Friday, December 9, 2011

Honduras Bans Passengers on Motorcycles Following Motorcycle Murders

As a follow-up to my December 7 posting, "Honduran Journalist Murdered,"politicians this week voted to ban motorcycle passengers after two drive-by killings threw the spotlight back on Honduras' out of control murder rate and lack of public order.

Members of Parliament in a closed session on Wednesday vote to ban passengers on motorcycles, arguing that it would help tackle a growing wave of drug-related slayings in the Central American country.

On Tuesday, Luz Marina Paz Villalobos, a radio show host, was gunned down outside her home by tandem riders on two motorbikes. The following day, Alfredo Landaverde, a prominent security expert and anti-corruption activist, was killed as he drove through the Honduran capital with his wife. His wife was also seriously injured and is fighting for her life in a hospital in Tegucigalpa.

COMMENT: Honduras now suffers from the world's highest murder rate. In 2010, there were 82 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

In an interview with LA TRIBUNA, the mayor of Tegucigalpa, Ricardo Álvarez, suggested his country now needed outside support to battle the rise in violent crime. "We are reaching a point at which we either save Honduras or all Hondurans sink together. We must come together and row in the same direction in order to stop the terrible wave of violence that is plaguing the nation."

Unfortunately, the ban against passengers on two-wheeled motorized vehicles is unlikely to significantly reduce murders and assassinations in Honduras, considering that the majority of homicides are committed by gunmen firing from conventional vehicles.

Ironically, As Honduran politicians approved the ban on passengers on two-wheeled motorized vehicles, there was outrage in Brazil's business capital, Sào Paulo, over similar plans there designed to discourage tandem criminals on motorcycles. The bill, approved in November by members of Sào Paulo's state parliament, is unlikely to pass, as the state governor has promised to veto the bill on the basis that the majority of tandem riders on motorcycles are law-abiding citizens and simply use two-wheeled vehicles to avoid vehicular gridlock.

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