Tegucigalpa, Honduras – The streets of one of Central America’s most dangerous cities are without police after about 1,800 law enforcement officers went on strike to demand a pay increase and better work conditions.
Uniformed officers in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa blocked several streets Tuesday with patrol cars near an open air market where they gathered to talk with journalists.
One striker said the 2,500 officers assigned to the capital make about $150 a month. He said that each officer must pay for his or her uniform and bullets and that they get only one day off for every 26 days worked.
The officer also said police stations lack equipment and even toilets. He insisted on not being quoted by name because he fears reprisal.
The striking officers refused to talk to preventive police director Alex Villanueva, who tried to negotiate an end to the walkout.
Honduras has seen an escalation in violent crime over the last few years, with the city of San Pedro de Sula topping the list of the world’s most dangerous cities, according to a Mexican research center.
Drug violence, gang activity and the targeted killing of women all contributed to San Pedro de Sula’s top ranking in the list compiled by the organization Seguridad, Justicia y Paz.
“San Pedro de Sula authorities have claimed that the placement of the city in the first place in the rankings hurts his image. They have also argued that our figures are wrong,” a statement from the organization noted. “But we rely on official figures regarding the effect on the ranking, which only recognize the reality. This is not damaging the image of the city — the violence and the inability of governments to contain it and reduce it is. Hiding it never resolves problems.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.