Honduras To Send Gang Leaders To Island Prison

Taking a page from its neighbor El Salvador’s ruthless attitude to murder, robbery, rape, and extortion, Honduras intends to construct the only island jail colony in the Western Hemisphere and transfer its most dangerous gangsters there. 

As part of a more extensive crackdown after the gang-related killing of 46 women in one jail, President Xiomara Castro proposes constructing an isolated prison for 2,000 gang leaders on the Islas del Cisne island 155 miles off the coast. Brazilian, Chilean, Colombian, Costa Rican, Mexican, Panamanian, and Peruvian prisons were formerly located on islands. 

Before Mexico’s final island jail was shut down in 2019, movies and books depicting deadly uprisings, horrible conditions, and daring prison escapes were a popular genre. Authorities in Honduras are placing their bets on a return to the country’s historical norms to reduce the country’s current rate of violence.

Officials anticipate that cutting off all except satellite communication to the Islas del Cisne will deprive gang bosses of their ability to operate their activities within the jails. Getting to the island by boat from the mainland would take nearly a day, making escape impossible. The assumption is that cutting them off from society entirely will make them feel the total weight of the consequences of their actions.

Castro’s social media is littered with pictures of confiscated firearms and guys with gang tattoos sitting cross-legged and nude on the ground while surrounded by highly armed police. Similar scenes may be seen in neighboring El Salvador, where President Nayib Bukele has thrown hundreds of people into a “mega-prison.” Although human rights organization Cristosal believes that just 30% of convicts have apparent connections with gangs, claims of human rights abuses and democratic decay persist because of Bukele’s statements that detainees will never see the light of day again.

To limit further harm to their public image, the Honduran government has adopted El Salvador’s reactionary and short-sighted security posture. Although most Hondurans support the planned measures, regional scientists are concerned that doing so may compromise the island’s highly biodiverse ecosystems when the effects of climate change are already destroying the Caribbean.