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Why Children are Fleeing Central America

July 31, 2014 Comments off

Why Children are Fleeing Central America (PDF)
Source: Bread for the World Institute

Since last October, more than 52,000 unaccompanied children have fled unspeakable conditions and crossed into the United States. Most have come from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. By year’s end, that number is expected to grow to between 70,000 and 90,000. The Department of Homeland Security is preparing for more than 100,000 children to arrive in 2015. The United States is witnessing a humanitarian crisis in this situation.

Many members of Congress are focusing on detention centers and how fast the United States can send these children back to their home countries. Few are asking this question: What are we sending these children back to? Without addressing the root causes of this crisis, such as poverty and violence, this situation will continue. More and more children will be driven to flee their home countries in search of greater educational and economic opportunities, safer and more stable communities, and a path out of hunger.

This crisis is not just about the surge of new arrivals in the United States. It is also about the conditions of poverty, hunger, and violence that force children to leave their homes on a very dangerous and uncertain journey:

• 75 percent of these children are coming from three countries: Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.
• More than half of the citizens of Honduras and Guatemala live on less than $4 a day.
• About half of all Guatemalans suffer from moderately or severely stunted growth.
• Honduras has the highest murder rate per capita in the world. It is almost five times that of Mexico and twice that of Detroit.
• Residents of all ages, including children, in these countries are getting caught in gang-related violence.

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CRS — Honduras-U.S. Relations

August 5, 2013 Comments off

Honduras-U.S. Relations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Honduras, a Central American nation of 7.9 million people, has had close ties with the United States over many years. The country served as a base for U.S. operations in Central America during the 1980s, and it continues to host a U.S. military presence and cooperate on anti-drug efforts today. Trade and investment linkages are also long-standing, and have grown stronger in recent years through the implementation of th e Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). Migration is another central concern in bilateral relations; over 702,000 Hispanics of Honduran origin live in the United States—nearly two-thirds of whom are foreign born. Although the U.S.-Honduras relationship was somewhat strained as a result of the 2009 political crisis in Honduras, close cooperation quickly resumed in 2010. Since then, broad U.S. policy goals in Honduras have included a strengthened democracy with an effective justice system that protects human rights and enforces the rule of law, and the promotion of sustainable economic growth with a more open economy and improved living conditions.

MPI Issues Final Report on Advancing Regional Competitiveness in the United States, Mexico, and Central America

May 6, 2013 Comments off

MPI Issues Final Report on Advancing Regional Competitiveness in the United States, Mexico, and Central America (PDF)
Source: Migration Policy Institute

The final report of the Regional Migration Study Group, Thinking Regionally to Compete Globally: Leveraging Migration & Human Capital in the U.S., Mexico, and Central America, outlines the powerful demographic, economic, and social forces reshaping Mexico and much of Central America and changing longstanding migration dynamics with the United States. The Study Group, co-chaired by former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, former US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, and former Guatemalan Vice President and Foreign Minister Eduardo Stein, offers a forward-looking, pragmatic agenda for the United States, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras — focusing on new collaborative approaches on migration and human-capital development to strengthen regional competitiveness.

Regional Migration Perspectives: Trends, Patterns, and Policies in Central America, Mexico, and the U.S.

March 28, 2013 Comments off

Regional Migration Perspectives: Trends, Patterns, and Policies in Central America, Mexico, and the U.S.
Source: Migration Policy Institute

The Migration Information Source has launched a new special issue that focuses on the topic of migration in the United States, Mexico, and the Northern Triangle of Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras). The special issue, which will run through April, delves into a wide range of migration developments in this dynamic, interconnected region.

CRS — Honduras-U.S. Relations

February 25, 2013 Comments off

Honduras-U.S. Relations

Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Honduras, a Central American nation of 7.9 million people, has had close ties with the United States over many years. The country served as a base for U.S. operations in Central America during the 1980s, and it continues to host a U.S. military presence and cooperate on anti-drug efforts today. Trade and investment linkages are also long-standing, and have grown stronger in recent years through the implementation of the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). Migration is another central concern in bilateral relations; over 731,000 Hispanics of Honduran origin live in the United States, two-thirds of whom are foreign born. Although the U.S.-Honduras relationship was somewhat strained as a result of the 2009 political crisis in Honduras, close cooperation quickly resumed in 2010. Since then, broad U.S. policy goals in Honduras have included a strengthened democracy with an effective justice system that protects human rights and enforces the rule of law, and the promotion of sustainable economic growth with a more open economy and improved living conditions.

Political Situation
Porfirio Lobo was inaugurated president of Honduras in January 2010, assuming power after seven months of domestic political crisis and international isolation that had resulted from the June 2009 ouster of President Manuel Zelaya. While the strength of Lobo’s conservative National Party in the legislature has enabled his administration to pass much of its policy agenda, Lobo has had limited success in resolving the many challenges facing Honduras. His efforts to lead the country out of political crisis, for example, have helped Honduras secure international recognition but have done little to rebuild confidence in the country’s political system. An ongoing constitutional crisis triggered by the National Congress’ December 2012 removal of four Supreme Court justices demonstrates the extent to which democratic institutions remain fragile. Lobo is relatively unpopular as he enters the final year of his term, with 70% of Hondurans disapproving of his performance in office.

Security and Human Rights
The poor security and human rights situation in Honduras has continued to deteriorate under President Lobo. Honduras has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, and common crime remains widespread. Moreover, human rights abuses—which increased significantly in the aftermath of Zelaya’s ouster—have persisted. A number of inter-related factors have likely contributed to this situation, including the increasing presence of organized crime, weak government institutions, and widespread corruption. Although the Honduran government has adopted a number of policy reforms designed to address these challenges, conditions have yet to improve.

Economic Conditions
Lobo also inherited a weak economy with high levels of poverty and inequality. Honduras suffered an economic contraction of 2.1% in 2009 as a result of the combined impact of the global financial crisis and domestic political crisis. Although the economy has partially recovered, with estimated growth of 3.8% in 2012, the Honduran government continues to face serious fiscal challenges. The central government’s deficit has been growing since 2011, and it has struggled to finance the budget. Public employees and contractors have gone unpaid, and basic governmentservices have been interrupted. Honduras also continues to face significant social disparities, with over two-thirds of the population living in poverty.

Congressional Action
Members of the 111th and 112th Congresses expressed considerable interest in Honduras, focusing in particular on the state of the country’s democratic institutions in the aftermath of the 2009 political crisis as well as the significant security and human rights challenges that have plagued the country in recent years. These issues are likely to remain on the agenda for the 113th Congress.

This report examines current conditions in Honduras as well as issues in U.S-Honduras relations.

Border Insecurity in Central America’s Northern Triangle

November 9, 2012 Comments off

Border Insecurity in Central America’s Northern Triangle (PDF)

Source: Migration Policy Institute

Governments in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras have historically neglected their borders, with Mexican-based trafficking cartels the latest to take advantage of the uncontrolled borders. The authors outline the long-standing pattern of government inattention to the borders – probing root causes that range from institutional, economic, and resource challenges to corruption and weak government structures. Arguing that a focus on the borders per se is misleading, the authors sketch a number of policy recommendations, including the need to focus on providing state services to the neglected areas.

Exchanging People for Money: Remittances and Repatriation in Central America

July 31, 2012 Comments off

Exchanging People for Money: Remittances and Repatriation in Central America (PDF)
Source: Bread for the World Institute

Immigrants from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras sent home more than $10 billion in remittances in 2011— almost all of it from the United States. Remittances comprised 17 percent of GDP in Honduras, 16 percent in El Salvador, and 10 percent in Guatemala and they dwarf both foreign direct investment and overseas development assistance. Remittances reduce poverty and help millions of families that receive them obtain food, clothing, education, housing, and health care, but they can also create dependence on the diaspora. Their greatest potential— fueling productive investment that generates jobs and income and reduces immigration pressure—is often untapped. In addition to the flow of money back to Central America, in recent years the number of immigrants returning from the United States to their home countries has increased. During fiscal year 2011, the United States deported a record 396,906 unauthorized immigrants, including more than 76,000 Central Americans. Central American governments are unprepared for these returned migrants. Many deportees end up re-migrating to the United States because of the lack of opportunities in their native countries.

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