Canada made the news in Honduras again this week, in a confusing kind of way, after a visit by junior foreign affairs minister Diane Ablonczy.
The Honduras Weekly, an English-language online newspaper, had a headline that said “Canada Will Help Honduras Reform Security System.”
That would be a big commitment. Honduras Weekly said Ablonczy had agreed to name a Canadian expert to to a five-person Commission for Public Security Reform. The commission’s focus would be on cleaning up corruption in the police and justice system, and is expected to result in a major re-org and purge in the police forces. Its work will be controversial and difficult.
And potentially important. Corruption, gangs and the drug transport business have made life woefully insecure for Hondurans, which has the highest murder rate in the world, and are a major barrier to economic and social progress of any kind.
But La Prensa said Ablonczy, while offering generalities about helping improve security in the region, had refused to confirm Canada would name an expert to the commission.
And the Foreign Affairs Department new release on the visit offered no help, only one of those made-up quotes so beloved of the people who work for government communications shops. “Canada reiterates its support for the Honduran reconciliation efforts and reaffirms its commitment to assist the Government of Honduras in meeting serious security challenges,” Ablonczy allegedly said.
The confusion is unfortunate. The Honduran government has named three members - a former university head, a sociologist and a former interior minister. The government hopes Canada and Chile will add members to take an independent view. And delays would undermine the commission’s credibility, already viewed skeptically by Hondurans.
It was also interesting that the visit, and the issues, got no coverage in Canada, as far as I can tell.
That’s not a criticism. When I edited newspapers, I wasn’t likely to use scarce space for a report on Honduran security. Online news means space isn’t an issue, but reporting time still is. But it does indicate how little the world matters to Canadians, unless there is an earthquake or war or big sports event.
Footnote: Ablonczyy confirmed Canada will provide $130,000 this year to assist women victims of violence, the second highest cause of death for women between 14 and 40 here after AIDS. Canada will also provide $200,000 to help implement the recommendations of the Honduran Truth and Reconciliation Commission report into the 2009 coup that removed then-president Manuel Zelaya from power.