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Republic of Honduras. Libre, Soberana e Independiente. . Honduran Government. Democratic constitutional republic Independent: September 15, 1821 Constitution 1982, amended 1999 Executive – President, direct election, single 4 year term Legislature – unicameral, 4 year term

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Republic of Honduras

Libre, Soberana e Independiente.


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Honduran Government

  • Democratic constitutional republic

  • Independent: September 15, 1821

  • Constitution 1982, amended 1999

    • Executive – President, direct election, single 4 year term

    • Legislature – unicameral, 4 year term

    • Judiciary – Supreme Court of Justice (appt by Congress 7 year terms, confirmed by President)

  • Political Parties – Conservative, Liberal, National, Innovation and National Unity, Christian Democratic, Democratic Unification

  • Suffrage – universal and compulsory (18)

  • Administrative subdivisions – 18 departments


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Source: Perry-Castañeda Library Map collection. Map No. 504929 1983


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Source: Perry-Castañeda Library Map collection. Map No. 504929 1983 (95K)


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Contemporary Honduras

  • Negatively impacted by CACM boom and economic and political turmoil of 1980s and 1990s.

  • Governed by armed forces into the 1980s

  • Shares characteristics with El Salvador, Guatemala and pre-revolutionary Nicaragua

  • Difference: non-violent domestic experience; government policy follows the Costa Rican pattern – uses government to alleviate impact of negative economic times and avoids or limits repression.


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Honduras

  • Lacks volcanic material – soils negatively impacted

  • 1800s first development of export economy due to insufficient infrastructure

  • Until 1970s – a calm counterpoint to the region’s violence.


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Elites in Honduras

  • No fully articulated elite class

    • Regionally based – not internationally driven by market interests

    • Emergence of coffee in post World War 2 era limits wealth accumulation

  • Poor Hondurans

    • Commercial banana production introduced by internationals at end of 1800s – and started in sparsely populated areas displacing few.

    • Land has been plentiful and accessible so even displaced persons have had land

    • Process of concentrating land ownership does not begin until mid-20th century (1900s)

  • Overall equitable social structures – consequences:

    • Military unneeded, remains underdeveloped, weak

    • Banana industry contribution to labor is moderated by Honduran government which has no vested interest (domestic elite ownership) in compressing wages

    • Labor – free of repressive actions by government or business becomes highly organized

    • Liberal/conservative political debate begins later in Honduras

      • Party development not until liberal party leader Marco Aurelio Soto president (1876-1883) prior to this non-ideological caudillos governed and changed power via coup process.

      • Aurelio Soto follows the liberal ideological pattern and begins the process of attracting foreign investors


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Modern Honduras

  • Mid-20th century on, Honduras begins to look more like other nations of Central America

    • Liberal/National (conservative) conflict intensifies

    • Land density/need emerges

    • Population growth increases

    • Tension between elites/peasants emerges

    • Militarization of the political system

      • Leadership vacuum (L/C conflict) draws military into government.

      • Military behaves more as arbiter between groups than as an agent of elites

      • Armed forces do not prove adept at governance – from either economic or political perspectives.

      • Carter administration pressures General Paz to relinquish power and he does so in 1980.

      • November 1981 – after constituent assembly to re-write constitution – presidential elections are held.


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Roberto Suazo Córdova

  • 1981 election wins clear majority – most likely with support of conservative military voters

    • Colonel Gustavo Alvarez Martinez takes command of Armed Forces

    • Takes office, promptly pressured by Reagan administration to assist U.S. against Sandinistas

  • Contra War support:

    • U.S. trains Salvadoran troops in Honduran territory

    • Contra army stationed in Honduras

    • U.S. military assistance program expands the size of the Honduran military

  • Consequences of Contra War support:

    • Situation causes Alvarez’s power to overshadow/intimidate civilian president

    • 1984 number of Contra forces in Honduras rivals the size of the Honduran military.

    • Disrupts public order along the Nicaraguan border

    • Emergence of death squads – numbers of political disappearances, murders increase

    • Leftist guerrilla groups emerge (up until this point an anomaly in Honduran politics)

    • Relations with Nicaragua deteriorate badly


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Slow development, sustained growth

  • Debt and Aid Debt: $3.41 billion (31 December 2007 est.) Aid Given: N/A Aid Received: $680.8 million (2005)

  • Labour ForceNumber in labour force: 2.78 million (2007 est.) Sectors: agriculture: 34% industry: 23% services: 43% (2003 est.) Unemployment: 27.8% (2007 est.)

  • GDP Facts and FiguresCurrency: lempira (HNL) GDP: $30.65 billion (2007 est.) GDP Per Capita: $4,100 (2007 est.) GDP Real Growth: 6.3% (2007 est.) GDP Composition: agriculture: 13.4% industry: 28.1% services: 58.6% (2007 est.) Production Growth Rate: 4.4% (2007 est.)

  • Industries, Land Use and Resource ConsumptionIndustries: sugar, coffee, textiles, clothing, wood products Land use: arable land: 9.53% permanent crops: 3.21% other: 87.26% (2005) Exports: coffee, shrimp, bananas, gold, palm oil, fruit, lobster, lumber Electricity Consumption: 4.036 billion kWh (2005) Natural Gas Consumption: 0 cu m (2005 est.) Oil Consumption: 43,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)

http://www.intute.ac.uk/sciences/worldguide/html/907_economic.html


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Contemporary Honduran Politics

  • 1990s – Liberal economic reforms – attempt to grow the economy out of mal-distribution; consolidation; authoritarianism

  • 1998 Hurricane Mitch kills 11,000 in the region (5,000 in Honduras)

    • Destroys infrastructure, homes, environment

    • 4 Billion in economic losses (National debt consumed 46% of GNP)

    • Granted relief under Heavily Indebted Poor Countries World Bank Program (900 million)

    • Structural adjustment and privatization followed as economy is restructured post Mitch.

    • 1 million Hondurans have emigrated to the U.S. – special dispensation post-M

  • Disaster aids the consolidation of civilian rule

    • Military incompetent in Mitch response.

    • Further undermined as President Flores (01/1998) completes the police reform

    • Re-emergence of civil society – investigations of military human rights abuses

    • Crime a persistent problem

    • Rise in gang violence

    • 1998-2002: 1,500 youths murdered (males under age 18) – “social cleansing”


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  • President Ricardo Maduro Joest (National Party - 2001) inaugurated in 2002.

    • deployed a joint police-military force to the streets to widen neighborhood patrols in the ongoing fight against the country's massive crime and gang problem

    • Neoliberal economic reforms

    • Worked to negotiate and ratify CAFTA

  • PresidentJose Manuel "Mel" Zelaya Rosales (Liberal – 2005) – “Citizen power” campaign theme

    • less than a 4% margin of victory, the smallest in Honduran electoral history.

    • vowed to increase transparency and combat narcotrafficking, while maintaining macroeconomic stability.

    • The Liberal Party won 62 of the 128 congressional seats, just short of an absolute majority


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