The biggest change that has occurred in Honduras economy since the early 1990s is the growth of the composition industry. In 2012, the so-called maquilas factories accounted for almost half of total exports. In the same year, the sector employed 119,000 people in 320 companies.
The industrial sector was hit hard by the global financial crisis in 2008 and since the coup d’état the following year. Production fell by 15 percent and 36,000 workers lost their jobs. The sector has since recovered, mainly thanks to increased investor interest after the Central American states agreed to enter into a free trade agreement with the EU 2012. The 2010 Haiti earthquake also caused many companies to move their production to Honduras.
Maquila operates with favorable tax terms in free trade zones that the government has established. Production consists almost exclusively of clothing exported to the United States. Honduras has Central America’s largest maquilas sector, which is mainly due to cheap labor and the country has the region’s best port.
In the traditional industry, for example, canned goods, beverages, sugars, cigarettes, textiles, chemicals and paper are manufactured. The multinational banana companies Chiquita and Dole have major interests in the food industry. The Honduran industry is dependent on imports of machinery, raw materials and foreign technology.
New airport in Tegucigalpa
The government decides that the Soto Cano military air base in Palmerola, just over seven miles north of Tegucigalpa, will be rebuilt and become the capital’s new airport. The current Toncontín airport is centrally located in Tegucigalpa but is considered one of the most dangerous in the world, due to short runways and surrounding mountains.
Serious violent crimes shake Honduras
Three massacres within a week show the prevalence of violence in Honduras. First, eight bus drivers are murdered in the city of Choloma, then they refuse to pay extortion money that criminal gangs call “war tax”. Then, seven people are murdered in a poor neighborhood in Tegucigalpa, according to police for suspected street gangs terrorizing areas where they sell drugs. In the third case, six people, three of them children, are killed in a village in the northwest of the country.
Insult gives prison
The head of Globo radio channel, David Romero, is sentenced to just over eight years in prison for “insulting” a prosecutor’s wife. Romero claims that the verdict was ordered by President Hernández because of reporting on the social security scandal.
Continued demonstrations against the government
Protests against the government and demands for an investigation into the IHSS scandal continue. In Tegucigalpa, students throw stones at police using tear gas and water cannons, and elsewhere in the country, roads are blocked off by burning tires. The protesters are calling on the ever-increasing demands to have the International Commission set up against impunity in Honduras, Cicih, following designs from the corresponding United Nations-supported Commission in Guatemala, Cicig. In neighboring countries, Cicig’s work has led to the president being forced to resign because of bribery charges.
Ex-minister arrested for drug crimes
Former investment minister Yankel Rosenthal, who chairs the leading football club Marathon, is arrested at a US airport suspected of drug offenses and money laundering. At the same time, Rosenthal’s cousin Yani and Uncle Jaime Rolando, a newspaper owner who has been presidential candidate for several years, are arrested. They belong to one of the most affluent families in Honduras. Yankel Rosenthal left the government in June. At the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, Yankel and Yani Rosenthal are sentenced to 2.5 and 3 years in prison respectively.
Protest campaign for land reform
Farm workers block off roads around the country in a protest action demanding land reform.
Growing protests against the president
Tens of thousands of people march with torches in Tegucigalpa demanding the resignation of President Hernández. Similar demonstrations, where the torches have become an important symbol, have been held every Friday for six weeks. Twelve members of the protest movement have launched a hunger strike near the presidential palace.
Several arrests in the corruption scandal
The Supreme Court orders that Congress Vice President Lena Gutiérrez be arrested because of the IHSS corruption scandal revealed in June. A further ten people are also arrested, including Gutiérrez’s father and two brothers. They are accused of counterfeiting and fraud. All will be released soon, but preliminary trial proceedings await the end of the month.
Major protests since the fraud scandal was revealed
A major fraud scandal is revealed in the social security system IHSS, in a report presented by a congressional committee with representatives of several parties. Tens of thousands of residents attend protest marches demanding the president’s departure. Hernández tries to distance himself from the charges and orders a “crusade” to punish the guilty. According to prosecutors, the equivalent of about $ 120 million has been embezzled, and a large portion of the money should have benefited the ruling party PN in the 2013 election campaign (see also September 2014).
Ex-President Lobo’s son extradited to the United States
Fabio Lobo Lobo, the son of ex-President Lobo, is arrested in Haiti and released to the United States, where he is suspected of drug trafficking.
Unclear HD result about the coup
The Supreme Court Constitutional Committee states that the elements of the Constitution that Zelaya is considered to have violated – and which led to his dismissal (see June 2009) – are not applicable. This applies to two so-called artículos pétreos (“articles written in stone”) in the 1982 Constitution – articles that are exempt from the right of the National Congress to make amendments to the Constitution by a two-thirds majority. One of them, Article 239, concerns the ban on re-election of a president (see Political system). The Court now finds that the ban violates two international conventions ratified by Honduras as early as 1977: OAS- the Convention on Human Rights (San Jose Pact) and the UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). It is not clear what the court’s ruling will have for practical consequence
The UN commends efforts to combat violence
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is on a visit to Tegucigalpa and commends Honduras for decreasing homicide rates. New statistics show that the homicide rate has fallen, to 66.5 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2014, against a peak level of 86.5 the years before. Ban Ki-Moon expresses concern about the continuing problem of unaccompanied refugee children from Central America to the United States (see July 2014), although the number has decreased.