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Law and holy orders

9 June 2011

Is it any wonder that journalism is even more dangerous a profession in Honduras than it is in Mexico?

Speaking on the subject of the historically sacrificial role of the Honduran police force, [Honduran vice minister of Security Armando] Calidonio has stated that the police “are now training in order to efficiently respond both to enemies of democracy that go around with AK 47s and enemies of democracy that go around with pens trying to discredit the police, who [themselves] put their lives in the line of fire every day so that the honest citizenry can enjoy peace and tranquility”.

Belén Fernández, “How to avoid extrajudicial execution in Honduras:  throw popcorn”

At least, officially, it’s the gangsters who are said to have killed journalists in this country (those who haven’t been met untimely ends after covering environmental crimes, or report for dissident indigenous radio stations), but more than a few journalists have either fled the country, or been “detained” illegally to suggest a rather less than respectful attitude towards the fourth estate when it comes to the forces of law and order.

Felipe Calderon recently called for making police work a “civic priesthood,” suggesting that — somehow — it becomes a respectable profession (unless of course, he’s thinking of priests like the late Marciel Maciel, whose personal corruption was on a plane far above that of even the greediest of Mexican coppers), one that requires training and discipline.  Which the U.S. government is supposedly assisting with.  Or, rather, thinks it’s contracting for:

Private companies have played a major role in the U.S. government’s efforts to train Latin American law enforcement agencies and increase intelligence-collection efforts against drug cartels.

In total, the U.S. government paid contractors more than $3 billion for work in the war on drugs in Latin America between 2005 and 2009. Counternarcotics contract spending increased 32% over the five-year period, from $482 million in 2005 to $635 million in 2009.

The single largest category of contracts awarded by the Department of Defense during this period was for “intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance” in Latin America, according to the report.

Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance… directed against those “enemies of democracy” with AK-47s, or those wielding pens and television cameras?

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