Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Agreement for a Model City

Juan Orlando Hernandez, the head of the Honduran National Congress announced Tuesday afternoon that COALIANZA, the Comisión para la Promoción de Alianzas Público-Privadas, had signed an agreement for the first of three model cities in Honduras.

The agreement will cover one of the regions being discussed as possible locations for a model city.  The three regions mentioned as possibilities for model cities are:  near Puerto Cortés, the Agalteca Valley or the Sicaya-Paulaya valley near Puerto Castilla, and Choluteca. According to COALIANZA, it must be located near to both an airport and a port.

Hernandez told the press:
"It should be noted that these model cities will be established in depopulated areas of Honduras.  It does not imply the displacement of people or social groups."

None of these regions is completely vacant. Reading between the lines, what Hernandez is saying is that there are no large cooperatives or powerful landowners in these regions, groups that might vocally protest the expropriation of the land on which they live and work. 

La Tribuna reports that a funding partner for this model city will be the US company MKG Group, which has agreed to invest some 15 million lempiras ( or $7.8 million dollars ).  Michael Strong, identified an executive with the company, is reported to have said:
"The future will remember this day as that day that Honduras began developing.  We believe this will be one of the most important transformations in the world, through which Honduras will end poverty by creating thousands of jobs."

We were unable to locate any information on MKG Group, though the Michael Strong in question is, we believe, the Michael Strong associated with FLOW and the Free Cities Institute. Strong formed the Grupo Ciudades Libres LLC, a Nevada Company, with Kevin Lyons in 2011. 

Another group that claims to be involved is the Future Cities Development Corporation, one of whose founders is Patri Friedman, grandson of Milton Friedman, nobel laureate in economics. This group has previously been linked by The Economist to the Model Cities project in Honduras.

Hernandez said that the main funding partner of the project, whose identity will be revealed later, is a Canadian company that has been investing in development regions worldwide for the last 15 years, but he would not identify the company.

According to COALIANZA, the project will provide 5000 direct and indirect jobs this year, 15,000 next year, 30,000 in 2014, and 45,000 in 2015.

The agreement must still be approved by the rubber-stamp Honduran Congress, and the Executive Branch must appoint a governor.

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