f_0023439_19181 - Honduras Crisis Transition and Reform...

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Fall 2011 The Ambassadors REVIEW 27 Honduras: Crisis, Transition and Reform Hugo Llorens United States Ambassador to Honduras, 2008-2011 his should be a time of triumph and opportunity for Honduras. Two years after a coup d’état toppled President José Manuel Zelaya, Honduras has successfully restored its dynamic and democratic political system. The freely elected government of President Porfirio Lobo has secured deserved international recognition. In May, former President Zelaya returned to Honduras, ending a lengthy exile in the Dominican Republic that had prolonged the country’s political polarization. The following month, the Organization of American States (OAS) lifted its suspension on Honduras’s participation, a moment of profound symbolic and practical significance and a diplomatic objective that the United States and other countries in the region had worked long and hard to achieve. Importantly, Honduras’s economy and public finances have stabilized and are on the right track. The political crisis, coupled with the global financial crisis, battered Honduras; in 2009, gross domestic product (GDP) declined by two percent, 1 the budget deficit ballooned and foreign investors fled just as the US recession dampened demand for Honduran exports. In the maquila industry, clustered on the Caribbean coast near Puerto Cortés, orders plummeted by 40 percent, and factory owners idled 30,000 employees, nearly 20 percent of that sector’s workforce. 2 Today, the Honduran economy is expanding across a broad front. GDP growth is projected to be 3.7 percent this year and four percent next year. 3 Providing a further boost, international assistance is strong, giving critical support to a country where the average adult has six years of education and only 13 percent of the population uses the Internet. 4 Politically, the Lobo government has moved swiftly to achieve national reconciliation since assuming office in January 2010. In July, the Truth Commission, appointed by President Lobo to investigate the causes and consequences of the political 1 “Executive Board Approves $202 Million in Financial Support for Honduras,” International Monetary Fund, 1 October 2010. Available online: http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pr/2010/pr10374.htm. 2 “Honduras Background Note,” United States Department of State, 18 August 2010. Available online: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/1922.htm. 3
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f_0023439_19181 - Honduras Crisis Transition and Reform...

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