Country Listing

Honduras Table of Contents



One of the most important aspects of the Armed Forces of Honduras (Fuerzas Armadas de Honduras--FAH) is its political and economic influence. In some Central American countries, such as Guatemala and El Salvador, the armed forces emerged during the late nineteenth century as an appendage of powerful new coffee oligarchies. Its primary function was to maintain peace or to restore it in rural areas suffering from the major dislocations that coffee cultivation produced. In Honduras, however, it was the lack of government continuity and the desire of caudillos (political strongmen) to control the central government that eventually led to the creation of the Honduran military. This difference in origins is important because it explains differences in contemporary military behavior. The Honduran military never developed a strong and overriding allegiance to a landed oligarchy or to any other single economic interest group; it could thus play a mediating role when the interests of the oligarchy clashed with those of the less privileged classes.

Although the political role that the armed forces has historically performed has remained largely the same, major changes in military organization and structure have occurred since national independence was achieved in 1838. The evolution of the armed forces took place in three stages. From 1838 until 1922, the military was a tool of the political faction or party in power. Between 1922 and 1963, the military forged an independent institutional identity (with guidance and aid from the United States). After 1963 a number of national and international developments occurred that moved the armed forces farther along the road toward institutional consolidation and organizational sophistication.

Data as of December 1993