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Prison Fire Capital of the World?

"The story has now become so familiar that there's almost nothing more to say. We are now entering that dangerous point where we may be starting to become immune to it. After all, how many times can you yell fire before eventually no one bothers to pay attention anymore."

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By Marco Cáceres
Another prison fire in Honduras yesterday. The penitentiary in San Pedro Sula this time. Thirteen (or more) dead prisoners. The story is already making the international headlines...

It's now official; you think prison fire, you think Honduras. It's fair. After the Comayagua prison fire that killed more than 360 people on February 14, along with the other prison fire in San Pedro Sula in 2004 (107 dead) and the one at the prison in El Porvenir in 2003 (69 dead), Honduras just has to take the cake.

Honduran prisons are severely overcrowded by more than 50 percent. They are old and poorly maintained (including electrical systems, sewage systems, water systems, ventilation systems). The prisoners -- many from rival, violent street gangs -- are packed into cells like sardines, with few basic services. The guards are poorly-paid, poorly-educated police officers untrained for their unique duties. In a Catholic dominated country that does not believe in capital punishment, Honduran prisons are such deathtraps that simply being in one is akin to a death sentence.

The story has now become so familiar that there's almost nothing more to say. We are now entering that dangerous point where we may be starting to become immune to it. After all, how many times can you yell fire before eventually no one bothers to pay attention anymore? Kind of like stories about floods in Bangladesh, disasters in Haiti, starvation in Africa, suicide bombings in the Middle East, or the Greek debt crisis.

To read the full story, visit: www.hondurasweekly.com