Thursday, November 11, 2010

honduran poverty in the latin american/caribbean context (2)

Gallup Question: Do you currently have a job or work, either paid or unpaid?
  • Only 26% of Hondurans responded 'yes' to this question. It's the lowest percentage for all Latin America and the Caribbean. No other country even comes close. A shocking statistic!
  • The other end of the spectrum: Paraguay (60% said 'yes'), Bolivia (55%), Trinidad (53%), Brazil (52%), Argentina (52%).
Source: Gallup Worldview 

This helps explain why people are the biggest export of Honduras. 25,000 Hondurans who illegally entered the United States were deported in 2009 (this number of deports probably only represents 25-33% of the ones who "made it.")  While the U.S. is the destination of choice of most emigrating Hondurans, many others move to Canada, Spain, Mexico, and other Central, South American, and European countries. One of the government's marketing campaigns refers to Honduras as "The Heart of the Americas." If one can imagine these pulsing streams of people constantly leaving the country's territory in northerly and southerly directions, the metaphor becomes that more vivid.

Is there an upside to this? Maybe. El Salvador and, to a lesser degree, Guatemala were scenes of a similar massive migrations of their people in the 1980s (escaping their countries' agonizing civil wars.)  Today, the remesas (hard currency transfers) from the Salvadoran and Guatemalan diasporas supply a vital lifeline of economic stimulus that continually invigorates their economies. The same phenomenon is already happening in Honduras, where remesas from North America, Europe, and elsewhere already play a key role in maintaining economic and social stability.

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