Honduran President Porfirio Lobo dismisses criticism that his country is a failed state
He says drug use in the United States is a key cause of violence in Honduras
"Honduras is not an island," he says, noting that Central American neighbors face similar problems
Lawmakers have approved several measures recently to crack down on violence
The president of Honduras Tuesday defended his government’s approach to handling crime in the violence-plagued Central American nation.
In an exclusive interview with CNN en Español, Honduran President Porfirio Lobo said drug use in the United States was a key cause of violence in his country and throughout Central America.
“We know what the causes are. We have there in the north a country that consumes drugs, and we are the transit countries. … None of these problems is exclusive to Honduras,” he said. “Here we are taking the same measures other countries are taking.”
Honduras has the world’s highest murder rate, with 82.1 murder per 100,000 inhabitants in 2010, according to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime.
In an effort to purge its national police force of corruption, the Honduran Congress voted last month to empower its military to carry out most police duties for at least 18 months. The vote gave the military a broad mandate over day-to-day crime fighting in the country, and gave the armed forces additional powers against organized crime.
Recently, lawmakers approved a measure banning motorcycles from carrying passengers in order to crack down on drive-by shootings. They also approved a law allowing wiretapping to help stop crime.
Lobo spoke to CNN several days after former President Manuel Zelaya told reporters that the country had become a “failed state” after the slaying last week of a former top government security adviser.
Lobo, who was elected president several months after a coup ousted Zelaya from power in 2009, dismissed the former president’s criticisms.
“Remember how I received Honduras … I inherited a country in the middle of a climate of extreme violence,” Lobo said, accusing his predecessor of allowing violence to grow and flourish.
Responding to questions about violence, Lobo repeatedly noted that other countries in Central America were suffering from similar problems.
“Honduras is not an island,” he said.
Lobo said his government was working on creating a new investigative authority to stop widespread impunity and bring criminals to justice.
“I have not hidden from anybody that I inherited a Honduras with a practically useless capacity for investigation … I have the faith in God that when I hand over the country to the next president in January 2014, Honduras will have a better security climate,” he said.
CNN en Español’s Gabriela Frias and Fernando del Rincon contributed to this report.