Drug war: Hondurans rage against US commandos


A Honduran policeman stands guard as about 400 kilograms of cocaine are aflame in Tegucigalpa on May 11. The drugs were seized as part of a joint operation with US Special Forces.


Orlando Sierra

Hardly a week after a US Army antidrug squad in Honduras made the front-page of The New York Times, America’s Special Forces appear to have sunken into trouble in the jungle. Allegations of a botched raid — inluding reports of innocent casualties — have riled up the locals and sparked an outcry for the "gringos" to go home.

Problems continue to pile up from that May 11 operation, which US and Honduras authorities claim was a successful drug bust.

Last week, the Times reported, “anger” was rising among Hondurans after the US-backed operation went awry — four innocents were allegedly killed, including two pregnant women, the local mayor reportedly said. Villagers rioted, burning down a government house and demanding that US forces get out immediately.

The version offered by US and Honduras officials was quite different: They said security forces killed two drug traffickers and seized 1,000 pounds — and the US insisted that no American had fired a gun.

Now, Honduran villagers have told The Associated Press that security forces also stormed into homes and mistreated residents. The masked commandos included English-speaking “gringos,” villagers told AP.

Human Rights Watch issued this statement pressing Honduras and the US to investigate the May 11 operation.

Yet, even as tensions boiled, Honduran President Porfirio Lobo came out requesting more help from the US in the drug war, Latin America security website InSight Crime reported.

Rewind to that original Times report. On first read, the headline "Lessons of Iraq Help U.S. Fight a Drug War in Honduras" seemed a stretch to some. In retrospect, that title is more telling than ever.

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