Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Honduran Crisis and its Impact on Honduran Development

by Chris Dell'Amore

In lieu of the recent political events in Honduras, one can only hope that the tumultuous conflict in one of the world’s poorest nations is remedied as quickly as possible. Combined with the recent economic crisis, the political conflict only adds to the instability and challenges facing poor Hondurans every day. While coups in Latin America during the 1980s were commonplace, we no longer live in a day and age where threats to democracy can be tolerated by the global community. At GFI where our primary concern is to improve livelihoods for working poor in developing nations, we are saddened by the undermining of the rule of law in Honduras, and catastrophic impact that may have on foreign assistance and other investment that support the people of Honduras.

As of 2004, 50.7% of the Honduran population was living below the poverty line according to the United Nations. This high percentage is illustrative of the vulnerability of Hondurans and the need for stable political leadership to promote economic and social initiatives. As of Tuesday, June 29, Honduras’s economic woes have worsened as Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua temporarily suspend commerce with Honduras. Also, Honduras’s largest trading partner, the United States, has vehemently condemned the coup and threatened to cut millions of dollars of aid should the interim government not reach a consensus with the O.A.S. In addition, the World Bank has suspended the $270 million loan to the Honduran government and will not pursue any projects in the country until Zelaya is reappointed. Likewise, the Central American Bank for Economic Integration’s (CABEI) developmental projects have been temporarily halted. CABEI has spent $400 million on development of infrastructure in Honduras since 2007. Should the O.A.S. and the Honduran government not reach a consensus, the Inter-American Development Bank will also pause any programs in Honduras while Nicaragua and Venezuela have call for the United States to place economic sanctions on the nation. The repercussions of Zelaya’s exile will be devastating to the Honduran people as an already impoverished nation facing 27.8% unemployment will most definitely see a decrease in foreign investment resulting from political instability.

The need for foreign assistance, economic stability and leadership is paramount to helping the large numbers of Hondurans currently living in poverty. While the two regimes clash, the true victims are the hard-working Hondurans who labor for some of the lowest wages in the western hemisphere.

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