Despite the official denial, local analysts consider that Honduras has little chance to withstand U.S. pressure.
In reaction to information disclosed by local outlet La Prensa on Monday, Honduras’ Foreign Minister Lisandro Rosales said Tuesday that President Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH) administration is not considering the “Safe Third Country” (STC) designation for migrants seeking refuge in the United States.
"Contrary to some publications, the talks with the U.S. do not contemplate that Honduras become a safe third country," Rosales tweeted and added that the bilateral agenda focuses on "regional security, investment promotion and temporary employment opportunities and programs, which aim to promote regular, safe and orderly migration."
According to the 1951 Refugee Convention, which is a binding document for all the United Nations members, any country can refuse to grant asylum to migrants and send them to a country that is considered "safe" for their lives.
This means that the U.S. could send asylum seekers to the first “safe” country where they arrived. From the perspective of President Donald Trump administration, the SFC territories could be Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Panama or any other country which agrees to receive migrants.
Nevertheless, Honduras' National Commissioner for Human Rights (Conadeh), Roberto Herrera, said his country does not have either financial resources or institutional capabilities to become a safe country.
Join us in the streets this Saturday alongside @CloseTheCampsNY @CosechaMovement @earth_nyc @macc_nyc @techworkerscony and many others to demand freedom for all migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers across the US, and to call out the white power profiteers in our city! https://t.co/WLIk4DFTr9— Outlive Them NYC (@outlivethemnyc) September 10, 2019
"Every 116 minutes there is a dead victim in Honduras," Herrera said and recalled that at least 79,400 people have died violently in his country over the last 15 years.
Despite the denial by the foreign ministry, Julio Navarro, a Honduran professor, warned that his country could indeed become an STC territory because President Trump has been trying to stop migratory flows by creating a “containment chain” which will begin in Mexico, pass through Guatemala and arrive in Honduras.
“The pressure coming from the U.S. is very strong; Honduras has no alternative,” Navarro told La Prensa and added that the JOH administration has “little room to oppose and set conditions” due to its low political legitimacy.
Local analysts also foresee that this "safe country" concept is being employed to create conditions that subsequently deny migrants rights.
“These ‘safe third country’ agreements are a strategy to totally dismantle the right to asylum. Honduras and El Salvador are the two primary refugee-sending countries in Central America right now--it's laughable to even think they'd be safe for other refugees,” Madeleine Wattenbarger, a Mexico City-based journalist, tweeted.