Saturday, June 30, 2012

Déficit habitacional supera las 900 mil unidades


SAN PEDRO SULA
La Prensa

El déficit habitacional en el país asciende a más de 900 mil viviendas, y el 60 por ciento de las existentes son unidades habitacionales que no reúnen las condiciones mínimas para ser habitadas, dijo Santiago Antonio Reyes Paz, subsecretario de Integración y Protección Social de la Secretaria de Desarrollo Social.
Estas cifras se dieron a conocer ayer en luego de llevarse a cabo en el hotel Princes el 36 Consejo Centroamericano de Viviendas y Asentamientos Humanos (CCVAH) en donde se reunieron viceministros de desarrollo social, vivienda y organización territorial de Centroamérica. Reyes Paz añadió que dijo que en Honduras la mayoría de las viviendas hay que mejorarlas en sus estructuras porque no tienen las condiciones mínimas para ser habitadas.
Indicó que el 45 por ciento de los hondureños no tienen vivienda por lo que el CCVAH y la Secretaría de la Integración Social Centroamericana (SISCA) están analizando la problemática de vivienda en los diferentes países de centroamericanos. Añadió que 4 de cada 10 hondureños pagan alquiler o viven con un familiar, algunas veces bajo hacinamiento.
Por su parte Leonel Ayala, comisionado presidencial para el Valle de Sula, dijo que en Honduras la situación de vivienda se está evaluando porque este es uno de los países con mayor conflicto debido a que no se ha logrado establecer una verdadera política en el tema de vivienda. “El Estado pretende crear una política única para  poder gestionar un plan de vivienda que beneficie a la población”, aseguró Ayala. Ana Hazel Escrich, secretaría general de la Secretaria de la Integración Social Centroamericana (SISCA), expresó que la necesidad de vivienda es una situación que está afectando a todos los países centroamericanos.
Añadió que la población está creciendo alrededor de las ciudades y no de una forma ordenada y planificada. “El reto es encontrar el mejor uso para el territorio de manera que la población pueda ejercer sus actividades económicas pueda aportar al desarrollo de los países”, expresó.
A la reunión asistieron varios representantes de El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras y Guatemala para crear políticas que contribuyan a disminuir el déficit de vivienda en los países centroamericanos.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Honduras, penúltimo en turismo en Centroamérica


La Prensa
San Pedro Sula,
Honduras no ha podido lograr todavía que sus bellezas naturales y sus joyas históricas y culturales pesen más en la mente de los turistas que las cifras de violencia publicadas en informes internacionales y la mala imagen que le han dado algunos medios de comunicación extranjeros.
Los números así lo dicen, pues basta con ver los ingresos de algunos de los otros países en Centroamérica para comprobar que estos tienen muchos más visitantes y mayores divisas generadas por turismo.
El lanzamiento de Copán 2012, la Bahía de Tela , el 2x1 de La Ceiba, la proyección internacional que han dado los reality shows a las Islas de la Bahía, la expectativa por la próxima apertura del muelle de cruceros en Trujillo, etcétera, son proyectos que tienen pendiente dar los resultados esperados.
La mayoría, exceptuando Copán 2012 , no han podido ser promocionados en el extranjero para cautivar a los turistas y animarlos a visitar el suelo hondureño. Una de las pruebas más evidentes del decaimiento turístico es que en 2011 el turismo generó 11,726 empleos menos que en 2010.
Nelly Jerez, ministra de Turismo, reconoció que el país no atraviesa su mejor momento en el campo turístico.
“Si hablamos de número de turistas estamos probablemente en penúltimo lugar y también en lo que se refiere a ingresos, pues de la cantidad depende la cantidad de divisas generadas, pero incluiso así estamos mejor que en años anteriores. Aunque todo depende; si hablamos de turismo a nivel regional, o sea de centroamericanos que visitan otros países de la misma área, estamos en cuarto lugar”.
Leer mas aqui.

Spinning gold, or at least a few lempiras, from garbage


Workshop leader Sandra Sosa and avid students

Jody Paterson
A Closer Look
Making art with garbage isn't a new thing, but I hadn't really grasped the potential of it for poor countries until I watched a roomful of young Hondurans last week transform aluminum cans into pretty little sepia-coloured etchings.
One of the things that really stands out here in Copan, and I suspect in Honduras overall, is the absence of local crafts. The goods available for tourists are the garden-variety woven bracelets and leather-thong necklaces found in tourist markets around the world, and few are made here.
At the workshop in La Cumbre last week, the 40 or so people who had crowded into the one-room school for the two-day event were carefully pressing designs into empty beer cans to make picture frames and folding little pieces of old chip bags into lovely earrings. I could really see that with a little marketing advice, these guys could get something going on. 
There's a rather anemic tourist market in one of the streets downtown that desperately needs some local artisan work. I went looking for souvenirs to take back to Canada earlier this month and La Pintada's ubiquitous cornhusk dolls turned out to be the only option (I bought eight, which made two Maya-Chorti families quite ecstatic that day).
The workshop - put on by the organization I work for, Comision Accion de Social Menonita - was intended both as a way of teaching people how to create saleable products out of garbage, and getting them to rethink the way they throw their garbage everywhere.
Read more here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

An airport in Copán Ruinas


Central American Data Express
The financing has been assured by the Inter-American Development Bank, but the construction works that would increase the influx of international tourism by 20% are still awaiting a political decision.
IDB funds of $6.3 million, the land and the plans are all available, the only thing lacking is the political will to build it.The president of the National 
Chamber of Tourism in Honduras (CANATURH), Epaminondas Marinakys together with a Spanish expert in tourism have met with the Finance Minister who promised to carry out the project, adding "even if it is late, it has to be done" .
They believe that with the construction of the airport terminal international tourist visits to the archaeological park will increase by 20%.
Read the original story in Tiempo Digital

IDB loans $30 million for maternal and child hospital network


Honduras Weekly
"The hospital network in Honduras has reached a saturation point and suffers from lack of coordination. As a result many mothers and children do not receive adequate care, particularly for emergency situations. The large numbers of patients going to Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula to seek care is also overwhelming the hospitals in these cities."
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will provide US$30 million to help finance thematernal and child hospital network in the departments of Intibucá, Lempira, and Valle in southwestern Honduras, one of the poorest areas of the country. The goal is help reduce maternal and neonatal mortality in hospitals and improve coverage and quality of services through an innovative management model. The program will benefit 29,000 women of childbearing age and 12,500 newborns by significantly increasing the number of deliveries attended by health care professionals, improving care in the postpartum period for the mother and newborn, increasing the number of women receiving obstetrical care, and addressing problems of obstetric and neonatal complications.
The program will finance expansion and rehabilitation of infrastructure and equipment for the Enrique Aguilar Cerrato Hospital in Intibucá, the Juan Manuel Gálvez Hospital in Lempira, and the San Lorenzo Hospital in Valle, in addition to improvements in obstetric and neonatal care in regional and national hospitals that make up part of the network.
The hospital network in Honduras has reached a saturation point and suffers from lack of coordination. As a result many mothers and children do not receive adequate care, particularly for emergency situations. The large numbers of patients going to Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula to seek care is also overwhelming the hospitals in these cities.
The program includes an innovative decentralized management model in which the Ministry of Health signs agreements with three civil society organizations to administer the hospitals in their areas. A management framework will establish general regulations between the ministry and the managers. Additional annual agreements will be made with each manager that include details of services to be provided, goals, and finances.
The departments selected for inclusion in the program have the highest maternal and neonatal mortality rates in the country. Principal causes of mortality are respiratory conditions (61.2 percent), infections (26.4 percent) and premature birth (4.0 percent).
The IDB financing consists of a loan from the ordinary capital for US$21 million for a 30 year-term, with a grace period of 5½ years, and an interest rate from the Single Currency Facility; and a loan from the Fund for Special Operations for $9 million for 40 years with a grace period of 40 years and an annual interest rate of 0.25 percent. (6/24/12)
Note: This article was originally published by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in Washington, DC.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The power of dreams:Building capacity, changing lives


US AID
The Challenge of Dreaming My Life [Desafío de Soñar Mi Vida (DSMV)] methodology was created and started under the Regional Youth Alliance Program (AJR USAID‐SICA), now continued by Youth Alliance Honduras‐USAID (AJH). To date over 5,500 children and youth have been trained in the most high risk and vulnerable communities of San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba, Choloma, Distrito Central and Puerto Lempira.
DSMV was designed to help youth identify their capacities and discover their potential. With this knowledge, youth are encouraged to dream about their futures and establish goals to achieve their dreams. The AJH has trained volun‐ teer facilitators in this methodology, most of which are also youth living in the same vulnerable communities. These facilitators not only develop DSMV workshops with youth from the communities, but also become mentors who follow up on the goals and life plans that each young person.
Fourteen year old Jazmín grew up in the violent San Isidro community of Chame‐ lecon, San Pedro Sula. Orphaned at a young age, Jazmín lived with her older sis‐ ter who one day kicked her out of the house for bad behavior. With no family or anyone to lend her a hand, Jazmín took refuge in the streets, losing any aspira‐ tion and hope of a better life. "I was sad, resentful and felt completely abandoned. Anything that the street offered me, I took because I had nothing". One day, Jazmín was invited by another youth to a DSMV workshop. The work‐ shop and training impacted her life in a very positive way. Following the work‐ shop and training, Jazmín began to receive help from a mentor in the Outreach Center.
Today, due to help offered by the Outreach Center, Jazmín is studying sewing at the Technical Institute of Chamelecon. "Through the Challenge of Dreaming my Life, I understood that there are many good things I can accomplish. That is why I am also learning computers in the Outreach Center. Now I have so many things to do and I know that I'm capable of doing them". Jazmín has returned to live with her older sister, and spends her time studying and participating in Outreach Center activities. 
Read more here.

Friday, June 22, 2012

IDB lends $60 million to Honduras for violence prevention and criminal investigation program


The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has approved a $60 million loan to help the government of Honduras improve citizen security at the national and municipal levels. The resources will finance the strengthening of the institutional and operational capacity of the country’s Ministry of Security, National Police and local authorities to better prevent, investigate and solve crimes.
The country’s homicide rate hit 86.5 per 100,000 population in 2011, the world’s highest. Rates were even higher in certain municipalities. A full 74 percent of murders take place in urban areas, where the victims are predominantly men between the ages of 25 and 29. In addition, robberies increased by 24 percent between 2007 and 2011.
Honduras has 14,087 police officers, or 174 per 100,000 population, which is fewer than other Central American countries with the exception of Guatemala.
The program will boost the professional level of 3,000 new police officers. These new officers will enter the force through an improved recruiting system and study a modernized curriculum adopted to the country’s police educational system. The program also includes improvements in infrastructure and equipment for the Police Technical Institute.
On average, only four out of 100 reported crimes in the last four years were prosecuted, mainly due to weaknesses in the criminal investigation process. Of the total number of crimes reported to the National Police, only 22 percent had a complete investigation report.
The program will finance a crime analysis center, a criminal investigation laboratory, and technical training in investigation, criminology, and forensic techniques for all members of the police force.
Police performance evaluation and disciplinary systems will be administered by the newly created Police Force Investigation and Evaluation Office. Included will be a system for monitoring, rewarding and sanctioning police behaviors in accordance to codes of conduct. Equipment and infrastructure will be provided for a police force evaluation center.
In the area of crime prevention and citizen security for the country as a whole, work will be carried out in at least three of the 10 municipalities considered priorities by the government in the program “Safer Municipalities.” Activities include local participatory planning, establishment of local violence observatories, and comprehensive social and judicial service centers; and the construction and equipping of posts for community police.
The program also has South-South cooperation processes with the governments of Mexico and Colombia, to support strengthening national police capacity building as well as bolstering confidence in the institutions responsible for public safety, through greater transparency.
The program, which has a total cost of $64 million, will include local counterpart funding for $4 million. The executing agency is the Ministry of Security of Honduras.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hay cosecha histórica de café en Honduras


Cafés especiales también registrarán aumento de casi cien mil quintales
de los...
La Prensa
San Pedro Sula
La Prensa
El presidente de Adecafeh  (Asociación de Exportadores de Café de Honduras) Emilio Medina, aseguró que el país tiene garantizada la venta de hasta 6.7 millones de quintales de café, lo cual superara el pronóstico de los productores del aromático.
El exportador aseguró que lo anterior es una cifra halagadora ya que representa una generación de ingresos de 1,400 millones de dólares; y no descartó que los precios del grano vuelvan a sus niveles aceptables.
“Cualquiera puede decir que 150 dólares por quintal es un precio aceptable, sin embargo ya los costos de producción a nivel de fincas, a nivel de todos los precios han
subido. Estimamos que para Honduras el precio de costo de producción puede andar en unos 130 dólares, 125 teniendo la finca”, señaló.
Medina agregó que de la producción total, entre 200 mil y 250 mil quintales se quedan en el país para consumo interno. “Hemos tenido una cosecha más que históricamente récord”, concluyó.
Suben cafés especiales
Las exportaciones de cafés especiales también aumentarán en más de 100 mil quintales en la presente cosecha gracias al interés de los caficultores y la promoción que serealiza del aromático nacional a nivel mundial.
Asterio Reyes, presidente del Ihcafé (Instituto Hondureño del Café), aseguró que está creciendo la exportación de este tipo de cafés finos, cuyo precio no es regido por la bolsa sino por contratos con empresas internacionales: “Cada vez es mayor la cosecha de cafés especiales. En este período vamos a contar con una buena cantidad de sacos para atender ese tipo de mercados. Creemos que la exportación va a subir más de 100 mil quintales”, dijo.

Leer mas aqui.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Guatemala launches ambitious tourism strategy



Honduras Weekly
Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina has launched a new National Plan for Sustainable Tourism Development, an unprecedented initiative of huge importance for the tourism industry in the country.
At the launch of the program, which covers the period from 2012-2022, Pérez Molina said a new era of security, peace, development and dignity for Guatemala is about to commence.
Many took this as a reference to the Dawn of a New Age on December 21st 2012 predicted in the Maya's calendar.
“Today, four months after forming this new government, we are fulfilling one of the main components of our plan: to implement tourism as a state policy.
“Our aim is to position Guatemala as one of the best tourism destinations in the world and increase the number of visitors to our country, which will help generate jobs and revenue,” Pérez Molina said.
The new plan includes the creation of a new Secretary of Tourism in the Government of Guatemala, as well as the modification of the current law that regulates the Guatemala Tourist Board (INGUAT).
Pedro Duchez, the current director of INGUAT, and future secretary of tourism, said: “We are involving many different parties in this change: local authorities, community leaders, the tourism industry, international organisations, the private sector, the media and of course the Government.
“We are all working for a common objective: to present a positive image of the country and tell the world that Guatemala is much more than what has been said in the past, and that we are ready to welcome visitors with open arms.”
At present, the volume of tourism business is equal or bigger than that from oil, food or cars exports.
Tourism has become one of the main pillars of international commerce and represents one of the biggest sources of income in many developing countries.
In Guatemala, it is the second largest source of income, bringing in US$1.3 billion in 2011 through the arrival of more than 1.8 million tourists, mainly from the regional market (El Salvador, Honduras, Southern Mexico and the US). (6/19/12)
Note: This article was originally published by Breaking Travel News.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Timid steps on violence in Honduras


TEGUCIGALPA 
The Economist
LAST year Hondurans were about 80 times more likely than Western Europeans to be murdered. For men in their 20s, the odds were four times worse again. Poverty and a history of military rule meant that Honduras was never especially safe. But the murder rate has nearly doubled in the past five years. Barring war zones, this makes Honduras by most reckonings the most violent country in the world.
The cocaine trade, which over the past two decades was squeezed first out of the Caribbean and then from Mexico, bears much of the blame. “We are between those who consume drugs and those who produce them. Logically, we are a corridor of traffic,” says Pompeyo Bonilla Reyes, Honduras’s security minister. In 2000 Honduras and the six other small Central American countries, all told, seized less cocaine than Mexico. By last year they captured 12 times more than their northern neighbour.
Mexican traffickers use Honduras’s wild Mosquito Coast as a landing point for drug deliveries, a trend that intensified when police and troops were called to the capital following a coup in 2009. Violence has risen partly because gangs, such as Mexico’s Zetas, have diversified into more disruptive criminal businesses. Antonio Mazzitelli, of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, says the Zetas offer local gangs arms, training and the use of their feared brand, in return for a cut of the revenues from extortion or people-trafficking, and safe passage for cocaine. Gang bosses remain at arm’s length: as of last October, Honduran jails held only one Mexican.
Read more here.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Water and sanitation still problems in Honduras


"Urban water systems improved - though many communities 
in Tegucigalpa still only have running water for 
two hours a day - but in rural areas, time stood still."
Carol Frey
Honduras Weekly
Honduras Weekly
By all rights, what I saw in Honduras two weeks ago would be illegal: A couple dozen people woke up to find that they had no water to flush toilets and very little to drink. The Honduran National Congress passed a law in 2003 law reorganizing the provision of water so that all people -- urban and rural -- would have access to clean water. Yet when May’s heavy rains were suspected to have jarred loose the intake tubes from the Humuya River to The Leadership Center campus near El Salto, nobody considered filing a complaint with the authorities. 
Instead, those on campus formed a “bucket brigade” to carry cloudy water up from the river to operate the toilets. Why complain when most residents in that part of Honduras’ central highlands don’t have toilets, let alone a water supply to operate them? Promises made in 2003 have proved as empty as those toilet tanks.
For more than half a century, the National Autonomous Aqueduct and Drainage Service (SANAA) had the responsibility for providing water and sanitation for Hondurans. What SANAA didn’t have was sufficient people or money to carry out its responsibility. Diarrheal diseases, related to unclean water, food and sanitary practices, killed many more children under 5 years of age in Honduras than they did in more developed countries. After Hurricane Mitch wiped out many water improvements in 1999, the law changed how water was to be managed. Urban water systems improved -- though many communities in Tegucigalpa still only have running water for two hours a day -- but in rural areas, time stood still
Read more here.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Debaten en San Pedro Sula políticas para el desarrollo rural


Tatiana Paz
La Prensa
San Pedro Sula 
Unos 200 representantes de comunidades del istmo, territorios transfronterizos, miembros de organizaciones privadas y de organismos internacionales discuten en esta ciudad políticas para impulsar el desarrollo rural en los próximos años.
El encuentro se da en el Segundo Congreso del Desarrollo Rural Territorial en Centroamérica y República Dominicana.
La SAG (Secretaría de Agricultura y Ganadería) de Honduras que posee la presidencia pro témpore del CAC (Consejo Agropecuario Centroamericano) es el anfitrión del evento en esta ciudad.
La SAG en el acto  cuenta  con el apoyo técnico y financiero de instituciones regionales e internacionales como la Secac (Secretaría Ejecutiva del Consejo Agropecuario Centroamericano), la Aecid (Agencia de Cooperación Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo), el Iica (Instituto Interamericano de Cooperación para la Agricultura), el Catie (Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza) y la Unidad Regional para el Desarrollo Rural Sostenible de Centroamérica y República Dominicana y otras organizaciones de apoyo al desarrollo rural.
El presidente Porfirio Lobo Sosa, quien tiene la presidencia pro témpore del Sica (Sistema de Integración Centroamericana) participó ayer de la inauguración del encuentro y destacó la importancia de implementar nuevas políticas que garanticen el desarrollo en las áreas rurales del país.  “Los miembros del Sica queremos estar cada vez más cerca. Estamos permanentes en este intercambio de opiniones y experiencias. Lo que más me interesa es que se trata de empoderar a las comunidades nuestras de lo que realmente les corresponde, que es su propio desarrollo”.
Lamentó que siempre los ciudadanos de esas regiones estén atenidos a que sean los Gobiernos quienes tomen la iniciativa cuando son transitorios.
Leer mas aqui.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Monetary devaluation and survival in Honduras


"But it's not bad enough that Honduras has lost its domestic ability to feed itself and is subject to up-and-down world prices for the grains that its people require to survive, now - because of this external dependency and vulnerability - the country is even more vulnerable to whimsical threats such as currency devaluations."

Marco Cáceres
Honduras Weekly 
Honduras used to be known as the "breadbasket" of Central America. It grew enough of the basic staple crops of beans, rice, and corn to feed its own people and then have enough left over to export to the region. But back in the early-1990s, as part of economic liberalization efforts by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to push for free trade and open up markets around the world -- the so-called policy of "neo-liberalism", these institutions persuaded Honduras, governed then by President Rafael Leonardo Callejas, to lower or eliminate import duties on basic grains, thereby opening the way for cheaper imported beans, rice, and corn. In return, Honduras received loans that it needed to pay off older loans accumulated by previous governments. And consumers benefited from lower food prices (temporarily).
But the price for Honduras' small farmers and rural communities was huge. Because small farmers were not able to compete on price with the much cheaper imports, many of them went out of business, had to sell their lands, and eventually had to move with their families to the cities to find work. (This migration of campesinos to urban areas created a whole new series of social, political, and economic problems for Honduras... but that's another story.) Suddenly, it became much harder for campesinos to feed their families, their communities, and the rest of the country's population.
Read more here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Evangelismo en el lugar, la fe domina la vida Honduras


La Prensa

San Pedro Sula
La Prensa
La situación de inseguridad que impera en el país hace que a diario muchos hondureños eleven plegarias a Dios para que los libre de las adversidades.
A fin de conocer aspectos de las afinidades religiosas de los hondureños, el sondeo semanal tipo tracking diario de CID-Gallup encontró datos interesantes relacionados a esta temática.
En cuanto a la creencia en Dios, un 92% aseguró que cree en su existencia y solo un 8% dice que no.
Mientras que el 88% considera que Dios sabe que ellos existen.
Un dato interesante es que 42% de las personas entrevistadas  afirman no pertenecer a ninguna religión, pero aseguran que creen en Dios.
En cuanto a religiones, actualmente los católicos representan el 45% de la población y los evangélicos el 40; sin embargo, un 63% de los adultos del país nació en un hogar católico.
Los ciudadanos pertenecientes a la religión evangélica tienden a ser más jóvenes que los seguidores del catolicismo, dice el estudio.
Al preguntarles con qué frecuencia oran o rezan, la mayoría señaló que varios días a la semana, aunque son los que profesan la religión evangélica los que más lo hacen.
Representan un 56%. Entre los católicos es menos frecuente esta práctica, y algunos incluso señalan que solo rezan cuando están pasando situaciones que les genera tristeza o felicidad.
Leer mas aqui.

Peasants fighting for lan attract international attention


Lisa Haugaard
Christian Science Monitor
"We just want the government to enforce its own laws," we heard over and over again, as we listened to women and men froma campesino communities who were testifying about murder, torture, and violent land evictions in Bajo Aguán, Honduras.  
I was in the farm town of Tocoa, Honduras, in the open-air parish meeting hall, for an International Public Hearing on the Human Rights Situation of the Peasant Communities of Bajo Aguán, on May 28, 2012.  The Latin America Working Group [LAWG] was part of a commission of Latin American, European, and US experts hearing the testimony and issuing recommendations to encourage justice and protection for peasant communities (English declaration here; Spanish here).  Surrounding the town are miles and miles of massive African palm plantations, beautiful and a bit sinister. The roads leading from Tocoa are filled with army and police roadblocks.
Local human rights organizations have documented the murders of 48 campesinos, or peasants, associated with the campesino movements in Bajo Aguán since January 2012.  One campesino leader was disappeared, a number of campesinos have been wounded, and several people have been tortured.  There are numerous incidents of threats against campesino activists.  In addition, a journalist who had favorably covered the peasant movement, along with his partner, were assassinated.
Read more here.

Friday, June 8, 2012

S&P upgrades Honduras to B-plus from B


(Reuters) - Ratings agency Standard & Poor's on Thursday upgraded the long-term sovereign credit rating of Honduras to B-plus from B, noting the long-term focus and reform implementation allowed by the more stable political environment.
"The upgrade follows the government's ability to restore good ties with external donors and reduce domestic political tensions, thereby creating an environment for recent progress in fiscal and pension reform and gradual exchange rate flexibility," S&P noted in a statement.
Honduras expects its economy to expand by up to 4 percent in 2012, helped by higher coffee prices and textile exports to the United States.
"Monetary and fiscal rigidities and shallow domestic capital markets are credit constraints," S&P added.
The rating has a stable outlook, the rating agency said.
"The stable outlook reflects our expectation that the recently achieved political stability will be sustained through the next election cycle," the statement read.
Honduras is the third poorest country in the hemisphere, following Haiti and Nicaragua. It currently faces insufficient growth and a fiscal deficit covered partly by international aid and internal debt, which has worsened the country's finances.
The B-plus rating puts it one notch above Moody's Investors Service, which has a stable outlook on the credit. Fitch Ratings does not rate the credit.
Honduras is now tied with Mexico for a spot as the world's No. 3 arabica coffee producer after Brazil and Colombia, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Read the Standard and Poor review of Honduras' political and economic situation here.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Honduras' lost city: Big hype, bad archaeology



Anthropology prof 
University of California Berkley
Being an archaeologist is a funny thing, because archaeology is one of those sciences that catches the popular imagination: pyramids! tombs! mummies! treasure!
But archaeology as a science is not about discoveries. It is about knowledge: understanding the human past, the lives of men and women, the ways that societies developed, how people coped with the challenges of difficult environments and changing climates.
Sometimes, archaeology involves the identification of previously unreported sites. Most often, these sites were unknown to archaeologists because of remoteness of the location from the centers of academic investigation (although, I have to note, local people are rarely unaware of the buildings and trash that are traces of previous societies). In some cases, all surface traces of previous sites have been obscured, by centuries of natural deposition of sand or soil, or by dramatic events like volcanic eruptions.
Even where archaeological research has been practiced successfully, such buried sites may wait for detection by the use of new methods. Such sites can be extremely important in our understanding of human society and history. In the 1970s and 1980s, I worked as an archaeologist surveying an 800 square mile valley near San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Sites were reported in this valley by scholars writing in the 1890s, and when we started our survey, there were about 100 registered sites in the valley. By the time we ended, the number was over 500 — and the last of those sites to be identified was not found until bulldozers cut through its buried remains in 1993. Our excavations at the site, supported by the National Science Foundation, the Wenner Gren Foundation, and the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, documented occupation of the valley from at least 1600 BC, provided early evidence of the use of chocolate (500 years earlier than thought at the time), and precisely dated the engagement of Honduras with sites as distant as Mexico’s Pacific and Gulf Coasts.
So I personally am never surprised when new sites are found in an area where we have no previous information. Such reports increasingly come from the application of technologies originally developed for other purposes that help us overcome the challenges of survey in remote areas, and especially, in challenging environments, like those with heavy vegetation cover.
But all too often, this good science is then hyped as if it was totally unprecedented, surprising, supposedly shattering all our previous ideas. So good science becomes bad archaeology.
Unfortunately for me and my colleagues in Honduran archaeology, the latest such incident is in our bailiwick. In mid-May, Spanish-language news sources in Honduras reported an announcement by the president of the country that LiDAR images had possibly revealed a “lost city”, Ciudad Blanca. One government official went so far as to say it “might be the biggest archaeological discovery in the world of the twenty-first century”.
Hurray! except that isn’t good archaeology —  it’s hype.
Read more here.

Campesinos no recibirán préstamos por morosos


El Heraldo

Verónica Castro 
El Heraldo
TEGUCIGALPA
Quien no pague no tendrá fondos. Miles de pequeños productores que están en mora con la banca pública y privada tendrán que saldar sus deudas para acceder a nuevos préstamos.
Autoridades de agricultura y de la banca estatal se reunieron ayer con dirigentes campesinos para definir estrategias del financiamiento, las que tendrán que estar listas esta semana. Sin embargo, el gobierno es claro y advirtió que esta vez no habrá perdón de deudas, ya que este rubro ha reportado buenas cosechas.
“Se buscará un mecanismo para rehabilitar la posibilidad de que estas personas accedan a crédito, pero honrando sus compromisos, además se establecerán mecanismos que permitan atender lo inmediato. Eso es lo que el país necesita”, categorizó Vilma Morales, presidenta de la Comisión Nacional de Bancos y Seguros (CNBS), al finalizar la reunión.
La funcionaria dijo que ya es hora de poner un alto a la cultura del no pago. Solo en el Banco Nacional de Desarrollo Agrícola (Banadesa) están disponibles 400 millones de lempiras, mientras que en el Banco Hondureño para la Producción y la Vivienda (Banhprovi) hay otros 90 millones de lempiras, según su titular Juan Carlos álvarez.
Johnny Handal, gerente de Banadesa, dijo que esta institución está lista para responder a la menor brevedad con tasas de interés de 9% para granos básicos, uno 10% si es para maquinaria y secado de granos y 12% para infraestructura.
Actualmente “estamos atendiendo a los productores, tal como nos instruyó el presidente de la República, y este año andamos en el orden de 4,000 créditos otorgados”, afirmó y agregó que a los campesinos que están en mora difícilmente se les puede ayudar.
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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Honduras to nonprofits: Use head along with heart and hands


Trevor Williams
Global Atlanta

Ana Padgett tells of an organization that dug three wells in a village, only to frustrate the local women whose lives it was supposed to improve.
The hour they spent going to the river every morning was a key social outlet, a time to talk about life and family without intrusion by their husbands. However well-intentioned, the charity took that away.
"They were trying to do something that was good but they didn't take into consideration the reality of the community, and that happens a lot," said Ms. Padgett, vice consul for outreach to nongovernmental organizations at the Honduran consulate general in Atlanta.
Honduras is a poor Central American country that largely depends on the activities of outside non-profits and relief agencies. It has become a go-to destination for Christian mission teams looking to make a big impact in a foreign country that's practically in their backyard - just two hours by plane from Atlanta.
But as with many needy countries, the proliferation of aid groups has caused confusion, with some groups duplicating efforts and others ignoring the nation's regulations and long-term priorities, said Emelisa Callejas, the Honduras consul general.
Atlanta has become the epicenter for her country's efforts to change that.
Last year Ms. Callejas hosted the first international nonprofit conference in Atlanta, an annual event that was repeated this March.
Ms. Padgett spoke at the first event. At this year's, she had just arrived in her official post at the consulate, the only one among Honduras' 10 U.S. diplomatic offices with a staffer coordinating outreach to nonprofit groups.
An economist with a master's in business administration and a history of working on social programs, Ms. Padgett is tasked with helping match groups with needs in the country or directing them toward the right government officials to maximize resources.
By linking up, they'll be more in tune with the government's 30-year national plan for development, which was enacted in 2010 with input from village and city leaders across the country, Ms. Padgett told GlobalAtlanta.
Read more here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Honduras Weekly invite to Honduras' presidential wannabes


Honduras Weekly is an interesting and eclectic online publication. With the political cycle in full swing - party runoffs in November, the election next spring - it has called on candidates to share their plans for the country.
"Honduras Weekly invites all prospective candidates from all of the country's political parties to begin sharing with us their platforms in advance of their respective party's primary elections in November. 
"In order for the people of Honduras to be able to make intelligent and informed decisions for whom they will vote, it is essential for anyone seeking the highest political office in the land to clearly and concisely lay out his or her vision for leading the country. This vision should be broad and philosophical, but also specific and pragmatic. It has to be much more than just about criticizing and denigrating those running against you. It has to be about what unique ideas and proposals you bring to the table, and what tactics and strategies you intend to use to implement them."
Read more here.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Los cafetaleros se blindan con diversificación

La Prensa

Fany Alvarenga
La Prensa
San Pedro Sula

Una buena parte del gremio cafetalero del país ya está “blindado” ante la posibilidad que la mala racha en los precios del café en el mercado internacional se mantenga.
Los representantes de la instituciones que rectoran el gremio cafetalero, así como los productores de las fincas, coinciden en que el precio actual del grano en el mercado internacional, que llegó hoy a los 204 dólares, no debe causar pánico, ya que son niveles adecuados y todavía les está dejando buenas ganancias por sus cultivos. 
José Ángel Saavedra productor de la Finca Babilonia, en Cortés, sostuvo que “el punto de equilibrio de producir café es cien dólares para los más eficientes y 120 para los menos eficientes, de manera que las utilidades todavía son buenas para nosotros”, al mismo tiempo que añade que “no hay por qué escandalizarse ni ponerse triste, porque aunque no está en boom como lo que se logró el año pasado, esos precios son rentables”, reitera.
En 2001 el precio del quintal de café cayó por debajo de los 50 dólares, el más bajo registrado en los últimos 50 años. En ese tiempo, la caficultura nacional se vio afectada debido a la falta de programas alternativos para evitar los efectos que llevaron a la quiebra a cientos de productores.
 Hoy el panorama es distinto a razón de que esa experiencia llevó a realizar una serie de cambios e implementar varios programas que tienen preparada a una buena parte de los caficultores en las seis zonas cafetaleras del país.
“La diversificación es una realidad, cuando no sea rentable el café, en mi caso, tendré un ingreso adicional por la venta de maderables e izotes”, apuntó Saavedra.
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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Chagas Disease called 'new AIDS of the Americas'


London Daily Mail

A little-known life-threatening illness caused by blood sucking insects has been labelled the ‘new AIDS of the Americas’ by experts. 
The parasitic illness called Chagas Disease has similarities to the early spread of HIV, according to a new study. 
Similar to AIDS, Chagas is difficult to detect and it can take years for symptoms to emerge, according to experts writing in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.
An estimated 10 million people worldwide are infected with most sufferers in Bolivia, Mexico, Columbia and Central America, as well as approximately 30,000 people in the U.S., reported the New York Times.
The disease - once largely contained to Latin America - has spread into the U.S due to increases in travel and immigration. 

Read the original Neglected Tropical Disease Journal editorial here.

Named after the Brazilian doctor who discovered it in 1909, Chagas disease is a potentially deadly illness spread by blood-sucking insects including Triatomids most commonly known as 'kissing bugs.'
Like AIDS, the illness is difficult to detect and has a long remission period. 
It spreads easily through blood transfusions and from mother to child. 
Approximately a quarter of victims who contract the disease develop enlarged heart or intestines that can burst causing sudden death.
An estimated 10 million people worldwide are infected, including 30,000 people in the U.S.
Chagas is considered one of the Neglected Parasitic Infections, a group of five parasitic diseases that have been targeted by CDC for public health action.
It is estimated that in 2008 Chagas disease killed more than 10,000 people.
Due to the severity of the illness, the amount of people infected and the ability of prevention, Chagas is considered one of the Neglected Parasitic Infections, a group of five parasitic diseases that have been targeted by CDC for public health action.
Chagas commonly affects people in poverty-stricken areas and most U.S. cases are found in immigrants. 
If caught early enough, the disease can be prevented with an intense 3-month drug treatment. 
However, because of the lengthy incubation period and costly medication, Chagas is often left untreated.
Also known as the American trypanosomiasis, the disease spreads easily either through blood transfusions or, less commonly, from mother to child. 
All blood banks in the U.S. and Latin America screen for traces of the disease. 
Most blood banks in the U.S began screening for it in 2007.
Chagas is usually transmitted from the bite of blood-sucking insect species called Triatome bugs which release a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi into the victim's bloodstream. 
The species includes Triatomids - black wingless beetles about 20mm in length commonly known as 'kissing bugs'. Their closest relative is the Tsetse fly, found in Africa, which spread Sleeping Sickness (where the victim's brain swells).
Chagas disease comes in two phases - acute and severe.
The acute phase may have no symptoms but can present a fever, general feeling of being unwell and swelling in one eye.
Darwin may have contracted Chagas
After the acute phase the disease goes into remission and it can take years before symptoms, such as constipation, abdomen pain and digestive problems, emerge again in the severe stage.
The parasite can eventually make its way to the heart, where it can live and multiply.
About a quarter of the people who contract Chagas, develop enlarged heart or intestines that can burst causing sudden death. 
Although the drugs available are not as expensive as those for AIDS, there are shortages of the medication in poorer countries and little money is being spent on discovering new treatments. 
Chagas disease is named after Carlos Ribeiro Justiniano Chagas, a Brazilian doctor who first discovered the disease in 1909.
Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine said last year that they believed Charles Darwin suffered from three different illnesses, including a Chagas infection.
The experts believe he contracted the disease during a five-year trip around the globe on the HMS Beagle in his 20s – and attributed it to his death of heart failure 47 years later. 
The father of modern life scientists wrote in his journal that he had been bitten by a 'wingless black bug' during the expedition, where he visited South America. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Efectos del cambio climático son el mayor desafío de empresas aseguradoras


Centinela Económico
Centinela Económico
Tegucigalpa
Los efectos del cambio climático son el mayor desafío que enfrentan las aseguradoras de Centroamérica y el Caribe, dijo hoy el presidente de la Cámara Hondureña de Aseguradores (Cahda), Pedro Barquero.
“Las consecuencias del cambio climático tienen un gran impacto en la industria de seguros a nivel mundial, porque cada vez que hay un evento catastrófico afecta a las aseguradoras y reaseguradoras del mundo”, indicó a Acan-Efe Barquero, al finalizar el XXIV congreso regional de estas empresas.
Agregó que otros de los retos de las aseguradoras son aumentar la venta de seguros y definir estrategias para atender a la población “que no estamos atendiendo”.
Leer mas aqui.