A high-level Progressive International delegation has landed in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to support the Honduran people and their government led by President Xiomara Castro in their battle against corporate colonialism.
The delegation, which includes Andrés Arauz, former Director of the Central Bank of Ecuador, Maria Fernanda Carrascal Rojas, Member of the Colombian Chamber of Representatives, Guillaume Long, former Foreign Minister of Ecuador, Ladan Mehranvar, Senior Legal Researcher, Columbia Center for Sustainable Investment among other political leaders and policy experts, will have a series of meetings in the country from 10 to 13 November with government officials including President Xiomara Castro.
Welcoming the delegation, Honduras’ Deputy Foreign Minister, Gerardo Torres Zelaya, said, “We are delighted to welcome the high-level delegation of the Progressive International and their support in the struggle to recover our national sovereignty.”
The state of Honduras faces enormous legal claims brought by foreign corporations for democratic decisions taken by the Honduran people and their elected representatives. One such claim is for $10.7 billion, two-thirds of Honduras’s planned budget for 2023.
The Honduran people are being sued for their democratic decision to overturn a post-coup 2013 law enabling the creation of special economic zones known as ‘ZEDEs’. As Gerardo Torres Zelaya explained, “The Honduran people resisted the new colonialism of the ZEDEs. They voted to recover our sovereignty after 12 years of dictatorship — and we have honoured this popular mandate.”
Sold to foreign investors as a crypto-libertarian paradise, these zones were granted autonomy from the national government creating spaces where companies can abuse workers rights, ignore international agreements and extract the nation's wealth into bank accounts in tax havens.
The country is now facing a total of ten international investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) claims from different corporations. These claims will be heard at the World Bank’s arbitration court, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).
The Progressive International delegation comes as pressure mounts on President Joe Biden to honour his campaign position against investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions in international trade and investment agreements. Last week, 41 US lawmakers, led by U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Representative Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) sent a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai and Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged them to remove investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) from the U.S.’s existing trade and investment agreements.
Varsha Gandikota, co-General Coordinator of the Progressive International and delegate to Honduras, said that Honduras is facing “one of the most brazen attempts at corporate colonialism in the 21st century.”
This raid on the people of Honduras is carried out in the darkness of international arbitration courts that lock in corporate power. While Honduras faces ten such cases, it is not an exception. The vast majority of investor-state-dispute-settlement cases involve companies from the Global North suing countries of the Global South.
We stand with the Honduran people in their resistance to corporate colonialism and insistence on their popular sovereignty.
The world rises for Palestine
As Israel destruction of Gaza continues, the global movement of solidarity with the Palestinian people grows. Last Saturday saw historic national mobilisations, with marches, demonstrations and protests all over the world. 300,000 marched on Washington DC to demand the US government stops arming Israel and pushes for a ceasefire.
But are protests enough? This was the question discussed by four PI council members: Yara Hawari, Jeremy Corbyn, Vashna Jagarnath and Yanis Varoufakis: in a teach-in this week. Each praised the growing movement but offered ways to take it further, making solidarity much more than a slogan. You can watch back the teach-in here and find out more about the actions and groups organising them that are necessary to break the ties of complicity with the State of Israel.
Justice and fair pay for Bangladeshi workers
Last week, Bangladeshi police shot and killed Rasel Howlader, a 25 year-old machinist, campaigning for a minimum monthly wage of $209 for garment workers. Undeterred by the state’s murderous violence, garment workers and their trade unions are continuing their brave campaign, protesting this week outside the offices of the Minimum Wage Board. We stand with the workers and their demands for justice and fair pay.
Art: Dispersion is the work of the contemporary Honduran artist Lester Rodriguez. It was displayed at the 2010 Honduran Biennial, just one year after the June 28, 2009 coup d’etat.