Tag Archives: Honduras

Ripple Effects on Remittances

New Orleans       One thing leads to another.  Easy to say, but hard to endure, especially when it comes to the economic damage that keeps spreading from the pandemic shutdowns.  This is the real trickledown economics, and it’s not a good thing.

In this case, I’m talking about remittances from migrant workers and immigrant families living and working in Europe, the United Kingdom, Canada, or the United States.  Figure it out.  With 22 million unemployed in the United States and millions elsewhere around the world, you don’t have to be a world-class economist to realize that with work shut down, workers are not going to have the money left over to send back to families in Latin America, Africa, and elsewhere.

ACORN’s Remittance Justice Campaign has worked to bring this issue forward for years because the costs from most money transfer organizations, whether Western Union, Money Mart or the host of smaller outfits, are often exorbitant.  The World Bank’s goal of a 5% charge is mostly just an empty exhortation, if that, and doesn’t include the cost of conversion or larding on of other fees at the back end of the transfer.  Additionally, its exercise of setting a goal for costs is just that, an “exercise,” since, when queried by ACORN, its response has always been that it is the job of each nation’s central banking system to police any rate setting.  Our efforts to legislate in various countries have also not been successful to date.

It matters though.  Speaking to ACORN Honduras organizers recently, the entire conversation was about hunger.  Where we were mapping the promised food rations, we found the effort increasingly meaningless as we recognized that most of the support is going to San Pedro Sula and Cortez, the port city on the Gulf of Mexico, where the coronavirus outbreak has been most severe.  Unemployment has soared.  Many of the manufacturing plants, the maquilas, located around San Pedro Sula and owned by foreign interests have closed and some may not come back.  There is no national unemployment insurance or safety net.  There have been food riots in Cortez and other cities.  Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, and even Nicaragua depend on remittances as a major percentage of their GNP.  The bottom is falling out.

Africa is in the hot water.  According to reporting by The Economist, transfers from one company from Britain to east Africa have dropped by 80% and from Italy to Africa by 90%.  In Lesotho, remittances are 16% of GDP, in Nigeria 6%, and in Senegal 10% where the remittances originate in Italy, Spain, and France.  The hawala system of person-to-person money transfer that depends on money being flown into countries and exchanged, especially in the Middle East and south Asia, has also been decimated with planes not flying.  “Bankers in Somalia, where remittances are worth 23% of GDP, say they are running out of notes.”

The hunger won’t be limited to Honduras. It will be global and, tragically, will likely take more lives than the virus.  Globalism now seems to end at a nation’s own borders.  It is unlikely that there will be any worldwide effort from richer countries to bail out poorer ones, with their economies now on the ropes as well.  Despite the rhetoric, people-to-people remittances far surpass foreign aid, and with countries tightfisted, and families reeling, this is a horror exploding without ready relief.

***

Please enjoy Light Of Love by Florence & The Machine.

Thanks to WAMF.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Food Delivery slow going in Honduras

Food Crisis Growing in Honduras Cities

New Orleans       Central America doesn’t get the press on the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s as real there as it is in other countries, except perhaps more dangerous since these countries lack the same level of infrastructure and capacity.  Guatemala managed to break into the news cycle recently with a plea to the White House that it halt deportations from the United States southern border that risked importing coronavirus cases into the country’s weak infrastructure.  A Sunday call with ACORN Honduras organizers brought the harrowing issue of food insecurity home to me with a vengeance.

ACORN has worked for years in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, along with the colonias and smaller cities supporting the maquila industries around the San Pedro Sula manufacturing hub.  Both cities and much of the country are on stay-at-home orders, but it’s complicated.  Residents are allowed different days when they are allowed to leave their homes in order to buy groceries, go to the bank, or other essential errands.  The system is based on the last digits in the national identity cards for all Hondurans.  Organizers report though that no matter the design of the system, Fridays are the biggest days, perhaps because of the impending weekend, although the sequencing was technically designed to regulate the flow evenly throughout the weekdays.  What this has meant is huge lines at bank ATMs, groceries, and pharmacies and shortages particularly involving food.

In the best of times hunger is an issue in the communities where ACORN lives.  Food insecurity is such a dainty euphemism for the gripping pain and damage of persistent hunger approaching famine.  The government has promised to provide 800,000 food packets that they claim will be delivered to homes in lower income areas that would provide basic requirements for several weeks.  The government also has publicly committed $2.5 billion in relief, but without details.  The President and members of his family have been caught in a drug trafficking scandal with indictments in the United States.  More than ten years after golopistas upended the government, the fallout continues and includes suspicious election results, terms that breach the constitution, an unpopular regime, and a divided populace, all of which leads to concerns about the transparency of the relief expenditures.

Organizers report that the government has been slow to implement the program and delivery seems to favor some areas over others, exacerbating hunger and fear in our membership.  Trying to get a grip on reality, we are organizing our members to report where food is being delivered and where it is not, so we can create a map with geocoding in order to pressure the government for an equitable and transparent food delivery system.  Members are in constant touch via telephone, texting, and WhatsApp, so we’re hoping we can assemble the data on the ground that leverages basic food needs in our communities.

Some parts of the world can cry about toilet paper and the run on hot dogs and hamburger, while for countries like Honduras, its about the basics of having enough rice and beans to survive the pandemic.

***

Please enjoy Devil Put the Coal in the Ground

Thanks to WAMF.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail