A job like any other

A taxi driver, barber, or funeral director by day. Sicario (hitman) by night. In Honduras, life’s easier with a second job, above all when a single payment can be up to 10,000 dollars. Naturally, it’s not every day you get to remove a politician who’s become a pain in the neck to the drug cartels or got a bit too close for comfort to the interests of some gringos, but payment is as certain as death. As is the promise of a tattoo. Even for some cheap, less demanding jobs: extortion, dealing, local theft. For those you even get to use a pistol, a 9mm or a 38. And that is something you want to keep nearby when you’re having a shave, or beneath your pillow when you’re taking a nap, or even on your way to the bakery. Because, from one day to the next, there’s always the chance you’ll find yourself floating in a river, as belonging to a big gang like Los Cachiros or the Cartel del Atlàntico is not always a guarantee of protection.

It’s easy to make mistakes, like walking through an area controlled by someone else: the outskirts of San Pedro Sula, at the top of the list of the most dangerous cities in the world with around. 111 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants, are a continuous succession of shacks and muddy lanes where the only light to brighten the night is that of the police sirens. Or the searchlights coming together around yet another body of someone far too young. The path of the sicario is a one-way street: when you grow up without a mother or a father, without schooling, without money, the gang soon becomes your family. It feeds you and protects you, but everything’s got a price and all debts must eventually be paid. With an AK-47 or an AR-15 in your hand, pulling the trigger can solve any bad mood. And if you don’t feel right about it, no problem: the “family” will let you walk, but it will no longer protect you from rival gangs. Or, even worse, it will cut off all relations period, because those who know but do not work are just a thorn in their side. Mi casa es tu casa.  Certain embraces in Honduras are so strong that they only end in death.

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