Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Masked artist protests violence in Honduras

AP Photo/Fernando Antonio 

Alberto Arce
The Associated Press
In the capital of one of the world's most dangerous countries, a hooded, masked man jumped out of a car on an assault mission.
His target: a crumbling wall on a garbage-strewn corner. With his accomplice acting as lookout, the man plastered a giant black-and-white reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" — wielding a pink pistol. In minutes he was gone.
The city's self-proclaimed Urban Maeztro had struck again with another artistic "intervention" designed to make Hondurans think about the violence that has traumatized Tegucigalpa.
"The level of how common guns have become in this country has passed what is rationally admissible," said the 26-year-old graphic artist, who left his day job at an advertising agency to become the masked crusader. "It doesn't seem to surprise anyone, but for me it continues to be madness."
AP Photo/Fernando Antonio 
The artist uses the street name Urban Maeztro, a stylized translation of "Urban Master," to shield his true identity because the work is both dangerous and illegal.
The Honduran lacks the fame of the elusive British graffiti artist known only as Banksy, who has gained notoriety in Europe in recent years. Urban Maeztro said only his closest friends know that he launches the artistic assaults, dressed in a hoodie, his face covered with a kerchief depicting a skull.
The artist arrests passing viewers by defacing posters of artistic masterpieces, such as the Mona Lisa, with guns, grenades and other iconic tools of violence. He also employs more traditional graffiti, painting sections of metal light poles to look like bullets.
"There is a parallel between the brutal violation of a work so beautiful by adding a firearm and the violence and guns in Tegucigalpa, which could also be a beautiful city without them," he said.
His canvas is the streets of the Central American city of 1.2 million, which he describes as "captive, fearful and closed by a mixture of violence, poverty and an absence of public services." About 1,149 people were murdered in the Honduran capital last year, more than 87 for every 100,000. That's 10 times the rate considered an epidemic of violence by the World Health Organization — a number that has doubled in the last five years.
As a result, Tegucigalpa's streets are typically empty, as are public squares and other traditional meeting spots. Most people congregate in giant, indoor American-style shopping malls guarded by men with automatic rifles.
During a recent graffiti assault, even passing motorists swerved at the sight of the hooded artist in a Honduras tourist T-shirt and paint-speckled cargo pants drawing on the city's walls.
A security guard watched as he plastered Grant Wood's "American Gothic" on a wall In front of the National University, completely absorbed.
"Who pays you to do that?" the guard asked.
"No one," the artist answered.
"Then why do it?"
"To help you think."
Read more, and see more images, here.

Presidente de Honduras anuncia plan para conflicto por tierra en el Aguán

Agence France Presse
El presidente hondureño Porfirio Lobo anunció este lunes "un plan integral" para solucionar el conflicto por la tierra entre campesinos y terratenientes del Aguán, en el noreste del país, que ha dejado 65 muertos, según fuentes de derechos humanos.
El Consejo Nacional de Defensa y Seguridad (CNDS) "nos va a presentar (el martes) algunas medidas que hay que tomar, muchas de ellas es posible que tendrán que ir (para ser aprobadas) al Congreso Nacional", expresó el mandatario en rueda de prensa.
Lobo se reunió este lunes con el CNDS, integrado por los ministros de Defensa, Seguridad, el fiscal general y el presidente del Poder Judicial, en medio de especulaciones de la prensa local sobre un inminente "estado de sitio" o de "excepción" en el Aguán.
Sin embargo, el gobernante descartó esa posibilidad y dijo que lo que se busca es un "plan integral" para enfrentar el conflicto.
Hace tres años comenzaron en esa zona, 600 km al noreste de la capital, los enfrentamientos entre las guardias privadas de latifundistas que cultivan palma africana y campesinos organizados en diferentes grupos.
Los campesinos ocupan por la fuerza parte de las tierras y reclaman que el Esstado se la entregue para seguir con los cultivos de palma, más rentable que los granos básicos.
Los enfrentamientos ya dejan 65 muertos, incluyendo 15 guardias y empleados de los latifundistas, según el estatal comisionado de derechos humanos.
La última víctima es el campesino Israel García, de 37 años, quien fue atacado el pasado viernes por guardias de un terrateniente, según dijo a la AFP Juan Orellana, dirigente del Movimiento de Recuperación del Aguán (MACRA).
Lobo dijo que el conflicto del Aguán debe ser resuelto en una forma "integral" porque tiene "diferentes ingredientes y elementos que se están analizando para buscar una alternativa que nos permita poner paz en la zona".
"Llama la atención que (...) las pérdidas de vidas humanas han sido únicamente en el Aguán, quiere decir que allí hay más que un conflicto de tierras, afirmó Lobo.
"Que hay armas, hay armas" en el Aguán, sentenció el mandatario, quien anteriormente había asegurado que la crisis en esa zona agrícola es un problema "de seguridad nacional".
Lobo explicó que el "plan integral" que definirá el Consejo de Seguridad es para todo el problema de violencia que afronta Honduras que, según Naciones Unidas, se ubicó en el primer lugar en homicidios del mundo, con 82 por cada 100.000 habitantes en el 2010.

Monday, July 30, 2012

USAID to fund Cuso International diaspora volunteer project

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced that Cuso International will be awarded funding to support the recruitment of American professionals from diaspora communities to volunteer overseas to combat poverty.
Speaking at the meeting of the Global Diaspora Forum in Washington DC, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the new “Diasporas for Development” partnership with Cuso International and Accenture USA, as part of a broader initiative to engage American diaspora to combat poverty overseas.
The Diasporas for Development project, costing just over $1 million, will be co-funded by Accenture U.S.A. and USAID. Skilled professionals are to be recruited over the next three years from American diaspora communities.
Cuso International recruits volunteers from the US as well as Canada, and offers volunteering opportunities to diaspora communities in North America. The organization wants to help people offer their skills in their countries of birth or heritage.
USAID and Accenture recognize this approach as an important contribution to development, and are supporting Cuso’s diaspora work.
“We are proud to partner with Accenture and Cuso International to bring skilled diaspora volunteers back to their countries of origin in an effort to catalyze economic development and social change,” stated Dr. Maura O’Neill, Chief Innovation Counselor and Director of the Office of Innovation and Development Alliances at USAID. “Through this partnership, we hope to start addressing the pervasive ‘brain drain’ affecting many developing countries by encouraging diaspora volunteerism to help build the capacity of local organizations on the ground.”
Diaspora volunteering has been a key part of Cuso International’s program in Canada for a number of years. “We believe it’s a cornerstone of an innovative, impactful and sustainable 21st century volunteering movement," says Derek Evans, Executive Director of Cuso International. "And we know it is effective – diaspora volunteers bring not just professional skills, but also a deep cultural understanding and commitment to their development work.”
Read more here.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

On the ground: why development organizations matter

CDH's new office

Erin Bickell
The CDH (in English the Centre for Human Development), has been in existence since 1985. Its mandate has changed throughout the years but they have their hands in so many different development issues in Honduras that it really is quite the perfect organization for me to get a real taste of of community development. They focus on woman’s rights, youth rights, sustainable resources and farming, risk management, equality and education.
Here is their mission statement: (or a very close English translation):
“The HRC is an organization of social movement that accompanies and promotes economic empowerment processes, political and cultural development of local and national stakeholders, particularly youth and women, promoting their own agenda and organization to achieve human development alternative, comprehensive and sustainable.”
There are mucho statistics regarding Honduras and it is repeatedly referred to as one of the most dangerous places in the world – if you look at the statistics it is indeed a scary place.  The media in North America has a huge hand to play on the negative and focus of danger in the country.  It is important to remember though that for every story that is read about a shooting, or a narcotics bust or a gang issue there are more people that are living their lives just like me and you live at home, trying to work to support their families, wondering what the future holds and what how they can make things better – except for the HUGE disparity between living conditions, monetary gain and economic freedom.  
I don’t want to throw out a bunch of statistics, as they are easily found online if anyone is interested.  But I will give one:  In Honduras over 59% of the population remain below the poverty line and 36.2% in extreme poverty, the definitions for these differ according to different organizations such as the World Bank or the UNDP but typically extreme poverty is under $1.25 per day and poverty is about$2.00 per day.  A lot of us hear these statistics quite often but lets put it into some context.
Making $2.00 per day is around $62.00 per month.  PER MONTH.  We do of course have to take into consideration the difference in prices in Honduras.  Some more context: $62.00 equals approximately 1,182 Lempiras (Honduran currency). Living on my own, per week I spend about 500 Lempiras on food (mainly fruits and vegetables, tortillas and bottled water), rent is 7000 Lempiras (however this is HIGH as I live in a secure building in town).  Consider a family of four (which is on the smaller size in Honduras) and if there is one person working there is just no chance to stay afloat, and this is not taking into consideration the expense of education, electricity, clothing, transportation and health care.  The rural population has other issues to think about as a lot of this population doesn’t have access to potable water, electricity or health care.  On drives through out the country there are makeshift stalls with people selling honey or fruit in attempt to create an income.
The CDH works at a community level with the local population to increase their own capacity working with local resources and solutions.  The entire staff at the organization (I believe in the two offices there is a total of 28 employees) is Honduran, except for a French volunteer in Tegucigalpa and myself in Choluteca.
Read more here.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Más de 900 niños se forman bajo modelo agroempresarial

'Mientras en muchas escuelas la clase de Agropecuaria ha desaparecido, en este centro escolar se forjan niños emprendedores, capaces de sostener sus estudios y vencer la inseguridad alimentaria.'
Patricia Cálix
El Heraldo
Hay una escuela capitalina cuyo reto va más allá de apostarle a la excelencia académica y cumplir con los 200 días de clase, tal como lo exigen las leyes educativas del país.
El centro educativo Cerro Grande, ubicado en la zona II en la colonia que lleva el mismo nombre, le apuesta a dejar de ser común para convertirse en un Centro Básico de Ensayo Tecnológico Empresarial.
En sus aulas se alimentan con el pan del saber 920 alumnos, los que se forman como verdaderos empresarios de éxito, capaces y creativos.
Sin descuidar sus libros y tareas diarias, los niños apartan tiempo para chapear, cuidar y regar los cultivos, preparar jaleas y hasta a fabricar con madera verdaderas obras de arte.
Y es que la escuela desde hace dos años ha implementado el proyecto piloto Productivo Agroempresarial Escolar.
“De esta manera nos nace la idea de formar niños emprendedores, que sean capaces de poder sostener sus estudios el día de mañana, de poder ayudar en su hogar y vencer los problemas de seguridad alimentaria”, declaró Irma Esperanza López, directora del centro educativo.
Formación de empresas
El proyecto piloto ha dado paso a la formación de cinco empresas, cada una de ellas con un fin determinado y que de inicio operan con un capital semilla de 42 mil lempiras.
Leer mas aqui.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ahora campesinos se toman fincas de café

La Tribuna
Las invasiones de tierras se han extendido en todo el país, iniciando en el Bajo Aguán y ahora se ha pronunciado en el sector atlántico.
En las últimas horas se ha conocido que campesinos miembros del Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (COPIN), se han apoderado de unas 150 fincas cultivadas de café, en el sector de Nueva Esperanza, en el departamento de Intibucá.
Con la invasión de estas fincas de café se suman a las ocupaciones que se realizan en la zona del Bajo Aguán y que confirman la advertencia del nuevo movimiento Recuperación de Tierras a nivel nacional.
El asesor legal del Instituto Nacional Agrario (INA), Marco Ramiro Lobo, manifestó que se hacen muchos esfuerzos por solventar la crisis del Bajo Aguán, “el acuerdo que se realizó con los empresarios Miguel Facussé y René Morales, en relación a la adquisición de 4,700 hectáreas es un elemento muy importante”.
“Como INA estamos sumamente preocupados por lo que ocurre en este momento, puesto que se siente que se quiere reavivar ese conflicto en el Aguán, poniendo en riesgo los acuerdos logrados, que para nosotros es un elemento sumamente importante y provechoso para los campesinos”, expresó.
“Sentimos que se puede poner en riesgo los acuerdos firmados con el MUCA y el MARCA, puesto que la situación actual de recuperaciones o tomas de fincas nos tiene preocupados, porque esa no es la vía correcta, los campesinos deben trabajar el área que se les fue asignada”, señaló.
Leer mas aqui.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

“Quedamos estancados, San Pedro Sula no es lo que era”

La Prensa
San Pedro Sula
Las dificultades de vialidad, la falta de inversión, el desempleo, la delincuencia, la falta de grandes obras de infraestructura, los contratiempos financieros de la Municipalidad y los problemas ambientales son solo algunos de los factores que han detenido el desarrollo en San Pedro Sula.
La ciudad continúa siendo la referencia del Valle de Sula, la zona de mayor actividad económica del país, y tiene el potencial para destacarse no solo en el ámbito nacional, sino regional, pero desde hace años diversas causas han hecho que el paso de su crecimiento sea cada vez más lento y en algunas áreas, como la inversión en obras públicas, se haya detenido por completo.
Luis García Bustamante, exalcalde sampedrano, habló sobre la realidad de la urbe. “Creo que San Pedro Sula, como todo el pueblo lo ve, se ha estancado en su desarrollo en los últimos años.
No hay proyectos de infraestructura que le den el empuje que la ciudad necesita. Veo con preocupación que en los últimos años aquí se han dedicado a hacer un esfuerzo enorme en barrer calles y pintar bordos y no tenemos proyectos orientados a minimizar el congestionamiento vial, que es un problema grande”.
Bustamante consideró que para retomar el camino del desarrollo es fundamental invertir debidamente los fondos recaudados por impuestos.
“La Alcaldía no debe dedicarse a pagar una planilla sin cumplir el requisito de ley que exige que por lo menos el 50% de sus ingresos sean invertidos en obras. Es preocupante que eso esté sucediendo porque San Pedro Sula se caracterizó siempre por ser la ciudad modelo no solo de Honduras, sino de Centroamérica”.
Leer mas aqui.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sumatra, Nicaragua, Peru and… Honduras? It’s time.

Saltspring Coffee
British Columba, Canada

For the last three years we’ve worked hard to develop our Fair to Farmer (F2F) direct trade program in countries, like Indonesia, Nicaragua and Peru. And, while we’re still 100% committed to our partner co-ops in these countries and thrilled with the quality of coffee they’re producing, we like to keep an eye on promising coffee markets.
Travelling to up-and-coming coffee markets gives us the chance to discover beautiful, untapped seasonal coffee first hand. It also lets us develop personal relationships with coffee farmers and co-ops - one of the key pieces of our direct trade model.
Generally speaking, in recent years Honduran farms have had a reputation within the coffee industry for producing average beans. Though, lately things have shifted and the coffee industry is taking note.
Honduran co-op managers and coffee farmers have come to see - maybe because of the quality of coffee coming out of nearby Nicaragua - that if they want to secure a premium price for their green coffee beans they've got to produce a high quality product. So, with that said, we packed our bags and readied ourselves for our first sourcing trip to Honduras.
Hitting the ground in Honduras.
For this trip, we focused our attention on the Copan region in Western Honduras. Once we landed our first move was to track down Peter Rodriguez of Honduran Quality Coffee. Peter is the person to talk to in the Copan region when it comes to sourcing beautiful, seasonal coffee. With only three days to tour the region, Peter said that we had to visit co-op Capucas and co-op COCAFELOL, both near Beneficio Santa Rosa. And, as with most trips, Peter proved that it’s incredibly helpful to know a local.
Co-op visit 1: Capucas
Capucas is about a one hour’s drive from Beneficio Santa Rosa in the Las Capucas, Copan region. Jose Omar, the co-op’s General Manager, kindly met me at the door and after a quick tour of the co-op's operations, he invited me to see Finca Popitos. Finca Popitos is, based on other farms I've seen, a shinning example of a quality coffee farm.
We also visited coffee farmer Jose Isidro Lara. Jose, Peter told me, is thought of as the "master of processing" in the region. Jose Isidro Lara takes the processing of his coffee so seriously that he himself is the only individual allowed on his drying patio (a rarity in the industry given the amount of work associated with drying coffee). It’s clear to me, from Jose’s attention to detail that he's committed to producing premium coffee.
Co-op visit 2: COCAFELOL
At COCAFELOL we had the great pleasure of meeting General Manager and coffee farmer Roberto Salazar, who gave us a personal tour of the co-op. Once again, I was blown away by its cleanliness and the attention to detail at the co-op’s washing station and in its drying areas. What impressed me most though is Roberto’s commitment to coffee education – and not just for direct trade buyers like us and visitors to the cooperative – but for his farmers.
Every season Roberto roasts, brews and tastes the co-op's coffee with the farmers. For me, this is incredibly telling. The vast majority of coffee farmers don’t taste or cup the coffee they produce. They don’t get the chance to reflect upon the quality of coffee they've grown in a given season.
Giving the farming community the opportunity to taste their coffee means that they are much more likely to become invested in the quality of coffee they produce.
It’s true; the buzz about Honduran coffee in the Copan region is well deserved. Not only did I cup coffee that scored in the mid-80s and above at Capucas and COCAFELOL, the management and day-to-day operations at each co-op impressed me. Given everything we’ve seen on this trip, and if weather conditions remain consistent in the region, we hope to share a Honduran coffee or two as part of our seasonal lineup this spring.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

All the news that's negative and scary

Jody Paterson
A Closer Look
As part of my communications work for the Comision de Accion Social Menonita, I decided I'd do an English-language Facebook page for CASM. I figured I could highlight some of the work of the organization as well as share stories about Honduras that offered an alternative to the endless murder-and-mayhem headlines that come out of this country.
Alas, it is unbelievably hard to find stories about Honduras that are even neutral, let alone positive. I've never seen a country in more dire need of good PR than this place. I mean, there are definitely problems here, but the single story line coming out of Honduras really does a disservice to this poor country.
As if it wasn't bad enough to be branded the "murder capital of the world" due to all the violence in the drug trade here, it seems that barely a month can go by without some other totally weird tragedy putting Honduras into the world's headlines.
Since we arrived in January, there has been a massive prison fire that burned up 365 inmates, a massive fire that wiped out a huge public market in Tegucigalpa, at least two really ugly prison riots, and that nasty business with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in which four apparently innocent people were gunned down. And this past week brings news that 21 people in Siguatepeque have died from drinking tainted alcohol.
Horrible things do happen more often in poor countries, of course. But the problem for Honduras is that the only stories that make it into the media are the horrible ones. It gives such a distorted view of the country, not to mention scares the hell out of my family. It even scares away aid agencies - like the Peace Corps, which cited security concerns in its decision to withdraw more than 150 volunteers from Honduras a few weeks before we arrived.
And what must it do to the people of Honduras? As this study notes, 25 per cent of Hondurans surveyed about strategies that might bring about positive change in governance .in their country believed that nothing could change the situation. Surely that's the gravest impact of all of relentlessly negative news: People lose hope that anything will ever improve.
Read more here.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Convocan a presentar perfiles de agronegocios

La Prensa

La Prensa
San Pedro Sula
Son la sexta convocatoria para presentar perfiles de negocios, los pequeños productores agrícolas, en especial los que se encuentran afiliados a una asociación, tienen la oportunidad de obtener financiamiento para el desarrollo de sus proyectos.
Con el apoyo de ComRural (Competitividad Rural),  programa de la SAG (Secretaría de Agricultura y Ganadería) para mejorar la productividad y competitividad  del sector agrícola, los productores pueden sacar adelante sus ideas de negocios mediante la presentación de perfiles, que de ser aceptados, posibilita que obtengan financiamiento y asistencia técnica para sus proyectos.
Héctor Tablas, coordinador de ComRural, explica que lo anterior se logra “a través de alianzas estratégicas con socios comerciales, financieros  y técnicos en el marco de la cadena de valor en toda la cadena horizontal hasta llegar al anaquel del  consumidor”.
Según la metodología actual, el productor presenta su solicitud en la que expone su idea,  el tipo de inversión que requiere y acredita el estatus legal de la organización a la que pertenece,  en vista de que el programa no atiende a solicitudes hechas a título individual. Los perfiles pueden presentarse en las oficinas regionales del programa ubucadas en Santa Rosa de Copán y La Esperanza, Intibucá.
Una vez aprobado,  se pide que de una lista de aproximadamente 39 empresas de asistencia técnica, se formule al productor un plan de negocios. Por lo menos 30% del proyecto debe provenir de un financiamiento privado, hasta un 60% de fondos públicos no reembolsables y un 10% lo aportan los mismos productores. “De aceptarse el perfil, el solicitante aplica para inversiones fijas, capital de trabajo, sistemas de riego, infraestructura para mejorar la calidad de los productos y lo que requiera la organización de productores”, refiere Tablas.
El gremio del café destaca entre los que han sido beneficiados por el programa, constituyendo el 57% de las solicitudes aceptadas hasta ahora.
Roberto Salazar, representante de Cocafelol (Cooperativa Cafetalera Ecológica La Labor Ocotepeque Limitada), comenta que presentaron su perfil de negocio hace un año y se refería al mejoramiento de la infraestructura y la parte ambiental, procesamiento de aguas negras, eliminación de mucílago, capital de trabajo para compra de insumos, maquinaria como una presecadora y silos para mejorar el secado entre otros.
Al comentar sobre los beneficios que la cooperativa ha obtenido del programa, Salazar comenta que  “obtuvimos fondos por 3.5 millones de lempiras que estamos ejecutando. Ya tenemos un comedor, una galera, vamos produciendo etanol, biogás y estamos esperando la maquinaria. La ejecución del proyecto avanza en un 60%.”
Cocafelol agrupa a unos 250 socios, en su mayoría pequeños productores de café, los cuales producen entre todos unos 38 mil quintales de café. Gracias al proyecto, Salazar asegura que sus ingresos han crecido en un 20%.
La sexta convocatoria se dirige a productores de  Comayagua, La Paz, Intibucá, Lempira, Santa Bárbara, Copán y Ocotepeque,  principalmente a productores de hortalizas, frutas, miel, productos acuícolas, granos básicos, carne y productos culturales como artesanías.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sector financiero aumenta la tasa de interés activa

El Heraldo
La banca comercial hondureña lo advirtió y el gobierno desestimó el anuncio, pero ahora los usuarios del sistema financiero están informados de que pagarán más por los préstamos que mantengan u obtengan en el sistema financiero nacional.
El Banco Central de Honduras (BCH) aumentó en 100 puntos básicos la Tasa de Política Monetaria (TPM), pasando de 6% a 7% a partir del 14 de mayo anterior.
De inmediato, la respuesta de la Asociación Hondureña de Instituciones Bancarias (Ahiba) fue la siguiente: “las medidas del directorio del BCH resultarán en incrementos a la tasas de interés, aumentando el costo del dinero y reduciendo el circulante, afectando con ello la disponibilidad del crédito para el sector privado”.
La presidenta del Banco Central, María Elena Mondragón, dijo que el aumento de la TPM fomentaría el ahorro pero no encarecería el costo de los préstamos. Sin embargo, la realidad para los usuarios del sistema financiero es otra.
Honduras es uno de los países con la tasa activa -préstamos- más alta de Centroamérica. El riesgo país, la inflación y el margen de intermediación son factores que encarecen el costo del dinero. A lo anterior hay que agregar el aumento de la TPM, tal como lo ha señalado la Ahiba.
Hasta mayo pasado, la tasa de interés sobre préstamos en el sistema bancario privado era de 18.04%, en promedio, de acuerdo con publicaciones del Banco Central.
La Ahiba, en su portal electrónico, informa que la tasa activa es de 14.7% para créditos en moneda nacional y 7.2% para préstamos en moneda extranjera. 
Sin embargo, EL HERALDO hizo consultas vía telefónica en cuatro bancos privados de la capital, destacando que las tasas de interés citadas anteriormente se aplican únicamente a empresas clase A, mientras que para banca de persona oscilan entre 20% y 30%.

'Mujeres son las que más buscan trabajo'

La Prensa
San Pedro Sula
Se necesita más énfasis en las carreras técnicas para la oferta y demanda de trabajo, opina José Quan, organizador de la Feria del Empleo y pionero en la realización de este evento en Honduras.
Hoy comienza la feria en Expocentro, en la que participarán más de 20 empresas y grupos corporativos que les ofrecen trabajo a cientos de sampedranos. 
Quan habló con LA PRENSA sobre el desempleo en el país. Para el experto, la formación académica y la práctica son fundamentales para conseguir un buen trabajo.
-¿Qué significa la Feria del Empleo para un desempleado?
Significa una oportunidad única que no existe por otros medios para llegar a las empresas. La Feria permite interactuar con el empleador. La comunicación por otros medios sería de una sola vía y aquí es una comunicación de dos vías. El gran beneficio no es solo que llegue y entregue el currículo. Aquí puede interactuar, consultar sobre la posibilidad de empleo, entre otros beneficios.
-¿Qué piensa sobre los migrantes que prefieren morir en el camino a Estados Unidos en vez de quedarse en el país por el desempleo?
Como hondureño pienso que eso es un reflejo de las dificultades que tenemos en el país, de las pocas oportunidades y de la desesperación de la gente. Realmente deben estar desesperados porque si prefieren morir en el camino, deben vivir una situación difícil por la falta de oportunidades en Honduras. No tenemos empleo, pero no le estamos dando herramientas a la gente que se va para que haga su propio emprendimiento.
Si tuviéramos personas con una preparación académica más sólida, tendrían la iniciativa de buscar por sí solas nuevas oportunidades. Somos una empresa familiar, de tres personas. Empezamos desde cero.
-¿Qué grupos buscan más trabajo, hombres o mujeres? ¿De qué edades?
Son personas de 18 a 28 años. Son la población más grande. Los mayores también vienen, pero más la gente joven. Las mujeres también son las que más buscan trabajo.
-En comparación con otros países ¿cómo está Honduras en cuanto a formación académica? 
Definitivamente en formación académica se puede hacer mucho más en los colegios y universidades. Proliferan las universidades y los centros de formación superior, pero les falta dar formación más sólida. Hay que preparar a los alumnos para el mundo globalizado, para ser ciudadanos del mundo. No salimos de la cápsula que tenemos.
Leer mas aqui.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hondurans abroad sent $1.45B home in six months

Family remittances sent home by Hondurans living abroad totaled $1.45 billion in the first half of this year, 2.2 percent more than during the same period in 2011, the country's central bank reported Monday.
A preliminary report by the Banco Central de Honduras said that remittances from abroad totaled $31.3 million more between January and June 2012 than during the same period last year, when they amounted to $1.42 billion.
For all of 2011, remittances totaled about $2.86 billion, which was 13.21 percent more than the $2.53 billion sent home during 2010, the BCH said.
Around 1 million Hondurans live legally or illegally in the United States, and it is from that country that most of the remittances are sent back to Honduras, although significant amounts are also sent from Canada, Spain, Mexico and Italy, among other countries, the report said.
Family remittances are the main source of foreign currency for Honduras, above and beyond exports such as coffee, maquiladora production and shrimp.

Monday, July 16, 2012

What does Honduras need most?

It's easy to see what's wrong in Honduras. It's hard to figure out what to do about it.
I spent the last two days in a "taller," the Spanish term for workshop, looking at development priorities for Honduras.
There are an endless number of grim stats. 
Want to worry about the environment? Between 1990 and 2008, Honduras lost 33.2 per cent of its forest land. Only six countries in the world, all in Africa, had greater deforestation. 
Poverty? The World Bank says 65 per cent of the population live in poverty, and 18 per cent in extreme poverty. In the nearby centre of Santa Rosa de Copan, 56 per cent of the households report income of less than $50 a month. Even for subsistence farmers, that's poor. 
Inequality? Based on the income gap between the top 20 per cent and the poorest 20 per cent, Honduras had the third greatest inequality in the world, behind Namibia and Angola.
Honduras ranked 129th of 164 countries on Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Perception Index. The teen birth rate is 26 per cent higher than the Latin America/Caribbean average.
And on and on.
The workshop brought together some Cuso staff, volunteers and people from the partner organizations they work with in the country. You can’t do much in a day-and-a-half, but it was a chance to start gathering perspectives on where the need is greatest, Cuso’s role and future directions.
That’s ultimately complex. Cuso International has set five priority themes, and in Honduras is attempting to focus on two of them - secure livelihoods and natural resource management, and citizen participation and governance. But the partner organizations have their priorities. And they get funding from a wide range of international sources, and the funders have their own ideas on the most important areas of work. 
There are obvious tensions. If you’re a Honduran development organization working in rural communities, you’re going to feel a great pressure to look for quick ways to bring small - but important - improvements for families and communities. Help a family begin to grow a couple of crops besides corn and beans and they can get a few dollars more in annual income, which means less hunger.
But a few dollars more might not mean that the children go to school, so the basic problems of people with limited skills, lousy land (or none) and no path to a better life continue for another generation.
And programs to improve incomes in their communities don’t develop people’s knowledge of their rights and potential political and community power, or how to exercise them. The political system doesn’t work for people here; government scarcely works at all. Leaving those issues aside, many communities could do more collectively on their own.
It’s not all a question of hard choices. Some organizations are working on both things at once, offering tiny loans for women to start micro-businesses while helping poor families to get title to the little patch of land they farm. 
In the cities, as soon as the smallest construction project starts, even a house being built by three workers, a woman sets up a food stand on the street to sell them lunch. An aid worker said they surveyed the women to see what would help them. One said she bought the worst fruit at the market each night to make liquados - fruit smoothies popular here - but had to make them one at a time by hand. Customers got tired of waiting so she lost business. A $30 loan to buy a blender would give her and her family a better future.
Ultimately there will be hard choices. (And not just about programs in one country - Honduras or Guatemala? Central America or Africa (or Canadian reserves)?)
I don’t know enough about Honduras or development work or anything to have firm views. In fact, there were moments in the workshop when my Spanish skills left me unsure what the heck we were talking about.
But I’m struck by the vast numbers of little kids in Copan Ruinas, and birth rates are even higher in rural areas. About 30 per cent of the population is under 10. (In B.C., it’s 9.8 per cent.)
Maybe the driving theme should be on changing the future for those children, whether by building more capable families, improving education, boosting family incomes or teaching them about rights, political power and community organizing.

In Mexico, Honduran immigrants under fire

Resting at the migrants' shelter, which neighbours want closed/  CNN

Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
Tultitlan, Mexico - Neighbors on this tiny, sun-soaked street know each other's names. They pray together at a church with stained-glass windows that they can see from their front steps.
But for years, they say, immigrants have been pushing their community apart.
Residents here say they stopped feeling safe when strangers started lingering on street corners and leering at locals. They created neighborhood watch patrols to keep crime in check.
"It's not that we're against immigrants," Osvaldo Espinosa says. "We just want them to get rid of that house."
It's the kind of complaint heard often these days in small-town America or on blocks in big U.S. cities struggling with a flood of foreign residents.
But this house is in Mexico, where activists warn that fierce anti-immigrant sentiment in some places has become just as strong as it is north of the border.
More than 100 immigrants from Central America arrive daily in Lecheria, this working-class neighborhood outside the country's capital. Most are Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans who don't stay long; they are stowaways on cargo trains heading north to the United States.
But for more than three years, many of them have stopped on Espinosa's street for warm meals and a few nights' sleep at an immigrant shelter. It is one of dozens in Mexico run by the Roman Catholic Church.
Priests said the Casa del Migrante -- the immigrant's house -- was a safe haven for vulnerable people on an increasingly perilous journey.
Residents told public officials, reporters and police that people living near the shelter were the ones who were in danger.
Black and white banners went up outside homes. "Residents of Lecheria demand the closing of the Casa del Migrante."
Inside the shelter, words were painted on a wall beside a map of Mexico: "If the immigrant is not your brother, God is not your father."
'Almost everybody gets assaulted'
Juan Jose Arevalo Larios was barefoot when he walked through the Casa del Migrante's door last September. Dried blood was caked on his toes.
"They stole my shoes from me," the Honduran immigrant said, describing a robbery a week before that also left him without money and without his brother's phone number, which he had tucked inside his wallet.
Read more here.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Biósfera con aroma a café y nuez maya

La Prensa

"Dos microempresas lideradas por mujeres esperan 
dar a conocer al mundo sus productos cultivados"
La Prensa
La biósfera del Río Plátano no solo ofrece una belleza natural impresionante, sino también es un ejemplo de trabajo que generan dos grupos de mujeres que se han organizado en microempresas para producir café orgánico y elaborar pan de masica o nuez maya.
En la comunidad de Las Marías, en Dulce Nombre Culmí, departamento de Olancho, catorce mujeres se unieron desde el año 2005 para apoyar a sus esposos en el rubro del café y ahora procesan uno de los cafés de altura de mejor calidad: el café Río Plátano.
En la aldea El Guayabo, municipio de Iriona, Colón  muy cercana a Dulce Nombre de Culmí, nueve mujeres procesan la semilla de masica o nuez maya  y preparan una diversidad de platillos que no solo satisfacen el paladar de sus familias, sino que les ayuda a mantener el secreto de la energía y salud para una larga vida.
La visión emprendedora de estas mujeres marca la diferencia en estos poblados que se encuentran postergados y en el olvido, donde solo cuentan con el apoyo de la cooperación alemana a través de Prorena (Fomento del Manejo Sostenible de los Recursos Naturales y Desarrollo Económico Local), el Ihcafe (Instituto Hondureño del Café), y el ICF (Instituto de Conservación Forestal), quienes las han capacitado y les abren puertas para comercializar sus productos.  Su mercado por ahora se limita a los departamentos de Olancho y Francisco Morazán, pero estas microempresarias no pierden la fe de llegar a todo Honduras y abrir fronteras para que el café Río Plátano y el pan de nuez maya sea conocido a nivel nacional e internacional.
Estas mujeres tienen grandes retos, quieren consolidar sus microempresas e integrar a nuevas socias de la comunidad que les ayuden a impulsar sus productos.
Su faceta como microempresarias no hace que dejen sus responsabilidades en el hogar y en la crianza de sus hijos.
La mayoría de ellas han viajado a diversos eventos nacionales e internacionales y dentro de sus planes contemplan exportar el café y pan. Saben que apenas comienzan, pero desde ya se trazan las metas para no dejar morir un proyecto que no sólo ha mejorado la economía de sus familias, sino que les ha cambiado la vida.
La mejor herencia que dejaron los mayas a los pobladores de Olancho es el árbol de masica, convertido en el tesoro más preciado de las mujeres de la aldea El Guayabo.
Leer mas aqui.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Hasta 600 hondureños lleva la “Bestia” en cada viaje

La Prensa

Xiomara Orellana
La Prensaa
Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, México
El silbido del tren los alertó y los hizo correr. Eran las 6:00 de la tarde en México y una hora menos en Honduras cuando 600 hondureños apresurados tomaron sus bolsas y mochilas para lograr un espacio en la bestia.
Peleaban por subir las escalerillas, acomodarse en el techo y asegurarse de que partían en el segundo tren que vuelve a recorrer la ruta. Hombres y mujeres esperaron 25 días bajo el puente en la Avenida Uno, su improvisado hogar.
Bajo la estructura se albergaron, se taparon con cartones y se cuidaron entre ellos. Cuando el número de ilegales se adueñó de la zona, el gobierno municipal de Coatzacoalcos los apoyó con comida, sanitarios móviles y brigadas médicas.
 La ayuda no ha cesado. Por primera vez los emigrantes se sienten protegidos en una de las partes del trayecto que ha sido calificada de peligrosa.  
Ayer a las 9:00 de la mañana, el sonido del tren hizo que los mojados reaccionaran y sin pensarlo dos veces se alistaran a partir. Sin embargo, los policías federales les impidieron subir debido a que el tren transportaba químicos y ante el peligro les notificaron que hasta las 6:00 de la tarde se habilitaría el tren cargando productos menos peligrosos, para que continuaran su ruta.
 “Hay que seguir, ayer se peleaban demasiado por un puesto, ahora se va más relajado. Quedamos como 600, pero los que quedaron varados en Arriaga e Ixtepec vienen en camino y se va a incrementar el número. Por eso mejor nos vamos hoy y llegamos a Tierra Blanca”, relató Moisés Salguero, hondureño originario de Yoro, que con su esposa, hermano y primos viaja con la fe de cruzar la frontera.
Al mediodía, la llegada de un vehículo de paila que cargaba ollas de sopa de verdura con pollo los puso en fila para esperar que se les entregara su porción. La comida abunda y la aprovechan porque no saben cuántos días pasarán para que vuelvan a probar un bocado.
 “Estos días no nos podemos quejar. Nos han dado de comer hasta dos veces en un tiempo. La gente se ha portado bien y por primera vez han cambiado con nosotros. Hoy nos dan no solo alimento, sino también cariño. Es el único estado donde la gente ahora no ve mal a los migrantes”, relató Wilfredo Amaya, migrante hondureño originario de Tela, Atlántida. 
El temor de ser atacados los hace estar vigilantes. Con pena han descubierto que hondureños forman parte de las bandas que les roba, los secuestra y viola a las mujeres en el camino para cruzar la frontera. “No entendemos cómo siendo de la misma tierra nos pueden hacer daño. Dos hondureñas tuvieron el valor de denunciar a 10 paisanos que las violaron y robaron en la zona de Tenosique. Fueron detenidos por la Policía Federal, pero ayer los dejaron libres. Entonces vuelven a hacer de las suyas. La gente dice que por el valor de los hondureños los contratan las bandas, pero cómo nos hacen daño”, relató Óscar, migrante que ayer abordó el tren.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Investing in the youth of Latin America


Nearly one third of young people in Latin America and the Caribbean live in poverty, which endangers the exercise of the rights enshrined in international instruments, states a report entitled Invertir en juventud en América Latina y el Caribe: un imperativo de derechos e inclusión (The Investing in Latin American and the Caribbean Youth: a right and inclusion imperative), presented by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Quito.
The document shows a demographic profile of the youth in the region, analyzes poverty and wretched poverty, examines the access to education and employment, as well as the range of training and labour integration programmes, and explores social participation. The text was presented in the context of the ECLAC Ad Hoc Committee on Population and Development, to conclude today in the Ecuadorian capital.
In the report, ECLAC and UNFPA call for the design of comprehensive social protection and promotion systems for the youth in the region. Both institutions state the need to reach an agreement to invest in the youth with positive measures to be taken in the most vulnerable sectors, such as women and young people in rural areas, as well as those belonging to indigenous peoples or Afro-descendant communities.
According to UN data from 2011, in Latin America and the Caribbean, the population between 15 and 29 years old accounts for 26% of the total population. Currently, most of the countries of the region are experiencing a phenomenon known as "demographic bond", in which the largest percentage of the population is old enough to work and be productive compared to the groups considered dependent (children and old persons). This situation generates opportunities for social investment.
According to the document, in 2009, the poverty and wretched poverty incidence among young people between the ages of 15 and 29 in the region amounted to 30.3% and 10.1%, respectively. This group, together with children under 15 years old, is the most vulnerable to poverty in Latin America.
In Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, poverty incidence in the same ages is below 15%, whereas wretched poverty amounts to 5%; on the other hand, poverty affects more than 50% of the youth in Bolivia, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Paraguay, whilst in Honduras the incidence reaches 60%. 
Leer mas aqui.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A fuerza de pedalear, reos acortan sus sentencias en Brasil

Bajo la mirada de un guardia, Ronaldo da Silva (izq) y otros dos reos pedalean en bicicletas 

Associated Press

El reo Ronaldo da Silva se monta en una bicicleta y pedalea furiosamente por horas.
Pero no llega muy lejos en la prisión de mediana seguridad donde cumple una condena a cinco años y medio por robar una panadería.
La bicicleta de Silva es estacionaria.
Sin embargo, no se puede decir que no lo lleva a ninguna parte, porque a fuerza de pedalear acorta su sentencia.
Silva es parte de un innovador programa del estado de Minas Gerais por el cual los reclusos reducen sus sentencias si pedalean para generar la electricidad que alumbra varias lámparas de la ciudad de noche.
Con su pedaleo cargan las baterías usadas por diez lámparas de malecón que da al río. Pedalean ocho horas diarias y cada tres días de pedaleo se les quita un día a sus condenas.
Se trata de uno de varios proyectos que están siendo implementados en todo Brasil, destinados a aliviar la situación de prisiones superpobladas y ayudar a mejorar la autoestima de los reclusos, lo que contribuirá a su vez a que no reinciden en el delito cuando recuperen la libertad. Si bien hay sectores que opinan que se les tiene demasiada consideración a los delincuentes, estas iniciativas son vistas por sus promotores como formas efectivas de romper el ciclo de violencia predominante en los centros penitenciarios del país.
"Nos pasábamos todo el día encerrados en nuestras celdas y veíamos el sol dos horas diarias", recuerda Silva, un hombre de 38 años al que le faltan los dientes de adelante, lo que refleja las privaciones y los padeceres que ha enfrentado. "Ahora estamos al aire libre, generando electricidad para la ciudad y al mismo tiempo haciendo algo para recuperar nuestra libertad".
"En nuestras celdas, nos sentimos olvidados por la sociedad. Aquí nos sentimos útiles", agregó Silva, quien bajó cuatro kilos (nueve libras) y la quitó 20 días a su sentencia en la bicicleta.
Leer mas aqui.

U.S. Embassy in Honduras celebrates LGBT pride

New American Media
It would be hard to overstate just how amazingly LGBT-friendly the US State Department has been under the leadership of Hillary Clinton even as she prepares to depart later this year.
I first took note of the changes at hand in January of 2011 when the U.S. Ambassador to Honduras took the highly unusual step to publicly put pressure on the Honduran government to investigate an increasing number of attacks and murders committed against dozens of transgender women throughout the nation. That was soon followed by a statement by President Barack Obama himself and offers from the State Department to provide intelligence and legal assistance. It all culminated with Honduran authorities grudgingly announcing that they had launched a special hate crimes unit in November of that year.
Then came that extraordinary speech Secretary Clinton gave before the United Nations human rights office in Geneva in which she most memorably proclaimed 'gay rights are human rights' and made commitments to fight discrimination against members of the LGBT community throughout the world...
This year a number of US Embassies throughout Latin America felt the same way.
HONDURAS: On June 20th, US Ambassador to Honduras Lisa Kubiske tweeted "The US Government supports the Honduran LGBT community in their fight for equality and respect #humanrights #LGBTpride" on her Twitter account (she also sent the message in Spanish).
Critics of US support for Honduran president Porfirio Lobo Sósa quickly jumped on the comment and asked if US police and military funding to Honduras would be conditioned on ending killings against members of the LGBT community to which she indirectly replied "Many Honduran LGBT have repeatedly told me how much they appreciate USG support of SVU which has arrested 12 ppl connected to LGBT murders."
It turns out that on the same day Ambassador Kubiske sent those tweets she was holding a public LGBT pride month event in which she reiterated some of the warnings her predecessor Hugo Llorens had given the Honduran government a year and a half earlier.
Here is a translated excerpt of her comments that day as reported by La Tribuna:
“Honduras has serious issues towards the LGBT community because it does not respect their rights and for us that is a key issue. That's the reason why several officials from United States have come to Honduras to ascertain that investigations of these crimes are done in an effective and prompt manner... All vulnerable groups need protection and when crimes are committed against them they deserve an investigation and a proper judicial process.”
“We certainly acknowledge the advances made during the previous year but we have to keep in mind that the number of violent attacks against the LGBT community have continued to increase, unfortunately.”
La Tribuna also noted Interim Director for the USAID office in Honduras Ken Seifert was a guest of honor "announced" he was gay and read excerpts from his published novel "The Rising Storm."
USAID, as I wrote last month, is on the verge of launching an LGBT Global Development Partnership Initiative.