I ran the McDonald’s 3ra Carrera Familiar in Guatemala last Sunday. A keen, albeit slow, runner, I signed up for the 10 km race largely because it was happening on the bit of road I usually run along on a Sunday morning and thought why not? I was not alone – there were around 5 000 other people doing the same: keen runners, families of young and old, some in pushchairs, some on scooters, some in wheelchairs. It was great to be part of it. Meanwhile in Honduras, as part of Activate Honduras, thousands of people were taking part in events in San Pedro Sula – running, cycling and walking.
Both events brought home to me the enthusiasm from people in Guatemala and Honduras to get out and reclaim their streets for walking, running and cycling. Both countries have problems with security where going out for a walk or a run can be very dangerous – just being in the wrong place at the wrong time can literally be life-threatening. To January this year more than 300 people have been killed on the streets of Honduras. 80% of the murders of the last few years have not been investigated. What does that mean? It means that impunity is rampant.
The UK has long been a champion of the fight against corruption and impunity. We were one of the first countries to bring in an Anti-Bribery Act which means a British company involved in bribery anywhere in the world can be prosecuted in the British courts. Often the fight against corruption is cast in terms of the extra financial costs to businesses and governments. Whilst these can be considerable and none of us wants to see scarce government funds being wasted, not least because it means the government does not have money for the projects it really needs to deliver, corruption also means crimes not being investigated, disappearances not being explained, murders being left unsolved. So the fight against corruption and impunity is not just about money, it’s about lives.
For that reason the official launch this week in Honduras of MACCIH is something I and the UK welcome. It shows a commitment to change how things are done, to tackle some very deep-rooted problems and to improve the judicial system in Honduras so that people have confidence in it. That’s the real test of whether a judicial system works or not. It will not be easy and it will not be quick, but the key thing is that change should be sustainable.
On Saturday 27 February as part of our British Weekend Honduras we shall be announcing a project which we have been working on with the Asociacion para una Sociedad mas Justa and the Ministerio Publico which also aims to tackle corruption and make it easier for citizens to denounce it. We believe it could make an important difference.
And the weekend will also include lots of sport – a live premier league match on Saturday at 9am and a rugby tournament in Roatan on 28 February, proud as we are that the coach of the Honduran national rugby team is a Brit – Matthew Harper.
So British Weekend Honduras has all the right ingredients to appeal to Hondurans – sport and the fight against impunity, two things which matter greatly to the UK too. Come and see for yourself www.facebook.com/ukinhonduras.