PI Briefing | No. 12 | Honduras asserts its sovereignty

85 leading economists back Honduras’ decision to place its development over foreign corporate profit.
In the Progressive International's 12th Briefing of 2024 we bring you news from our ongoing campaign to support the Honduran people in their fight against corporate colonialism. If you would like to receive our Briefing in your inbox, you can sign up using the form at the bottom of this page.

This week, 85 leading economists from institutions around the world came together in a letter organised by the Progressive International to back Honduras’ decision to assert its democracy and sovereignty by withdrawing from the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). The economists argue that “international arbitration courts like ICSID have allowed corporations to sue states and restrict their freedom to regulate in favour of consumers, workers and the environment.”

ICSID was being used by US corporations and Silicon Valley investors to sue Honduras for unpayable sums of money. For example, on 20 December 2022, US corporation Honduras Próspera Inc. announced a $10.7 billion legal claim against the Honduran government, which amounts to two-thirds of Honduras’s planned budget for 2023. Próspera’s investors want to be compensated by the Honduran people for their democratic decision to overturn a 2013 law enabling the creation of special economic zones known as ‘ZEDEs’. Sold to foreign investors as a crypto-libertarian paradise, these zones were granted unprecedented legal and financial autonomy from national government policies.

In 2023, the Progressive International convened a high-profile delegation to Honduras to hear directly from the communities affected by the ZEDEs, to draw international attention to the crime of corporate colonialism, and to support the government of President Xiomara Castro to defeat it.

Now we celebrate the historic decision by Xiomara Castro to withdraw from the ICSID system altogether.

The 85 economists who agree include major figures in the profession, such as award-winning Indian development economist and PI Council member Jayati Ghosh, US American Jeffrey Sachs, who was called “probably the most important economist in the world” by the New York Times, Chilean Gabriel Palma, father of the Palma Ratio of inequality, Greek economist, former finance minister and PI Council members, Yanis Varoufakis, award-winning British economist Ann Pettifor, known for predicting the 2008 financial crisis and South Korean economist Ha-Joon Chang, who regularly features in top global thinkers lists.

The letter, which you can read here and see the full list of signatories, received significant coverage, including in the Intercept in English, and in Spanish, Latin American and Honduran media.

Now, we are coordinating technical and political support for the people of Honduras to defeat the ZEDEs from top experts. A new Progressive International delegation landed back in Honduras on Wednesday. They are holding high-level meetings with the government and visiting the island of Roatán on a fact-finding mission.

Yesterday, the delegation held a press conference at the Presidential Palace to offer their perspectives to the media on Honduras’ withdrawal from ICSID.

Please sign up to follow our campaign Honduras Resiste here.

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Art: A mural of slain environmentalist and indigenous leader Berta Cáceres in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

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