Skip to main content

U.S. Peace Corps pulls out of Honduras

From Elvin Sandoval, For CNN
updated 6:18 AM EST, Wed January 18, 2012
The U.S. Peace Corps has pulled out of Honduras while it reviews security. According to the U.N. Honduras has the world's highest homicide rate.
The U.S. Peace Corps has pulled out of Honduras while it reviews security. According to the U.N. Honduras has the world's highest homicide rate.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 158 volunteers have departed Honduras and are on administrative leave
  • The Peace Corps announced the move last month, citing security concerns
  • Officials are also evaluating programs in Guatemala and El Salvador
  • The region is a key route for drug trafficking and has been plagued by violence

Tegucigalpa, Honduras (CNN) -- The U.S. Peace Corps has pulled more than 150 volunteers out of Honduras while the organization reviews security in the Central American country, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The 158 volunteers attended a conference over the weekend and have safely left Honduras, spokeswoman Kristina Edmunson said in a statement. They have been placed on administrative leave while the Peace Corps evaluates the program, she said.

Honduras has the world's highest homicide rate, according to a 2011 United Nations report, which said there were 81.2 homicides for ever 100,000 residents in the Central American nation.

"It is unfortunate that in the country right now -- given the situation of insecurity, violence and crime that every day increases -- international organizations are pulling back their aid and personnel," said Migdonia Ayestas of the Violence Observatory at the the National Autonomous University of Honduras.

Honduran officials have said they regret the Peace Corps' decision to pull out volunteers, which officials announced late last month.

Before the volunteers left, President Porfirio Lobo told reporters that his government would keep working to fight the high crime rate in Honduras.

There are 5,000 volunteers from around the world working in Honduras, according to government statistics.

Akihiko Yamada, director of the Japan International Cooperation Agency in Honduras, said his organization was still sending volunteers but urging them to be cautious.

"They can't go to some areas," he said.

The Peace Corps also announced last month that it had canceled its January training classes for new volunteers in El Salvador and Guatemala.

"Peace Corps will continue to closely monitor and assess the safety and security climate and enhance support in these countries before making any further decisions," Edmunson said Tuesday.

Much like its neighbor to the north, Mexico, Central America is struggling to get a grip on violent crime. Drug cartels use the region as a strategic way station between South America, where most of the world's coca is grown, and North America, a major cocaine market.

Coca is the raw ingredient for cocaine.

The Peace Corps has operated since 1963 in Honduras and Guatemala, sending more than 5,500 and 4,800 Americans to serve in each country, respectively. It operated in El Salvador between 1962 and 1979, and returned in 1993.

CNN's Mariano Castillo contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT