A five-year neoliberal program in Honduras has contributed to the country’s far-reaching civic and economic deterioration. The increased privatization of Honduras’ economic activity and militarization of its police force has exacerbated the country’s rapid decline into inequality, violence, and lawlessness. The US has backed many of developments with $65 million in aid since 2008.
A 2009 coup against President Jose Manual Zelaya resulted in the eventual election of Juan Orlando Hernandez and his conservative National Party. The Hernandez regime has overseen an array of US-supported polices and programs.
These have included formation of the Policia Militar de Orden Publico (PMOP), an elite force serving under direct command of the presidency, and Zonas de Empleo y Desarrollo Económico (special employment and economic development zones) or ZEDEs—charter cities frequently under the patronage and control of transnational investors.
ZEDEs projects involve local and international investors building infrastructure, Danielle Mackey describes in the New Republic. “The territory in which they invest becomes an autonomous zone from Honduras … The investing company must write the laws that govern the territory, establish the local government, hire a private police force, and even has the right to set the educational system and collect taxes.”
Despite police militarization and crackdowns, Honduras now has the world’s second highest murder rate and includes two of the world’s five most violent cities. Unrestricted gang activity magnifies already pervasive corruption in police and government institutions.
Sources: Erika Piquero, “Who Really Benefits From Honduras’ Model Cities?” Latin Correspondent, October 22, 2014, http://latincorrespondent.com/honduras/who-benefits-from-ciudades-modelos-model-city-development/.
Danielle Marie Mackey, “US Conservatives Are About to Run a Dangerous Economic Experiment in Honduras,” New Republic, December 14, 2014, http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120559/honduras-charter-cities-spearheaded-us-conservatives-libertarians.
George Rodriguez, “Is Honduras Heading For the Privatization of Parts of Its Territory?” Tico Times, January 18, 2015, http://www.ticotimes.net/2015/01/18/is-honduras-heading-for-the-privatization-of-parts-of-its-territory.
Mike LaSusa, “The Nightmare Libertarian Project to Turn This Central American Country Into Ayn Rand’s Paradise,” AlterNet, January 27, 2015, http://www.alternet.org/world/nightmare-libertarian-project-push-one-central-american-country-through-massive-privitization.
Student Researcher: Grecia Gonzales (Florida Atlantic University)
Faculty Evaluator: James F. Tracy (Florida Atlantic University)