What were economic conditions like in Honduras before and during the Zelaya administration? what are they like now?
Don't look to US media for the answers to these questions. The only attention US media paid to Honduras during the Zelaya administration was framed in terms of US political interests: would Honduras remain the faithful dependent ally it had been, or would engagement with ALBA allow the country to establish an independent course guided by its own social interests? US media were pre-destined to cover the coup and its aftermath as a story of global power struggle between US interests and those of ALBA.
But as we have emphasized since the beginning, drawing on Honduran scholarship and reporting in Honduran news media and governmental and international sources of information, the Zelaya administration, and the coup that removed it, had a lot more to do with combating the conditions of economic inequality in the country, and experiencing push-back from those whose interests were not served.
So it is especially gratifying to see a mainstream English-language newspaper cover the economic context. Of course, it has to be a British paper. Jonathan Glennie, writing in the Guardian's "Poverty Matters Blog", has a terrific article that lays out the economic facts.
before the start of Zelaya's term:
2001: 60% of the population lived below the poverty line
2005: this number reached 66% of the population living below the poverty line
2005: urban unemployment stood at 6.5%
2005 data show that 47% of income was earned by the 10% of the population; 2.1% of the income was earned by the bottom 10%.
during the Zelaya administration:
2006 data show that 42.4% of income was earned by the 10% of the population; 2.5% of the income was earned by the bottom 10%.
In 2007, urban unemployment had declined to 4%
By 2007, the proportion of those living below the poverty line dropped to 60.2%
The minimum wage was increased over 60%.
School lunches were extended to 200,000 more children (a 25% increase).
Over the first three years of the Zelaya administration, economic growth averaged 5.6%
since the coup that illegally removed Honduras' president:
The economy contracted -3% in the year following the coup.
This kind of analysis-- no matter how it is substantiated, including with citation of Millennium Challenge Corporation data-- normally brings out the worst in commentators on this blog, who use weird anecdotal arguments to counter national and international, objective, data, and try to muddy the overall picture by selecting one or another of their favorite scandals and claiming it counters all the data confirming that Zelaya was good for the Honduran economy and was effecting modest decreases in economic inequality.
(We particularly like the commentators who cite the cost to maintain ex-President Zelaya's horse. Definitely on a par with the current right wing media claims that President Obama's trip to India is costing $2 billion.)
But the numbers don't lie.
So bravo to the Guardian for providing one of the first serious economic analyses in mainstream English-language media of the economics of the Zelaya administration.