Faced with some of the highest crime rates in the world, local communities in Guatemala and Honduras are struggling to combat violence, corruption and drug trafficking.  Growing fear and distrust among neighbors has further compounded the problem.  With the help of Movimiento Pro Vecino (Pro-Neighbor Movement), a Mexican civil society organization, citizens are designing strategies to increase local safety and security.

Partnering with IRI, Movimiento Pro Vecino is leading workshops throughout Guatemala and Honduras that empower citizens and community leaders to identify priority security concerns and organize the community to collaboratively address these challenges.

In Guatemala, workshops have taken place in La Esperanza and Santa Rita Salcajá.  As featured in the major daily newspaper El Quetzalteco, the communities are working to prevent crime through a strategy that promotes unity by bringing together representatives of local municipal security commissions, which are comprised of civil society leaders and municipal officials.  Workshop participants, led by Laura Elena Herrejón of Movimiento Pro Vecino, developed ways to promote citizen engagement with local authorities so that citizens can take a more active role in local decision making and help develop strategies that combat crime and violence in their neighborhoods.  This engagement model supports communities to engage around other priority issues, such as employment generation.  

Through the workshops, participants gained a sense of empowerment.  This was underscored by Orquidia Say, a community leader from Salcajá, when she said, “We learned how to communicate with our local government and express our needs.  Now, we have better support from the National Civil Police and they installed more streetlamps.  Now, we feel like we are not afraid to communicate with the mayor and his officials.  Now, we feel like he has become our ally.”  

At a workshop in Puerto Cortés, Honduras, representatives from 14 community interest groups (known as patronatos) and from the municipality’s Violence Prevention Commission focused on how teambuilding and effective community outreach techniques could bring more citizens into the decision-making process.  Arnold Moesses, a community leader who attended the Puerto Cortés workshop commented, “I learned the importance of supporting each other as neighbors when it comes to the prevention of violence.  We had become afraid of each other, which prevented us from communicating and sharing our thoughts and opinions about the things that happen in our neighborhood.”

To date, citizens and representatives in Honduras from Barrio Pueblo Nuevo, Buenos Aires, El Calan, El Copén, El Mango, Kele-Kele, La Pita, La Roca, Las Cruces, Puente Alto, Puerto Cortés, San Isidro, San Martin, San Roque and Santa Clara el Chile have participated in the workshops.

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