The Imitation Game

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Honduras imposed a “state of exception” this week in order to fight street gangs and rising crime, becoming the second Central American nation to do so, the Associated Press reported.

The extraordinary move will suspend some constitutional rights, such as free movement and freedom of association, and will loosen the rules governing police searches and arrests.

The measures will mainly target the capital, Tegucigalpa, and the northern business hub of San Pedro Sula, which have both struggled under the sway of powerful gangs like Barrio 18 and MS-13.

The state of exception will last a month, but lawmakers will be able to extend it if necessary. The government said the decision was essential because of the threat to life and property posed by the gangs in both cities.

Honduras’ decision follows similar moves by El Salvador, which imposed a state of exception in March and has been extending it continuously since then.

Former Honduran National Police Commissioner Leandro Osorio said the government’s decision aims to prevent crime and “penetrate these criminal structures to get to the (leaders).” He warned that the move would at times trample civil liberties.

Still, analysts noted that Honduras’ state of exception was “an imitation” of El Salvador’s, adding that it pales in comparison with the all-out effort by Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele, who has faced international criticism for his repressive tactics.

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