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Violence, poverty and politics: Why Hondurans are escaping to the U.S.

Darwin mourns the death of his brother Marco at his funeral. His brother, 28, was gay and was kidnapped, tortured and killed. (Photo: Francesca Volpi)

Violence, poverty and politics: Why Hondurans are escaping to the U.S.

The heartbreaking violence that’s become a daily occurrence in Honduras is regularly presented as a result of gangs and drugs — with victims chosen at random. But this problem cannot be understood without accounting for the current political climate. With farmers’ associations, indigenous activists and multinational companies at odds, victims are often targeted because of their occupations. These victims have included media professionals, human rights defenders, lawyers, peasant group workers and activists in the political opposition. The country’s already high rate of violent crime rose sharply after the 2009 coup d’état and has remained at record levels ever since. Commentators are certainly correct that violence is spurring many Hondurans to flee for other countries, mostly Mexico and the United States, but they often miss that it’s inextricably linked to a toxic political situation.

Photography and text by Francesca Volpi.

Reporting for this article was funded by an Adelante fellowship and a grant from the International Women’s Media Foundation.

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