Honduras’ military say that homicides in San Pedro Sula have fallen sharply since the military was deployed to the world’s most violent city, but the imprecise statistics fail to provide a clear picture of the armed forces’ actual impact.
Four months into Operation Liberty, which has seen the armed forces conduct daily street patrols on the city streets, military official Rene Ponce of the 105th Infantry Brigade told La Prensa that while the city saw “between 15 and 20 homicides a day” before the operation, now there are days in which only “seven, three, or even no” homicides occur.
Police have also detained more than 1,200 people and seized at least 150 weapons over the course of the operation. The joint armed forces and police patrols mostly occur in the city’s most violent zones, the Rivera Hernandez and Chamelecon sectors. The armed forces will remain on the streets until January 2014.
InSight Crime Analysis
Despite Ponce’s claims, it is difficult to draw any concrete conclusions about whether or not the murder rate has fallen as a result of Operation Liberty, given how imprecise the available statistics are. Two months into the operation, another official from the 105th Brigade claimed that crime had dropped 60 percent, while the police department claimed crime had fallen 10 percent. Both sources failed to explain what kind of crimes they referred to and over what time period they were reporting.
Currently San Pedro Sula is the world’ most dangerous city, with a murder rate of 169 per 100,000 in 2012. This is nearly twice the country’s overall murder rate, an astronomical figure given that Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world. According to a January 2013 report by the Violence Observatory at the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH), 2012 was Honduras’ most violent year on record, with 7,172 murders and a homicide rate of 86.5 per 100,000.