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Honduras: a state on the brink of failure

Honduras continues to be the weakest state in Central America. The government of Porfirio Lobo has been unable to pay public sector salaries since November 2012 and is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. The National Assembly and the Supreme Court are at loggerheads over the appointment of Supreme Court judges. Before Christmas, President Lobo claimed that he, too, faces the threat of being ousted like his predecessor Manuel Zelaya, who was removed from office in June 2009. Meanwhile, Honduras continues to have the highest murder rate in the Americas, the number of female victims of violent crime continues to increase, and the prison system remains in a ‘state of emergency’.
An international NGO representative provides a look ahead at the problems facing Honduras in 2013 (Read more). In a specially commissioned article, British journalist Matt Kennard talks to the US ambassador in Honduras and others about what needs to be done to help solve the problem of violence (Read more).
LAB editor Francis McDonagh interviews Reyna Isabel Quintanilla, of the Honduran women’s organisation CODEMUH. She describes the government’s attempt to make permanent changes to the labour code, which would have a disastrous impact on workers, particularly women in the maquila industry (Read more). 
The background to the widespread violence against women is provided in a report by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (Read more), and is described graphically in an article (in Spanish) by  Honduran women’s organization, Las Chonas, which believes that the women’s movement has received a tremendous setback over the last three years (Read more). LAB had previously interviewed Gladys Lanza of Las Chonas in February 2012 (Read more).
It is now a year since the disastrous fire in Comayagua prison claimed the lives of at least 350 inmates. In January 2013 the Honduran authorities extended the ‘state of emergency’ in the prison system, suggesting that little has changed over the past year. LAB editor Nick Caistor reports on the ‘time bomb’ represented by the Honduran penal system (Read more).
Other news
Guatemala: Amnesty International reports on what it terms ‘the war on women’ (Read more).
Venezuela: the continuing absence of President Hugo Chávez is forcing many of his supporters to think the unthinkable: what is chavismo without him? In an interview, five grassroots activists consider how they can reorganise (Read more). A journalist from the Spanish news agency EFE poses tough questions to the man currently replacing Chávez, Vice-President Nicolás Maduro, about the difficult choices facing the country (Read more). 
Keep an eye on the LAB Editors’ Blog: LAB editor Francis McDonagh, currently travelling in South America, ponders on the changes in Brazil, a country he knows well. In two posts, he describes changes in Recife (Read more) and looks at how Brazil is dealing with the scores of deaths of young people in the Santa Maria night club fire (Read more). Is Brazil, he asks, a different sort of country or just part of a global system increasingly dominated by profit? In a similar vein, Sue Branford asks if Brazil is finally waking up to the severity of climate change (Read more). Mike Gatehouse looks at recent judicial developments in Chile, where justice is finally close on the heels of those who murdered folk-singer Victor Jara after the military coup in 1973 (Read more).

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