President of Honduras Announces Plan to Build 20K Capacity Megaprison 

Xiomara Castro, the president of Honduras, has announced new plans to create a “megaprison” that would have capacity for 20,000 prisoners. 

All of this is part of the Honduras government’s crackdown on gang violence as well as efforts they’re undertaking to overhaul its prison system, which has long been very troubled.

Over the weekend, Castro gave an address on national TV, unveiling a series of emergency measures. Those include plans that would strengthen the role of the country’s military in combating organized crime, prosecuting drug traffickers the same as terrorists, and constructing additional facilities to ease overcrowding at prisons, as many crimes are mounting in the country that’s home to 10 million people.

Castro, who is a left-wing president, announced plans for the “megaprison” that rival those of his neighbor, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele. El Salvador recently built Latin America’s largest prison — a facility that can house up to 40,000 people. 

It’s necessary as Bukele has spearheaded a mass arrest campaign that has resulted in the number of detainees surging.

As Castro said in her address that was held on midnight Saturday, security forces in Honduras must “urgently carry out interventions” across the country that is currently witnessing “the highest rates of gang violence, drug trafficking, money laundering” and many other crimes.

The government plans to immediately construct a prison that can house 20,000 people near Olancho, a rural province in the eastern part of Honduras, according to Major General Roosevelt Hernandez, who serves as the chief of the staff of the army.

Police have escalated raids in recent months, which has significantly increased the population in the country’s prisons to about 19,500 inmates. Those prisoners are being crammed into a prison system that was only designed to house about 13,000 prisoners, according to CONAPREV, which is the Honduran national committee against torture.

As such, the country has moved quickly to address the issue by building new prisons. Just last year, new plans were announced for what will become the only island prison colony in the Western Hemisphere. The isolated prison will house 2,000 prisoners on the archipelago of Islas del Cisne, which is roughly 155 miles off the coast of the country’s mainland.

The defense council in Honduras has demanded that the country’s Congress change its penal code so authorities can detain suspected gang leaders without first filing charges. They also want mass trials to take place, just like they do for people who are alleged to be terrorists.

Castro has taken a hard-line stance on security measures, as narcoviolence has surged in the country over the last two years. In 2022, she imposed a state of emergency, suspending part of the country’s constitution in the process.

It’s a page that she took directly from the playbook of El Salvador’s Bukele.

Many human rights groups have criticized the actions by both Latin American leaders, accusing the governments of taking their anti-crime tactics way too far.