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Monday, April 19, 2010

Honduras: the struggle continues

Thousands of people gathered yesterday at Tegucigalpa demonstrating in solidarity with the peasants of Aguán valley, demanding the retreat of the Army from this area, the liberation of the arrested citizens and the implementation of a radical agrarian reform in the country.

In Honduras 300,000 families have no land whatsoever while other 200,000 have just small plots of 1-3.5 hectares (an hectare is 2.47 acres or 100 x 100 meters). This is one of the main causes of poverty in the largely rural country of 7-8 million people (est.) Almost half of the population lives on less than half a dollar per day and 25% on less than 25 cents. Meanwhile the wealthiest 20% has almost 30 times the wealth of the poorest 20%, a very sharp divide.

After the usual IMF-imposed criminal reforms and the also usual dumping of subsidized crops by affluent countries like the USA, Honduras has gone from being the greatest grain producer of grain of Central America to not being able to feed its own people, being forced to import 1 million tons of maize, 20 thousand tons of legumes and 50 thousand tons of rice. Instead Honduras now is producing mostly oil palm for export, what does not benefit the people, suffering from genuine food instability, but only the landowner minority, which has appropriated the vast majority of the land, and multinational corporations.

Source: UITA (found via La Haine). For more photos see here.


Marnie said...

Several of my neighbors are from Honduras. One woman, in particular, I have gotten to know. She is from a landed family of six children. Her husband is also from a large Honduran family who owns a cattle ranch.

Very much like many of my own ancestors, her husband is not the first or second son, so will not inherit the ranch. It is not official, but my impression is that they are welcome to visit the ranch, but they are expected to move on. Of course, as a daughter, she will also inherit no land.

Luckily for them, they are doing reasonably well as "undocumented" immigrants here in San Francisco. If they had not managed to make their way here, they might very well be in the poor, unlanded half million of Honduras.

With a birthrate of four children for every women as recently as the year 2000, it is easy to see how the process of unlandedness has developed. Please see birth rate statistic at the following url:

Honduras has a limited amount of arable land. It likely cannot absorb the population increase it is and has experienced.

Unlike most of Europe and North America, where wealth is mostly no longer directly derived from agriculture, Hondurans who do not own land are likely to become poor.

Honduras is hardly the first country to experience the dire consequences of primogeniture.

I'm not sure about crop dumping by the US. It can't have helped, but it is hardly the sole cause of trouble in Honduras.

The expulsion of the well respected Manuel Zelaya by the military also has not helped the situation of the country.

Maju said...

Well, there seems to be a real problem of latifundism and cash-crop plantation. While I'm in favor of natality control by means of empowering women and improving education and social assistance, I understand that the main problem in all or most cases is not just one of overpopulation but one of wrong distribution of the economic control. Most people on Earth have a negligible ecological imprint, being the wealthy (individuals and countries) who waste most of our resources in their luxuries, military spending and ill-conceived production methods such as long distance transport of goods.

There is an alternative for Honduras but it implies socialism and agrarian reform.

Marnie said...

Ignoring for the moment, the relative environmental footprint between developed and undeveloped countries, what about the ousting of Manuel Zelaya?

It's a real setback for Honduras, as far as I can see.

Maju said...

I think so.

I have written some posts in the recent past about the coup and resistence to it. See: