by Colin Hyde
The justice system stopped working in El Salvador and Honduras a long time ago. For decades those two countries ranked among the most murderous nations on the planet, until new leaders came to the fore, leaders who realized that you can’t move a country forward, that you can’t better the lives of the masses, in a state under siege.
The goal of right wing leaders is to maintain the status quo, keep the rich and the middle class happy. The leaders in El Salvador and Honduras are left wing. Their primary goal is to serve the masses. What the leadership in those countries have done — round up suspects and jail them — is called draconian. No democratic country wants to go there.
A February 24 Reuters story by Nelson Renteria and Kylie Madry, with assistance from Leslie Adler, said that El Salvador had begun transferring thousands of accused gang members to a new mega prison that can hold up to 40,000 prisoners. In March last year the Bukele government introduced something like a state of emergency after gangs in El Salvador went on a murder spree, and since then the authorities have rounded up more than 64,000 suspects. Under their SOE, “arrests can be made without a warrant, private communications are accessible by the government, and detainees no longer have the right to a lawyer.”
A February 21 Reuters story by Gustavo Palencia said that in Honduras they had extended their SOE a second time, after putting it in place in early December last year. Honduran security forces can detain anyone they believe is “associated with or have committed crimes”; their SOE “allows authorities to restrict freedom of movement and assembly, as well as to search homes and make arrests without a warrant.” The police chief in Honduras reported 356 fewer homicides between Dec. 6, 2022 and Feb 20, 2023, compared to the period Dec. 6, 2021 to Feb. 20, 2022.
El Salvador and Honduras have been condemned by the “civilized” world. But if the peace in the condemning nations were to rupture the way it has in El Salvador and Honduras, we can bet they wouldn’t just go to church and pray over it. Intellectuals are such “civilized” people, when it comes to the lives of people other than themselves. Look how quickly they put in trial by judge when their fraternity was sadly affected.
You are dreaming if you believe that we can get away with ignoring murder. We turn ourselves into murderers when we don’t stop the crime. If we did the research, we would find out how many murders are committed when we fail to solve a single murder. Go back 20, 30 years ago. Ask our people who have been directly affected. One member of the family was a victim of murder, or one member of the family was the beneficiary of a weak justice system. Rarely did it end there. Men can turn metals found inside the earth into bicycles, and take rubber from trees and make tires for the bike to roll on the road. But human nature is a beast. It can be tamed, but only in certain circumstances, and only for so long.
Local lawyers and their friends who are happy with the status quo here, I don’t charge that there is anything inherently evil in them. Neither do I see anything inherently evil in criminals. It’s the shit’n system.
Maybe operating in the belly of the beast makes some people blind to the terrible fault in it. I have given Mr. Sedi Elrington his points for having seen that something was very wrong. He said he couldn’t lose a murder trial, and he has offered up his ideas about a cure. Janus’s A New Jurisprudence calls for the prosecution and the defense to work together in the interest of truth and justice.
It’s a feeble argument by the status quo that presently there is some sharing of information between the two. The fact is that prosecutors fight to make their name, and lawyers can get dirty to get their clients off. So, the glove didn’t fit OJ Simpson! Lawyers can deny that charge. But too many people who have been honest with me throughout the time I’ve known them, have told me disappointing stories about some lawyers.
I see some good points in A New Jurisprudence, and I wonder why it has not yet been publicly explored. I too have thrown in my dos centavos to prevent us sinking to where El Salvador and Honduras have sunk to. Wait, we have sunk there at times, when we have been overwhelmed by violence.
I don’t think we should run free on a “lack of evidence”, or a not guilty on a technicality. I think we belong in a place of limbo; I think the state needs to do more investigation of the case, under A New Jurisprudence. We have not been found guilty, but we will be confined. While confined, while a battery of lawyers and special investigators hired by the government and people continue working on our case, we will be confined in a place with wall-to-wall red carpet.
Individuals who are in “limbo” should be held at a facility where they have individual rooms with all facilities, including cable television and internet; they must be allowed “conjugal” visits from wives, girlfriends, or prostitutes; and they must have a library, and fields to play on and fields to work in to produce the best quality foods. Only after every stone has been turned should they be released, to society, or to the maximum security prison.
Fascinating Native American grandmother
Some years ago I read this story about an Indian grandmother who cut off a piece of her breast to bait a hook to catch a fish to feed her grandson. On her aged legs she couldn’t move very far. Her breasts were dry; the boy only had her to fend for him, and the old must take care of the young. She sat on a stool in front of a hole in the ice with her fishing line, the hook baited with a piece of her breast.
The old were young once. In childhood and in youth they were protected. Elders made sacrifices so that who are elders now could have survived. That’s the way of the world. The duty of the old is to the young. I’ll just say this about the human rights of the young. Simply, they have rights in respect to their basic needs, and protection from predators. In return they must respect their elders, and willingly do chores, or else.
I bet an enslaved grandmother would have done the same for her grandson. It is for sure that many did, and the evidence we have of that is that we are here. But I wonder what thoughts would have run through her head as she cut off a piece of her breast to make bait? The heart of the Native American grandmother would have been flooded with warmth. Would the African grandmother have also wondered about what kind of future she was nurturing her grandson for?
The life of the enslaved man in the experience of our ancestors who were stolen from Africa and brought to the Americas was of abuse and shame. The white man would come and seize his wife if he wanted her. One day the grandson could be taken away and sold like cattle in the marketplace. Stories abound of our African ancestors committing suicide rather than submitting to a life in chains, and there are stories of prospective mothers aborting their children.
The horrors of the Middle Passage, and the centuries of enslavement, it is important to reflect on what our ancestors endured. But not so much that it bogs us down in the now.