The following interview with Alex Madrid, then chief of National Police for the Bay Islands, was recorded February 23, the day Honduras’s Sunday dry law went into effect. Madrid was standing with two of his officers in front of El Boske in West End around 7 p.m., two hours after the law supposedly required all establishments to stop serving alcohol. Activity inside appeared normal. Madrid, who said he previously worked in public relations for the National Police, was removed from his post shortly after this interview, after less than six months on the job. We publish the transcript now because of what it reveals about the attitudes at least some senior officials with the National Police hold about the Bay Islands, about being assigned here, about crime in general and about their accountability to the public they are sworn to protect. The interview was conducted in Spanish. This is an English translation.
BIV: What’s the situation with the supposed “Dry Law” that was to take effect tonight?
Madrid: Who do you work with?
BIV: With the Bay Islands Voice magazine.
Madrid: Where’s that magazine from?
BIV: I publish it here on the island.
Madrid: And how do you see the security situation here?
BIV: Well, the question I have now is what is the rule concerning serving alcohol after 5.
Madrid: How do you see the security situation here?
BIV: Well, it’s better than before, but there are still problems.
Madrid: What problems are there?
BIV: Robbery, assault, murder …
Madrid: Who got murdered?
BIV: About 25 people last year. An American woman was murdered in December.
Madrid: And who murdered her?
BIV: A local man.
Madrid: Who was that man? Wasn’t he her lover?
BIV: That’s what some people say.
Madrid: How did you know that woman?
BIV: I didn’t know her personally.
Madrid: Then you didn’t know what you were writing about.
BIV: I just heard rumors about their relationship.
Madrid: So you published rumors?
BIV: I didn’t write anything about that case, sir.
Madrid: You’re saying there was a murder two months ago, and it was a very special situation. If you get involved with a bad person, and she shoots you, it’s your problem, because you chose a woman …
BIV: Excuse me, I didn’t publish a single word about that case.
Madrid: But you’re telling me that two months ago somebody got killed, and that increases the insecurity. What other security issue is there on the island? What other problem is there apart from that one? List them for me … I’m in charge of security here and I’m interested to know, what is the dimension you’re going to give to this supposed problem you’re going around investigating?
BIV: Right now I’m just investigating what’s the situation with serving alcohol after 5.
Madrid: Look, you’re a learned person. You know that laws have a general character. But in each case the police go about their jobs, in each place in the same manner as they always have. They’re working as normal but trying not to affect the common good, neither of the investors nor of the tourists.
BIV: Then you haven’t received any instructions tonight to stop people from drinking alcohol after 5 p.m.?
Madrid: In this case we are assisting the municipal police to create a peaceful atmosphere where there is no conflict … Because you, if you come here as a tourist, you don’t come armed. You don’t come looking for trouble. You come to enjoy yourself … For us, complying with the order from the high command, we comply simply by trying to assure that it doesn’t affect the peace and tranquility of the place. That’s what interests us, knowing that everything is harmonious. … The situation for the tourist has not changed. Tourists can continue to come and enjoy themselves.
You tell me in what other part of the world where there is tourism nobody’s going to steal your purse, nobody’s going to steal your I-Pod, nobody’s going to steal your telephone, nobody’s going to steal your computer. If you find me a place in the world where that happens, sincerely …
BIV: Move there?
BIV: In the past I’ve gone by the National Police headquarters every month to get the data on crime incidents reported to publish them in my magazine. I would like to continue doing that.
Madrid: Through official channels.
BIV: What’s an official channel?
Madrid: If you come by as an accredited member of the communications media, I’ll give you the information as appropriate. … I don’t see any accreditation on you.
BIV: Who do I need to get accreditation from? My magazine has been in publication here 11 years.
Madrid: What media outlet do you work for? … I don’t know if you’re really somebody who works for a magazine or just somebody looking for information.
BIV: I can bring you a copy of my magazine.
Madrid: Well, if you give me a copy, I would be very appreciative.
Epilogue: We did drop by the National Police headquarters a couple weeks later, as Police Chief Madrid suggested, and brought along a free copy of the latest issue of the Voice. The officer in charge of logging crime reports very graciously gave us the data for February, as we requested. Five weeks after we conducted this interview, a cruise ship employee was murdered in broad daylight in Coxen Hole for his I-Pad – not by his lover. By that time, Madrid had already been reassigned. All tolled, seven people have been murdered on the island since this interview was recorded. [/private]