Tegucigalpa came to a halt on Tuesday morning as 1,800 officers of the policia preventiva (preventive police) striking for better wages and working conditions blocked the main streets with their police cruisers. The officers have announced that their strike will continue until their demands are met.
Officers complained of “living like animals” at police stations across the capital that lack proper equipment and “proper facilities to work or rest,” including sanitary facilities. Fearing reprisal, the officers remained anonymous in issuing their complaints.
The preventive police only earn about $150 a month and have not been granted the pay raise that should have gone into effect last January. They are expected to purchase their own uniforms and ammunition and only receive one weekend off per month. Alex Villanueva, director of the preventive police, warned that officers who continued to strike would be punished and chastised them for inciting “indiscipline and delinquency.”
Crime rates have increased dramatically in Honduras since the 2009 coup that forced then-President Manuel Zelaya into exile in Costa Rica. The Central American country claims the highest murder rate in the world according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime—averaging 20 homicides per day—increasing the risks for police officers.