by Laura González C. and Arturo J. Viscarra
The coup d'état that Honduras suffered on June 28, 2009 marked the beginning of a series of aggressions against the people of the Central American country. Assassinations, torture, death threats and constant repression are some of the most serious consequences that the members of the Honduran Resistance have suffered since the coup.
In the economic sphere, the policies that the coup government and the government of Pepe Lobo have applied have generated serious confrontations between the U.S.-financed Honduran security forces and the population. In the last few months alone, mass demonstrations against the privatization of the education system were met with mass repression that resulted in the death of one school teacher, the arbitrary arrests of dozens more, and the firing of hundreds of teachers who participated. And now the Honduran people are faced with a new threat that can only be classified as a proposal for privatization on a grand scale.
On May 4th through 6th a conference titled "Honduras is Open for Business" will be held in the city of San Pedro Sula. According to the official site, this gathering "aims at re-launching Honduras as the most attractive investment destination in Latin America". The government of Honduras has invited over 1000 corporations to bid on at least 147 projects (it is unknown how many projects are being withheld from the public) with an estimated value of $14.6 Billion USD. This figure is only slightly less than what the annual Gross Domestic Product of Honduras was in 2010 ($16.3 Billion USD).
The project proposals that have been made publicly available are divided into 6 categories: Agribusiness, "Renewable" Energy, Tourism, Infrastructure, Forestry, and "Textiles, Transformation and Business Services". The proposals include: "Extraction and Commercialization of African Palm Oil", "Manufacturing Feed and Genetic Breeding of Swine", "Certified Transgenic Corn Seed Production", "Certified Production and International Trade of Exotic Pets", the privatization of the state telephone company (headed by coup leader, General Romeo Vasquez Velasquez), and the construction of five hydroelectric dams, amongst others.
According to the official "Honduras is Open for Business" agenda, those scheduled to speak during the conference include the Under-Secretary of Commerce for International Trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce , Francisco J. Sanchez; ex-president and implementer of the "Democratic Security" policy of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe; the world’s richest individual, Mexican billionaire, Carlos Slim; Stanford Economist and promoter of so-called "Charter Cities", Paul Romer; and Shen-Chung Lin, who "currently functions as the Adjunct Minister of the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Republic of China (Taiwan)".
This conference, with its billions in proposed private financing is a new coup aimed against the democratic right of the Honduran people to participate in the decisions that affect them most. If implemented, many of these projects would displace large amounts of Hondurans from their homes or introduce unfamiliar products that would cause untold harm to the country. "Honduras is Open for Business" is also a jolt to the conscience, considering that the U.S. government and multinational corporations are so eager to treat Honduras as an investment experiment at a time when the nation suffers from widespread social conflict and gross human rights violations.
Complete table of projects (in English)