PBI-Honduras observes town hall meetings in Atlántida opposed to ZEDEs “special regimes”
On August 3, PBI-Honduras posted: “This weekend PBI observed the open meetings held in the municipalities of Tela, Masica and San Francisco, in the department of Atlántida. The municipalities in the north of the country declared themselves free from #ZEDEs, exercising the right to participation.”
It highlights: “The population assures that ‘the territory is not going to be sold to foreign capital’.”
PBI-Honduras adds that: “The Movimiento Amplio [Broad Movement] mentions that ‘with these actions in all these municipalities every day there are more territories that are offered to protect their territories.’”
ZEDEs are Economic Development and Employment Zones. They are also referred to as charter cities, startup cities or free private cities.
On May 19, the Government of Honduras stated: “The ZEDE presents new opportunities for investors, in particular those who are looking to diversify their supply chains; also, help facilitate greater trade between through various fiscal and non-fiscal incentives.” NACLA more critically notes: “The 2013 ZEDE law provided unprecedented legislative, administrative, judicial, and financial autonomy to investors for a wide range of territorial ventures, including urban development and resource extraction.”
The National Union of Rural Workers (CNTC), that PBI-Honduras has accompanied since May 2018, says that ZEDEs will lead to the privatization and sale of territory and natural goods to foreign capital. They have also expressed concerns about other social impacts including forced displacement, increased violence, loss of cultural heritage, and increased repression along with environmental impacts such as deforestation, pollution, biodiversity loss, and the destruction of protection natural areas.
Rather than improving economic development, the CNTC warns that ZEDEs would mean “subordination of the national economy to the interests of global capital.”
There is also the concern that the affected areas are abundant in natural resources and contain large Indigenous and Afro-descendant populations who have already been impacted by land conflicts, extractive projects, criminalization and serious violations of their human rights as a result of their defence of their territory. There is the further concern that ZEDEs would serve to undermine the right to free, prior and informed consent that Indigenous peoples have on their ancestral lands.
PBI-Honduras observes town hall meetings on ZEDEs
June 19: PBI-Honduras observed the open town hall gathering in La Ceiba where the population of that community said no to ZEDEs.
June 22: PBI-Honduras was present at the Supreme Court of Justice in Tegucigalpa when Honduran civil society organizations affirmed their opposition to ZEDEs and their commitment to stop them.
July 3: PBI-Honduras observed the open town hall meeting in Trujillo where the municipality was declared free of ZEDEs.
July 23: PBI-Honduras observed the town hall meeting in municipality of Arizona where the municipality was declared free from ZEDEs and extractive projects.
July 30/31: PBI-Honduras observed the open meetings held in the municipalities of Tela, Masica and San Francisco, in the department of Atlántida that declared themselves free of ZEDEs.
To read more about Economic Development and Employment Zones (ZEDEs), please see the PBI-Honduras article: “Honduras will not be ZEDE-d”.