Passport

Not Even a Beauty Queen Is Safe From Honduras’s Epidemic of Violence

Even Honduras’s superstar beauty queen isn’t safe from the violence that plagues the Central American country. María José Alvarado, who was crowned Miss Honduras in April, disappeared with her older sister, Sofia Trinidad Alvarado, after a party in Santa Bárbara on Thursday, Nov. 13. Their bodies were found on Wednesday, buried in a riverbank. According ...

AFP Photo
AFP Photo

Even Honduras’s superstar beauty queen isn’t safe from the violence that plagues the Central American country.

María José Alvarado, who was crowned Miss Honduras in April, disappeared with her older sister, Sofia Trinidad Alvarado, after a party in Santa Bárbara on Thursday, Nov. 13. Their bodies were found on Wednesday, buried in a riverbank.

According to authorities, Sofia’s boyfriend, Plutarco Ruiz, confessed to shooting the sisters and led police to where he had buried the bodies. He and another man, an alleged accomplice in the crime, are in custody.

Following the disappearance of the two women and prior to the discovery of their bodies, the sisters were thought to have gone missing after reportedly getting in a car without a license plate. In a tearful appearance, the two women’s mother pleaded for the safe return of her daughters. Hondurans who had suspected the women were kidnapped took to the streets of Santa Bárbara to demand their release.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world of any country not at war, with 90.4 murders for every 100,000 people in 2012, the most recent year for which data is available. That rate is four times as high as Mexico’s and twice as high as Venezuela’s. In total, 7,172 people were murdered in Honduras in 2012.

Much of the violence plaguing Honduras is drug- and gang-related. The country is now a shipment point for drugs bound for the United States, and fierce gang wars have broken out to control that lucrative territory.

But the case of Miss Honduras and her sister seems to be more commonplace. According to police, Ruiz allegedly shot Sofia, 23, in retaliation for dancing with another man at the party they all attended to celebrate Ruiz’s birthday that night. When Miss Honduras tried to run, he shot her too. It’s unclear whether Ruiz is affiliated with any drug cartel.

María José Alvarado, who was only 19, was slated to compete in the Miss World competition in London next month. Honduras won’t send a runner-up.

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola