Monday, November 18, 2013

Political Pragmatism?

It was surreal to read an Agence France-Presse interview with Adolfo Facussé, one of the vocal supporters of the coup against Manuel Zelaya Rosales in 2009, saying Xiomara Castro could represent real change in Honduras, whereas none of the other candidates does.

Facussé, who is president of the Asociación Nacional de Industriales (ANDI), said:
We have businessmen from all the parties.  Libre has something that appeals to me and that is the promise of change. The country definitely needs to change.

How exactly the nation needs to change is pretty clear: Facussé went on to characterize the Lobo Sosa government, and especially its economic policies, as a disaster.  Of Juan Orlando Hernandez, the National Party candidate for President, Facussé said "he has the characteristics to become an autocratic president."

Aline Flores, president of the other leading business group in Honduras, Consejo Hondureño de la Empresa Privada (Cohep), made it clear she didn't agree with Facussé about LIBRE.  She said:
He (Facussé) has always had his own opinion and I respect him a lot, but we don't share some ideas.

Facussé did get support in his criticism of the Lobo Sosa government. Oscar Galeano, a former president of COHEP, said
Some businessmen will prefer the right, some the center, and others the left.  What is certain is that Honduras cannot continue depending on irresponsible governments that don't promote investment and development, because (with Lobo), we have lost much time; we have a high rate of unemployment.

Facussé said he was not afraid of leftist ideas, though he's not enchanted with Castro's call for a Constitutional Assembly:
I'm not afraid of the ideas of the left, the intelligent left (....) they have not done badly in El Salvador; in Nicaragua the businessmen are content.  We, without having a leftist government, have an idiotic government.  For businessmen it is not good to have a populace dying of hunger, poor people.

That seems to fly in the face of Facussé's support for the 2009 coup, but he clearly thinks that political intervention made a point that will limit what even a LIBRE president does:
If Doña Xiomara is elected, Don Mel Zelaya will have the intelligence to manage things [the government] without confronting the rest of society.

It is shocking to see a Honduran businessman call the government "idiotic". But increasing social inequality, impoverishing the populace, is exactly what the last two National Party presidencies have done.

A recent study by The Center for Economic Policy Research , "Honduras Since the Coup: Economic and Social Outcomes", authored by Jake Johnston and Stephan Lefebvre, points out that
Economic inequality, which decreased for four consecutive years starting in 2006, began trending upward in 2010. Honduras now has the most unequal distribution of income in Latin America.

Only three countries in Latin America have seen their GINI coefficient, a measure of how unequal the distribution of income is in the country, increase since 2009.  The rest have seen decreases of 1 to 7 percent.  Honduras had a 12.5% increase in its GINI coefficient, from .50 in 2009, to .59 in 2011, the latest year for which there are records.  That's the greatest increase of any country in Latin America, and the highest absolute value for a GINI coefficient in Latin America.

In fact, since 2001, inequality has consistently increased under Nationalist governments, declining only during the four years of the Zelaya administration. Under Zelaya, Honduras had about the same level of economic inequality as Costa Rica in 2009.

And as the Honduran businessmen speaking out note, poverty is bad for business. The rich may get richer while the poor get poorer, but eventually, you run out of customers.

1 comment:

RAJ said...

Greg Weeks has a post about other coverage of the same surreal story at Two Weeks Notice that is well worth reading as well.