[Marxism] Honduras: Business suffering badly from conflict

Stuart Munckton stuartmunckton at gmail.com
Fri Oct 16 19:10:06 MDT 2009


Honduran Businesses Suffer as Political Crisis Continues   By Brian Wagner
*16 October 2009*

 More than three months into a political crisis in Honduras, business
leaders are starting to feel the pain. Owners say the dispute between ousted
President Manuel Zelaya and the interim government is scaring off new
investment and creating other problems.

"This is the Tegu Honduras factory," explains U.S. entrepreneur Chris
Haughey. He has high hopes for his fledgling toy manufacturing company in

"We have our woodworking machinery here. We are making wooden toys," Haughey

After doing social work with street children in Honduras, Haughey chose to
locate his new business in the country. That was before President Manuel
Zelaya was removed from power in June.

Since then, protests in support of the ousted president and against him have
shut down the capital several times. Mr. Zelaya, who has sought refuge in
the Brazilian embassy, is demanding to be returned to office. In an effort
to curb violence, the interim government has imposed curfews and other

Many Hondurans have tried to return to their normal routines. Haughey says
he has seen nothing so far to deter his toy manufacturing. But recent
curfews have created some problems.

"When you have a curfew that extends into the work day or even into the
evening, say five or six o'clock, it affects businesses because they have to
shut down and send the workers home," he notes.

Under intense pressure, the interim government has backed away from the
curfew. Haughey says many businesses view the interim government as more
friendly than Zelaya's administration.

"It is hard to know whether or not what is going on right now has delayed
things [business] or sped them up," Haughey says. "There were massive
bureaucratic and administrative delays under the Zelaya administration."

Mr. Zelaya's critics accuse him of eroding protections to business and
pushing the country toward socialism. His supporters blame the interim
government for launching a coup that is scaring away foreign investment.

Economists say it is too early to estimate losses. Political scientist
Eduardo Gamarra of Florida International University says there is no doubt
the economy is suffering.

"In countries like Honduras, those kind of hits are very difficult to make
up," Gamarra says.

In Miami, Honduran businessman Gerardo Padilla puts his losses at nearly a
half million dollars in canceled contracts so far.

"Micheletti, he is not going to pay me. Mr. Zelaya is not going to give me
my money back. What do I need to do to keep my business stable in coming
months?" asks Padilla.

Padilla blames both sides for the crisis affecting his company which makes
and exports garbage trucks to Honduras. He says buyers are canceling
purchases and other investments because of the uncertainty.

"If I were in their position, I would make the same decisions they are
making," Padilla says. "I would cancel deals to avoid investing in a country
that offers me no security at all."

Padilla says it may take months to rebuild trust in the Honduran economy. In
the meantime, many business leaders are likely to delay new investments
until the crisis passes. Real estate developer Karen Bush hopes new
elections scheduled for November will repair foreign confidence.

"We want to convince the international community to just accept our
elections and allow us to continue and move to the next page," says Bush.

That may be a difficult task. The United States and other nations have
warned they will not recognize the vote unless the political crisis is
resolved. Diplomats in Tegucigalpa aim to reach a deal between the interim
government and the ousted leader as soon as possible.

A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing
at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing.
And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country,
sets sail. Progress is the realisation of Utopias." — Oscar Wilde, Soul of
Man Under Socialism

"The free market is perfectly natural... do you think I am some kind of
dummy?" — Jarvis Cocker

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