Responses to the Coup d'etat in Honduras on Sunday June 28, with special emphasis on producing English-language versions of commentaries by Honduran scholars and editorial writers and addressing the confusion encouraged by lack of basic knowledge about Honduras.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Economic pressure (finally): lets follow the money a little, shall we?

The Associated Press is reporting that the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE) is "freezing credits to Honduras". They add that this is getting media attention in Honduras, as it could bring a halt to highway and other public works projects. The report says BCIE financing over the past five years amounts to $971 million.

These not only provide necessary economic development, through employment and purchase of materials; they also are critical in a country that still suffers from inadequate basic infrastructure.

While the report says "the freeze is provisional, while the banks' governors weigh whether to suspend financing", that technical difference is largely immaterial on the ground in Honduras.

Because the largest beneficiaries of loan-funded infrastructure projects are actually the owners of the businesses contracted by the government to undertake them, this measure, and others like it, can hit directly at those who supported the coup.

It is not coincidental that the National Congress of Honduras, since it illegally removed President Zelaya from the country and illegally appointed its own president in his place, has spent the bulk of its time (between rejecting international demands for restoration of democracy) in passing laws that authorize infrastructure spending.

A list of Decretos passed in 2009, available on the Congressional website, shows that beginning with Decreto 141-2009 of June 28, in which the Congress rationalized its illegal removal of President Zelaya, through July 27, Congress had passed 17 laws.

The national budget, whose passage the de facto regime has made much of, accusing the Zelaya government of serious crimes for not having accomplished this, was only passed on July 21 (decreto 157-2009).

Before that, however, the regime, untroubled by lack of a budget, passed 6 bills approving contracts for infrastructure projects or transferring funds to specific towns for such efforts.

Even more interesting: according to their own index, in the irregular Sunday session called June 28 to whitewash the military coup, before they got around to that item of business, the Congress took the time to pass other bills, including two that let contracts for loans from the BCIE and BID (International Development Bank). These were for $28.55 million US and $16.7 million US (respectively).

Anyone who doubts that money is at the root of this entire debacle should sit up and take notice.


Nell said...

The Millenium Challenge Corp. funding that has continued to flow to Honduras since the coup is in the same category -- infrastructure spending that goes directly to the business owners.
One big MCC project in Honduras is a highway for which the contractor is Elvin Santos' company.

See my comments over at Greg Weeks' for links.

Unknown said...

When the money gets short, the rich can tighten their belts - the poor don't have belts to tighten.

Remember that as you gloat.

RAJ said...

And who is gloating, pray tell?

It would seem that boasting about having the economic resources to continue an illegitimate regime would precisely define the term.

I, on the other hand, am concerned about all the Honduran people-- including the many who qualify as rich and the increasing number we might call middle class-- whose lives have been disrupted by the creation of an internationally disavowed regime by a few people who do have personal resources and thus the luxury not to suffer as others are.

One of the most corrosive and tiresome and false claims of coup apologists is that those against the illegal regime are solely the poor. (And many of the statements in this regard share the kind of automatic contempt for the poor that this writer shows.)

That is not true. Much of the educated class of Honduras is also mobilized against the break in constitutional order, even when (as some of my friends wrote me early in July) they were not supporters of the Zelaya administration itself.

And to this commentator, whose callousness in the face of the suffering of others speaks for itself, I would say: the poor may not have belts to tighten; but they also know how to do without things the rich have never imagined being without, whether it is clean water to drink, medicine for illness, or food every day.

So don't count on winning a belt-tightening contest, my friend.