Saturday, December 12, 2009

Honduras news

I was perusing the local newspapers today, and what I found was...interesting.

There is a yearly Jerry Lewis type of telethon called....Teletón. Imaginative eh? This Teletón is for physical therapy and many such services to people from all over Honduras. It is a big event for the TV stations, some concerts, etc. all with the goal of raising money for the operation. Every year...this is a good news event because people unite in helping others. Unfortunately...that was about the only good news I found.

Oh sure, the country deals with more than its share of murders, robberies, corruption, etc. that is in the newspaper today as well (some reports indicate that Mel's administration misappropriated hundreds of millions of dollars while he was in office for just one recent example) but that is not especially surprising...unfortunately.

Those that did surprise me I will summarize (keep in mind, all these I just found today...adding to my surprise, and my posting of them here):

1. Unemployment in 2008 by this article's measure was about 28%. Before Mel was ousted, 51%, because of the political crisis, expected at 60-70% now. Especially interesting was that those eligible to work for a living was counted as anyone over 10 years old. Of those actually employed...36% work full time, but make less than the minimum wage.

2. I got letters from the embassy every time they put out a travel advisory warning US citizens to stay away from Honduras, and in my opinion taking pot shots where the could in writing those at the interim administration...but I did not get anything when they lifted the advisory, I had to see it in the paper. Why did they lift it? They re-evaluated the situation after the election. What changed? Nothing I can see...the guy elected is not even in office yet. Good grief. I am happy it was lifted...I just see no change in life here to warrant anything one way or the other and have not for the most part since all this started.

3. After years...many years of the Lempira holding steady against the dollar (since 2004 it has been in the 18.5:1 range, for most of those years at 18.8951:1), there is talk now of devaluing the Lempira again. I am no economist, but the argument is that if the Lempira is devalued, especially after a hard economic/political year as this one, that it would stimulate development and foreign investment and create new jobs. Sounds good right? The problem is that devaluing the Lempira hurts the poor most of all...all imported goods would rise in price for them since they have no dollars to change, and essentially what they have and what they make in lempiras would be worth less. would be less.

4. Here are a few stories even further summarized: The biggest driver of the Honduran economy, remittances, are down 11.1% this year. Maquilas are down 12% (mostly the textile industry, but any for-export factories here.) Construction down 35%, and the federal budget has a budget shortfall of almost $600 million.

5. There is not even Geico here, so we are not even saving any money on our car insurance.

1 comment:

Laurie said...

Good summary. I talked to a friend who does mission work in Nicaragua about the interesting way the unemployment rate is calculated in Honduras. Over 10 years old. I am ready to come home to H. So few people seem interested or ready to engage on behalf of the poor, whether it's H or elsewhere. I need to be back.