PBI-Honduras accompanies meetings that reject ZEDEs, while Canadian investor pursues the Mariposa ZEDE
The Peace Brigades International-Honduras Project has been accompanying mobilizations and town hall meetings since this past June that are rejecting Economic Development and Employment Zones (ZEDEs).
La Tribuna notes that Article 2 of the ZEDE Law establishes different types of modalities including special agro-industrial zones, autonomous cities, renewable energy districts (for wind or solar parks), and special mining zones (such as Guapinol).
The Orquidea ZEDE, a special agro-industrial zone, is currently being built by the Agro Alpha company to grow chili peppers and tomatoes for export to the United States. It started with 34 hectares of land and will increase to 158 hectares in the next four years. It is expected to begin exports to the U.S. in October.
The Ciudad Morazán ZEDE in Choloma and the Próspera ZEDE off the northern Caribbean coast of Honduras would be considered autonomous cities.
The Associated Press reports: “Promotions for Próspera [on the island of Roatan] depict futuristic apartments overlooking the sea and promise a place with ‘key checks on governmental power, a bill of rights protecting people of all income levels and a straightforward structure for doing business.’”
AP explains: “The zones are exempt from import and export taxes and can set up their own internal forms of government, as well as courts, security forces, schools and even social security systems. They administer their own sea and airports, if any, as well.”
The Canadian ZEDE
PBI-Honduras has noted that beyond Ciudad Morazán, Orquídea and Próspera: “There are further ZEDEs for which, as Honduran civil society has noted, ‘there is no information whatsoever’, such as the Mariposa ZEDE.”
That ZEDE is being led by Canadian Daniel Morin and his wife Katerina.
Katerina has written: “In 2012 we learned that Honduras passed new legislation enabling their Special Economic Zone (SEZ) program that later became known as Economic Zones of Employment and Development or ZEDEs.”
She adds: “We sold everything we had in Canada, bought a truck and a trailer, and drove all the way from Montreal to Guatemala to be closer to the action.”
Now, the website for Mariposa says: “We believe this project is possible to realize in Honduras as part of the Honduran ZEDE Program. This page has been created to attract future residents, investors, and team members while we are still working on our master plan to be presented to the Honduran Government in the near future.”
Their vision is “to create a startup city” that would “become a Health Sanctuary with clinics that use a combination of Holistic, Naturopathic, Functional, and Integrative Medical approaches” and that would “create an Ecstatic Birth culture by providing educational opportunities for future parents and birth practitioners.”
A “Little Canada” ZEDE in Trujillo?
In October 2015, Canadian activist Karen Spring wrote: “In the Trujillo region, Garifuna communities are being evicted from their ancestral lands amid the possible construction of an Economic Development and Employment Zone (ZEDE) or Model City.”
In that article, she highlighted that: “[Canadian investor Randy] Jorgensen’s investments are seen as the seed of a future ZEDE or parts of what could grow into a free trade, special development zone in the region.”
Canadian journalist Sandra Cuffe also reported in December 2014 on this development and her article quotes Jorgensen who says: “We sold 500 properties to Canadians. They’re starting to call it Little Canada.”
On July 3, PBI-Honduras observed the open town hall in the central square of the city of Trujillo where the municipality was declared free of ZEDEs.
As PBI-Honduras continues to accompany the town hall meetings that are rejecting ZEDEs, PBI-Canada will also continue to research what we can find out about Canadian investments and interests in these ZEDEs.