In Honduras, as anywhere, we rely for the protection of students and staff on a combination of common sense and the local police. Pueblo Nuevo and Petoa have a combined population of ca. 3,000. There is a police station about two blocks from where we live. Both communities are fairly quiet but this does not mean that we can be complacent about security. The armed robbery of the program's payroll in March, 2000, highlights the need to be alert. Though this was the only time in our 33 years of working in Honduras that we were bothered in this way, we have taken steps to enhance security at the site and houses, to make certain there are no future problems. In particular, the following procedures were in place throughout the 2008 program and work very well:
All local program staff are paid by check in an office away from the site. The motivation for the 2000 robbery was the payroll that was paid in cash. Immediately after that incident, we converted to a check payment system and have had no further problems.
All vegetation around the site where we will be excavating will be cut to the ground before work begins. This enhances visibility and reduces the chance of having unannounced visitors.
There will be guards at the site equipped with two-way radios that connect them with each other, the directors, staff working in town, and the police. Should they detect any untoward activities, the guards will inform the police and receive immediate assistance.
The same arrangement will be instituted for the houses, a different set of guards watching our residences during the night. Once again, they will use their radios to alert the directors and police of any suspicious activity.
All houses will be equipped with radios so that we may communicate amongst ourselves.
We were back in Pueblo Nuevo and Petoa from May through August, 2001, and, again, from January-July, 2002, 2004, and 2008 working with students. We tested out the above procedures and confirmed that they worked more than satisfactorily. More importantly, we found that the residents of both towns were happy to see us and warmly welcomed our return. Such acceptance is comforting, and is the strongest assurance of our safety and enjoyment of life in Honduras that we can have. The security procedures outlined above are precautions comparable to those employed by any institution concerned for the safety of its members. We are not anticipating any trouble, but feel that it is prudent to take steps to ensure that all of us, students and staff alike, will have a safe and productive season.