Friday, 13 May 2011

USAID and the privatisation of Honduras

The role of USAID in the New Selloff of Honduras
By Colectivo Morazán, 06 May 2011.
Translated by Adrienne Pine (

We fully back the sale of Honduras to the highest bidder.
Yours Truly,

On May 5th and 6th,more than 350 representatives of foreign corporations will meet in San Pedro Sula, Honduras at the conference called "Honduras is Open for Business," an event that is part of the National Program for Promoting Investment in Honduras 2010-2014.

One of the most obvious ways in which the U.S. is controlling the event "Honduras is Open for Business" is through NGOs created by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Honduras.

USAID was created in 1961 as an independent agency, but today it is overseen by the U.S. State Department. Although it describes itself as an agency for economic development and humanitarian aid, USAID exists to promove and move forward the political objectives of the U.S. government and complements the work of the State Department, the CIA and armed forces. USAID plays a key role in U.S. foreign policy. (source: La Botz, Dan. Made in Indonesia. Massachusetts: South End Press, 2001, pg. 305-306).

"Honduras is Open for Business" is a slogan created by the Foundation for Investment and Development of Exports (FIDE), after the 2009 coup d'état. FIDE is a "non-profit organization" created by USAID in 1984. It is directed by Hondurans, its board of directors is made up of Honduran businessmen and women, but its financing comes from USAID. (fuente: Honduras Culture and Politics

One of the various FIDE projects, the program called The Trade, Investment, and Competitiveness (TIC) created in 2005, has received more than $4.5 million dollars from USAID (source: Conroy, Bill. Millions of dollars in USAID funding still flowing to Honduras (August 27, 2009)). The TIC was created to further the advance of neoliberal free trade policies in Honduras, by creating and disseminating their ideologies through think tanks and lobbying the Honduran government. These are its three components:

The creation of a policy analysis unit within FIDE that will sustain the process of policy analysis and formulate TIC policies that will promote greater market access. This analysis unit is the "think tank" Centre for Economic and Social Research, Analysis and Proposals (CIPRES).
Strengthen the Economic Cabinet (ECC) in the development of its capacities to evaluate and follow-up economic policies, with a greater emphasis on policies and measures regarding trade, investment and competitiveness. Cooperate with the Government of Honduras to achieve the succesful implementation of CAFTA-DR.

Promote the active participation of private sector actors and stakeholders in the implementation of the CAFTA-DR and in TIC policy formulation and FTA negotiation and implementation.
The third component forms part of the activities of The Honduran National Business Council (COHEP), as is laid out in the description of the components. This component is carried out by COHEP, has created the Centro de Investigaciones Económicas y Sociales (CIES) which is partially funded by the Program. (source: CIPRES, Centro de Investigación y Propuestas Económicas y Sociales).

In the USAID Report titled: HONDURAS Country Assistance Strategy, Fiscal Years 2009-2013 it is clear to see how these NGOs created by USAID and the Honduran government are obeying the mandates of the United States. These NGOs, like the National Program for the Promotion of Investment in Honduras 2010-1014 and the "Honduras Open for Business" event are for the most part using the same language and the same goals laid out in the USAID strategic plan.

The following are just a few examples of the goals and language in this USAID report:

To support Honduras in Promoting Economic Growth and Prosperity, USG agencies, including the Departments of State and Commerce and USAID, will seek to expand the benefits of CAFTA- DR to all sectors of Honduran society, provide technical assistance to the private sector and the GOH to comply with the new requirements, and improve competitiveness by working with the private sector and the GOH to advance business climate reforms. Pg. 3

USAID, will also create public-private partnerships to support implementation of CAFTA-DR and provide technical assistance to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the private sector on compliance with CAFTA-DR obligations, in telecommunications, energy, and financial sectors. Pg. 10

The Department of State will support the development of biofuels in Honduras via the U.S.-Brazil Biofuels Initiative. Pg. 10

Champions willing to make the case for economic reforms will be identified and supported. Pg. 11

The Departments of State and Commerce, USAID, USDA, and the MCC coordinate closely on economic growth activities and issues, through periodic meetings. In addition, we also work closely with U.S. nongovernmental organizations, foundations, and other groups involved in promoting economic growth in Honduras. Pg. 12

As we can see, "Honduras is Open for Business" forms part of the long-term imperialist plan to control Honduran resources, led in large part by the economic and political interests of the U.S. This plan consists of the auctioning off not just of the natural resource of Hondurans but also of Honduran workers. The plan consists of handing control of the country over to corporations, foreign investors and Honduran elites.

This plan is being carried forth thanks to the manipulation of laws and the Honduran constitution, which began in earnest following the approval of the free trade agreement CAFTA-DR. The only role of the Honduran people is to serve as cheap labor, which has been guaranteed following the approval of the Hourly Wage Law in November 2010. This legislation robs Hondurans of many of their labor rights for which they have fought over the past century, leaving them without protection from labor abuses.

The CAFTA-DR, the coup d'état, the legal maneuvering and this conference have allowed the free entry of Corporate-Imperialists so that they can exploit natural resources, privatize infrastructure and enslave the workers in new plantations, maquilas and free trade zones.

The puppets, Porfirio Lobo Sosa and his golpista cabinet, are very obedient in implementing the demands of the U.S. government.

See also: Honduras is Open for Plunder, Lisa Sullivan, SOA Watch, 10 May 2011.