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, September 17, 2009

Cultural Policy is Economic Policy Too...

On September 1, the de facto regime's appointee to control the Secretariat of Culture, Arts, and Sports engineered the dismissal of the Director of the Institute of Anthropology and History, continuing a line of questionable dismissals of distinguished heads of units of the Ministry of Culture.

In previous posts, we have explored some of the reasons for the apparent targeting of the Ministry of Culture for special attention, including the promotion of progressive thought by the dangerous distribution of books, the sharing of historical information the de facto regime would rather we all not know, the ethical rejection of the use of a public monument for military purposes, and the principled support by the Minister, now in exile in the US, for the rights of indigenous and African-descendant people.

In the aftermath of the firing of the Director of IHAH, a document was circulated sketching out the many negative effects on the work of that autonomous institute in the wake of coup. Running to seven pages, my translation is too long to post as a single blog entry (and probably of marginal interest to many readers of this blog). But it is a rich and detailed look at what has been happening to brilliant advances in cultural policy that took place over the past three years, and it will be no surprise that money is a large part of the story here also. This case provides both illustrations of the effects of loss of international funding on important cultural projects, and the way that the fiscal policy of the de facto regime can choke off existing projects.

The level of funding lost from the US Department of State, Ambassador's Fund, UNESCO, Spain's Cooperative Fund, and International Development Bank adds up to at least $6.2 million, with up to $8 million in projects planned for the coming three years.

The Instituto Hondureño de Antropología e Historia also reports budget requests for projects, including counterparts to the international aid listed above, that were denied by the de facto government, adding up to over $269,000.

The disruption of legitimate management of the Instituto also placed in limbo projects for which the IHAH already had been allocated funds, adding up to about $118,469.

The economic cost to the management of cultural programs in Anthropology and History: at least $6.5 million, and up to $14.5 million.

Of course, equally important for us to examine is not just the economic impact, but also, what the programs now disrupted would have been. That will be the subject of another post, another day.

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