential to making this work.

Over at the Charter Cities blog, here is their statement on security for this deal. RED stands for la Región Especial de Desarrollo.

Q: Will the RED rely exclusively on private security?
A: Though the RED has the option to make use of private security, policing services will not come exclusively or even primarily from private entities. The RED government will establish an independent police force and can use several public channels to ensure fair and effective policing, including the option of enlisting a trusted foreign police authority to train officers and hold police leadership accountable.

 Interesting stuff and I will keep an eye out on how this turns out. Who knows, maybe the RED will be the go to place for work in Central America, and this could turn into the next Hong Kong? –Matt


Hong Kong in Honduras
An ambitious development project aims to pull a Central American country out of its economic misery. Can it work?
Dec 10th 2011
TRUJILLO is a sleepy backwater, but one with a lot of history. The beautiful bay surrounded by lagoons and mountains on the northern coast of Honduras was where Christopher Columbus set foot on the American continent during his fourth voyage in 1502. But in a few decades, it might be known for something entirely different: being the Hong Kong of the West. Scores of skyscrapers and millions of people could one day surround the natural harbour. The new city could dominate Honduras, today one of the poorest and most crime-ridden countries in Central America, becoming a magnet for most of the region’s migrants.

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Cool Stuff: TED–Paul Romer: The World’s First Charter City?

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