Maras and violence in Honduras, new ReporT-shirts
A country where you can be murdered for the sake of a peso. That is Honduras. When you put it like that, it is chilling… and heart-rending. But it is no exaggeration. According to official figures released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, an average of 19 people are murdered every day. “Two days in Honduras and already I’ve seen six murders. What with drug traffickers, gangs, poverty and corrupt elites, this country is bleeding to death” Jon Sistiaga types into his Twitter account.
Most of these deaths have to do with wars between Maras. What are the Maras? Organised gangs which have become the enforcers of the major drug lords over recent years. Honduras is the warehouse for drugs heading for the United States. The Maras are in charge of looking after, moving and distributing it.
For some time now, the Maras have not charged money for these services, but in exchange get drugs, drugs which have to be sold on the local market in their own country. They have become the big narcotraffickers’ hitmen. As a result, a ruthless, bloodthirsty war has got under way between rival gangs to secure street corners for their small-scale pushers, areas in which they can control all forms of drug dealing or larger stretches of land which allow them to map routes to transport drugs.
Once again, the reporter Jon Sistiaga has entered deep into one of the pricklier parts of the world to give voice to the victims and hear what the assassins themselves have to say at first hand. This time he needed no interpreters, but he did need to take measures to guarantee his own safety. “It isn’t easy to reach the Maras because most of them are in prison. As they say, you don’t leave the Maras; you either die or go to jail. Even so, if you are determined, have good contacts and know how to get to them, interviews can be arranged”, Sistiaga explains.
“Smile, you’re being watched”, the policemen escorting Jon Sistiaga and Hernán Zin, the cameraman he shoots his reports with, told them. They were going to meet the boss of the local Mara Salvatrucha 13 clique. What was going on? The reporter tells us: “This guy made me go out into the middle of the street and was watching me from 200 metres away. I never saw him, but he was giving me instructions by telephone: get out into the street, walk around a bit, look up, turn round… He wanted to see me in person before speaking to me and I had to show respect and prove I wasn’t afraid”.
It was no easy task, but the report was made. Once again, Sistiaga has given the victims, and their executioners, a voice. It is hard to take when you hear a member of the Mara Salvatrucha tell you with utter indifference that he has committed 10 murders and knows he will die young.
As on previous occasions, Kukuxumusu has summed up the report with a drawing: Honduras’ most emblematic animal, the jaguar, gun in hand and bleeding. The tattoos on the jaguar are a reference to the Maras, their tattoos and all their victims. A metaphor for what is happening over there. And we have called it “Maras compañías”. You can buy this ReporT-shirt and many others from our online store.
The report “Honduras: la mara vida“ (Honduras: the mara vida) is to be shown for the first time on Canal+ 1 (Dial 1) on December 10 (http://www.canalplus.es/jon-sistiaga). It will be previewed at Cineteca Madrid at 8.30 pm on December 8 and 9, with Jon Sistiaga in attendance.