Monday, October 10, 2011

One Minister to Rule Them

Porfirio Lobo Sosa came back from his trip to the United States and ordered that a new law be written to abolish both the Ministry of Security, which oversees the civilian police, and the Defense Ministry, which oversees the military.

Instead he wants a single civilian ministry to coordinate both functions, with three vice ministries, one each overseeing the police, the military, and the new investigative police that he hopes to create at the same time.

The UN Human Rights Relator, Frank Larue, said of this idea:
"absurd, it should not happen in any country on earth."

But Lobo Sosa will go ahead with it because, as he explained, he finds it difficult to coordinate the two services.

Maybe that's because he has the military doing something it should not be doing, policing the civilian population.

Lobo Sosa tried to argue that the move would also save the government money, but since he proposes to increase the budgets of both, and form a new police investigative unit, there's no real savings here. The bureaucracy actually gets bigger, not smaller.


David Wrathall said...

Is it possible that this is an attempt to pattern (albeit sloppily) the fortunes of Honduras after Costa Rica cerca 1949? Or is that too Pollyanna of me to even suggest?

(Thanks for the blog! I have been working on contextualizing my work on disaster risk within the broader political atmosphere (i.e. Bajo Aguan), and I have found your blog to be a HUGE resource. I've officially been converted. Again thanks a million!)

RAJ said...

Thanks for the kind words.

The rhetoric surrounding proposals to combine the oversight of police and armed forces is not reminiscent of the Costa Rican situation, certainly, there is no reason to think the Honduran government has any interest in eliminating the military.

Instead, the rhetoric either emphasizes supposed cost savings or making it easier to conduct joint operations.

In this sense, it is more like the erosion of boundaries between domestic policing and intelligence gathering that has been noted in the post-911 US.

In terms of Honduran history, the separation of civilian policing from the Armed Forces was a hard-won victory, as Mark Rosenburg and Mark Ruhl showed in an article published in 1996, which I recommend to everyone interested in the history of civilian and military security in modern Honduran history.

David Wrathall said...

Whereas in the past "military accountability in Honduras... has been a matter for the military itself," I suppose the formation of a secret police should be the clue that the process will become become more inscrutable. Good article.