Mejia, Thelma. “In Tegucigalpa, The Iron Fist Fails.” NACLA Report On The Americas 40, no. 4: 26 (2007)

This image shows armed police and military personnel arresting a protester. Originally this image appeared in the article “Workers Rights Violations At the Star Factory Honduras” published on November 29th, 2007. It illustrates the blurred distinction between the police and military force since the anti-gang law was adopted in 2002.

 Thelma Mejia’s Article In Tegucigalpa, The Iron Fist Fails, details the failure of the Honduran government to decrease the number of violent crimes since the implementation of the anti-gang law in 2002. According to the law’s pioneer Ricardo Maduro, its goal was to improve the human rights issue of citizen safety in the country by arresting gang members. The initial efficacy of this law was sensationalized to the point in which the majority of the Honduran population supported it blindly and failed to see its shortcomings. Since the anti-gang law was put into effect, the line between the military and the police has also begun to blur. As a result, the reports of police corruption have risen dramatically and have been used as a reason to fuel gang-affiliated crimes. Mejia also states that the success of the anti-gang law it constantly threatened by U.S. deportation laws. These laws typically deport immigrants involved in the L.A. Gang scene, which consequentially introduce their affiliations to countries like Honduras. The author proceeds to conclude her argument with the plausibility of reform, but states that its success is compromised by the people who lead the movement.

Thelma Mejia is a Honduran journalist with a Master’s Degree from Universidad Nacional Autonoma, Honduras on political and social theory. She has worked as an advisor for the United Nations Development Program, World Bank, as well as other organizations. Consequentially, it can be deduced from her accomplishments that her authority on the anti-gang law’s efficiency can be trusted. Her report offers insight from multiple perspectives in this human rights case; gang members, police force, and the government. These different points of view allow the reader to gauge who has benefitted more from this human rights case and who could be at fault. However, I feel that her intended audience wouldn’t be the people who would get the most out of this article. Hondurans don’t typically read peer-reviewed articles from sources like NACLA. If this were to be published in a document that was readily accessible to Honduran citizens, I feel like it would be more effective in the sense that it would raise more awareness domestically.

   This article has benefitted my research, because it has introduced me to the topic of citizen safety. My idea of human rights often limits itself to more popular issues like “child migration” and “governmental terrorism”, but this topic has expanded my intellectual horizons. This is an occasion where the government made a move to improve a domestic issue, but only managed to exacerbate its problems to an unprecedented low. It is a topic of cause and effect that didn’t pan out in a progressive fashion and serves as a “what if” scenario to discuss.

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