San Pedro Sula - HondurasSan Pedro Sula (Spanish pronunciation: [sam ˈpeðɾo ˈsula]) is the capital of Cortés Department, Honduras. It is located in the northwest corner of the country in the Sula Valley, about 50 kilometres (31 mi) south of Puerto Cortés on the Caribbean Sea. With a census population of 719,063 in 2013, and 1,445,598 people living in its metropolitan area in 2010, it is the nation's primary industrial center and second largest city after the capital Tegucigalpa.
San Pedro Sula was the "murder capital of the world" until early 2016 when Caracas, Venezuela surpassed its homicide rate. Since the 2009 Honduran military coup "unemployment and underemployment rates have doubled while the number of people living in extreme poverty has skyrocketed." In 2013, the city had 187 homicides per 100,000 residents. This surpassed Ciudad Juarez, Mexico's rate of 148 killings per 100,000, or an average of about three homicides per day; Ciudad Juarez had previously topped the list for three consecutive years. Both cities are major operational and strategic distribution points in the illegal drug trade, particularly to the United States, and have significant gang activity. In response, authorities launched Operation Lightning, saturating violence hotspots with police and soldiers. Meanwhile, arms trafficking has flooded the country, with just under 70% of all firearms being illegal. 83% of homicides in the city involve firearms.
According to the Los Angeles Times, "the homicide rate is stoked by the rivalry of the brutal street gangs, mostly descendants of gangs formed in Los Angeles and deported to Central America in the 1990s, including Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the 18th Street gang. Their ranks are fed by the disastrous economy of Honduras, and emboldened more recently by alliances with Mexican drug traffickers moving cocaine through the country."
Crime and economic stress have led to the migration of large numbers of unaccompanied minors to the US border. The latest data from the CBP shows San Pedro Sula as the major source for Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) migrating from Honduras.
Barrio Guamalito is just to the west and north of the centre. Noroeste neighbourhoods include Colonia Moderna (from 1 Calle to 5 Calle NO, from Avendia Circunvalacion to the rio beyond 24 Avenida), Colonia La Mora (from 5 Calle NO to 7 Calle No, from Avendia Circunvalacion to the rio beyond 24 Avenida), Colonia Zeron, the Colonia Columbia by the Universidad de San Pedro Sula, Barrio La Cerveceria and Barrio Guadalupe. Across the Rio along which 24 Avenida runs is Colonia Juan Lindo and Colonia Jardines Del Valle.
From the river past 24 Avenida, north to 25 Calle and west to 12 Avenida, is Colonia Universidad. Universidad de San Pedro Sula is to its south, across the river. West of Colonia Universidad is Colonia Country, a small neighbourhood including the Academia Americana, and Colonia Villas del Sol, which runs from Boulevard Mackey west to include Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Honduras en el Valle de Sula, and goes north to Rio Bermejo but does not cross it.
Just past the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Honduras en el Valle de Sula, and spanning the Rio Bermejo, is Colonia El Pedregal, which has residential high-rises.
Further out, north across the Rio Bermejo, running to the edge of the city, and with Calles (streets) renumbering from 1 up, are Colonia Los Alpes and Rancho El Coco and Residencial Los Cedros and Colonia La Tara.
Far to the north is Colonia Fesitranh.
Cortés is one of the 18 departments into which Honduras is divided. The department covers a total surface area of 3,954 km² and, in 2015, had an estimated population of 1,612,762 people, making it the most populous department in Honduras. The Merendón Mountains rise in western Cortés, but the department is mostly a tropical lowland, the Sula Valley, crossed by the Ulúa and Chamelecon rivers.
It was created in 1893 from parts of the departments of Santa Bárbara and Yoro. The departmental capital is San Pedro Sula. Main cities also include Choloma, La Lima, Villanueva, and the sea ports of Puerto Cortés and Omoa. The Atlantic coast of the Department of Cortés is known for its many excellent beaches.
Cortés is the economic heartland of Honduras, as the Sula Valley is the country's main agricultural and industrial region. US banana companies arrived in the area in the late 19th Century, and established vast plantations, as well as infrastructure to ship the fruit to the United States. San Pedro Sula attracted substantial numbers of European, Central American, and Palestinian and Lebanese immigrants. Industry flourishes in the department, and Cortés today hosts most of the country's assembly plants, known as maquilas.
Honduras gained independence from Spain in 1821 and was a part of the First Mexican Empire until 1823, when it became part of the United Provinces of Central America. It has been an independent republic and has held regular elections since 1838. In the 1840s and 1850s Honduras participated in several failed attempts at Central American unity, such as the Confederation of Central America (1842–1845), the covenant of Guatemala (1842), the Diet of Sonsonate (1846), the Diet of Nacaome (1847) and National Representation in Central America (1849–1852). Although Honduras eventually adopted the name Republic of Honduras, the unionist ideal never waned, and Honduras was one of the Central American countries that pushed the hardest for a policy of regional unity.
Neoliberal policies favoring international trade and investment began in the 1870s, and soon foreign interests became involved, first in shipping from the north coast, especially tropical fruit and most notably bananas, and then in building railroads. In 1888, a projected railroad line from the Caribbean coast to the capital, Tegucigalpa, ran out of money when it reached San Pedro Sula. As a result, San Pedro grew into the nation's primary industrial center and second-largest city. Comayagua was the capital of Honduras until 1880, when the capital moved to Tegucigalpa.
Since independence, nearly 300 small internal rebellions and civil wars have occurred in the country, including some changes of régime.
Honduras is governed within a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic. The President of Honduras is both head of state and head of government. Executive power is exercised by the Honduran government. Legislative power is vested in the National Congress of Honduras. The judiciary is independent of both the executive branch and the legislature.
The National Congress of Honduras (Congreso Nacional) has 128 members (diputados), elected for a four-year term by proportional representation. Congressional seats are assigned the parties' candidates on a departmental basis in proportion to the number of votes each party receives.
Honduras and Nicaragua had tense relations throughout 2000 and early 2001 due to a boundary dispute off the Atlantic coast. Nicaragua imposed a 35% tariff against Honduran goods due to the dispute.
In June 2009 a coup d'état ousted President Manuel Zelaya; he was taken in a military aircraft to neighboring Costa Rica. The General Assembly of the United Nations voted to denounce the coup and called for the restoration of Zelaya. Several Latin American nations including Mexico temporarily severed diplomatic relations with Honduras. In July 2010, full diplomatic relations were once again re-established with Mexico. The United States sent out mixed messages after the coup; Obama called the ouster a coup and expressed support for Zelaya's return to power. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, advised by John Negroponte, the former Reagan-era to Ambassador Honduras implicated in the Iran-Contra affair, refrained from expressing support. She has since explained that the US would have had to cut aid if it called Zelaya's ouster a military coup, although the US has a record of ignoring these events when it chooses. Zelaya had expressed an interest in Hugo Chávez' Bolivarian Alliance for Peoples of our America (ALBA), and had actually joined in 2008. After the 2009 coup, Honduras withdrew its membership.
This interest in regional agreements may have increased the alarm of establishment politicians. When Zelaya began calling for a "fourth ballot box" to determine whether Hondurans wished to convoke a special constitutional congress, this sounded a lot to some like the constitutional amendments that had extended the terms of both Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales. "Chavez has served as a role model for like-minded leaders intent on cementing their power. These presidents are barely in office when they typically convene a constitutional convention to guarantee their reelection," said a 2009 Spiegel International analysis, which noted that one reason to join ALBA was discounted Venezuelan oil. In addition to Chavez and Morales, Carlos Menem of Argentina, Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil and Columbian President Álvaro Uribe had all taken this step, and Washington and the EU were both accusing the Sandanista government in Nicaragua of tampering with election results. Politicians of all stripes expressed opposition to Zelaya's referendum proposal, and the Attorney-General accused him of violating the constitution. The Honduran Supreme Court agreed, saying that the constitution had put the Supreme Electoral Tribunal in charge of elections and referenda, not the National Statistics Institute, which Zelaya had proposed to have run the count. Whether or not Zelaya's removal from power had constitutional elements, the Honduran constitution explicitly protects all Hondurans from forced expulsion for Honduras.