Honduras first came to my attention when was a reporter back in New Orleans, Louisiana — at one time known as the “Gateway to the Americas.” Although Miami has eclipsed New Orleans these days, Hondurans in particular still gather there, including in the lead roles within the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana.
Since then, I’ve continued to follow Honduras, and it has remained in the news for both the right and wrong reasons. On the one hand, it may well be the first nation to implement revolutionary and innovative LEAP zones (ZEDEs) for the development of startup cities. On the other, it remains extremely violent and a key route for the drug trade.
This week, we’re giving plenty of attention to Honduras here at the PanAm Post, in the lead-up to the nation’s elections on Sunday, and with good reason. Perhaps most important, Honduras presents the potential to go in one of two different directions: it could follow the Bolivarian Alliance, and join the likes of Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua in the downward spiral of “Socialism for the 12st Century”; or it could benefit from the catch up effect — the theory of convergence — and develop rapidly, with foreign investment and openness to trade.
In addition, Honduras is the first in a line of presidential elections in Central America, and the outcome and subsequent policies will set the tone for the region. El Salvador and Costa Rica are up next in February, followed by Panama in May.
For those seeking background, I recommend this panel discussion from the Heritage Foundation, held on Wednesday in Washington, D.C. The speakers include Roger Noriega of Vision Americas, Eric Olson of the Woodrow Wilson Center, and Joseph Humire of the Center for a Secure Free Society — along with the host, Ana Quintana, a Heritage research associate.