Entradas etiquetadas como CAFTA


Tegucigalpa, 16 de agosto. Pese a existir un acuerdo entre el gremio productor del arroz y autoridades de la Secretaría de Agricultura y Ganadería (SAG), los productores y agroindustriales del rubro arrocero continuaron denunciando esta semana que el gobierno persiste en su intención de importar sesenta mil toneladas (60,000) del producto básico, lo que sumado […]

Origen: http://elpulso.hn/cerca-de-un-segundo-arrozazo/

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Honduras and CAFTA show us one of the key reasons why TPP should be opposed

What labor complaints seek is not “dispute settlement” but freedom and rights for workers. CAFTA has not yet achieved this in Honduras.

Origen: Honduras and CAFTA show us one of the key reasons why TPP should be opposed

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El impacto del TLC con los Estados Unidos en la agricultura hondureña

El jueves 15 de octubre del 2015, en el marco de la celebración del día mundial de la alimentación, La Vía Campesina y FIAN Honduras realizaron el foro: “Impacto del Cambio Climático y los TLC en la pequeña y mediana agricultura campesina”.

En el foro, el Centro de Estudio para la Democracia presentó el estudio: “El impacto del CAFTA-DR en la agricultura hondureña, a diez años de su vigencia”.

En este estudio se presentan evidencias como el Tratado de Libre Comercio de los Estados Unidos con Centroamérica y República Dominicana (CAFTA-DR, por sus siglas en inglés) ha debilitado la economía campesina productora de granos básicos, incrementado la dependencia del país de las importaciones de alimentos y potenciado la producción para la exportación de monocultivos como la palma africana y caña de azúcar, altamente depredadores del medio ambiente y factor esencial en la reconcentración de la tierra en beneficio de la gran empresa agro industrial.

Se resalta la necesidad de que el movimiento campesino hondureño continúe con su lucha por un modelo de desarrollo que priorice la vida y el derecho a la alimentación antes que los mercados.

La Presentación del estudio estuvo a cargo de su Director Ejecutivo del CESPAD, Gustavo Irías.

Para leer documento completo, haga clic en el PDF

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Employees of U.S.-Owned Sweatshop Companies Protest Corruption and Privatization of Social Security Institute

Friday, September 4, 2015

Photo caption: Protest outside of ZIP Bufalo by sweatshop workers, September 2, 2015. Photo by Radio Progreso

In the early morning on Wednesday, maquila workers set up a roadblock in front of Import Processing Zone (ZIP) Bufalo in the city of Villanueva, just outside of San Pedro Sula, Honduras’ second largest city and industrial center. Over 2000 sweatshop workers maintained the blockade for approximately three hours before the Honduran police and Military Police moved in to violently evict them.

ZIP Bufalo is one of many free trade havens that flourished under CAFTA and the location of many foreign-owned and operated sweatshops. It houses factories owned or leased by U.S. companies Fruit of the Loom (Confecciones Dos Caminos), Jockey International, and Petralex (automobile parts), amongst others.

Radio Progreso reports that state forces tear-gassed, beat up and repressed protesters for over four hours. The sweatshop employees were demanding the annulment of the new Social Protection Law and an end to government corruption. The approval and implementation of the law that the protesters are rejecting, was a central demand of the International Monetary Fund’s structural adjustments under a loan signed with Honduras in December 2014.

The new law comes into effect today (September 4) and replaces the Social Security law that manages healthcare and pension funds for public and private sector employees under the Social Security Institute (IHSS). The law will have tremendous impacts on maquila workers’ health and safety as it essentially privatizes the public institute accessed by over 600,000 public and private sector employees.

Photo caption: Protest outside of ZIP Bufalo, September 2, 2015. Photo by Radio Progreso

For many sweatshop workers, the IHSS acted as a mediator of health and safety concerns of employees (the majority of which are women in the garment industry) and large Canadian and U.S. owned companies with horrific track records of abiding by health and labor standards. Workers paid monthly contributions to the IHSS that allowed them access to medical specialists inside the public institute, particularly important in an industry where workers are at high risk for industrial accidents and repetitive strain injuries.

The new law will likely force sweatshop workers to become more dependent on employer-run and administered healthcare services inside factories that are often understaffed, bias, inefficient, and lacking in specialists, or make co-payments and seek medical attention from private healthcare providers. Although the IHSS services were not always perfect or efficient, it was a much better option for sweatshop workers to receive the best, most economically viable treatment for their healthcare needs. The IHSS was almost forced to bankruptcy when government officials linked to the current party in power, the National Party, stole over $300 million from the Institute between 2012 and 2015.

The blockade in Villanueva was one of many blockades organized around the country as part of the indignados [indignant] movement against corruption, the looting of the IHSS, and demanding the installation of an International Commission Against Impunity (CICIH). The indignados movement began taking to the streets in early May when evidence was published about the gradual and well-planned scheme to steal millions of dollars from the IHSS. On Tuesday, maquila workers from ZIP El Porvenir in El Progreso also occupied the road outside the sweatshop complex where other foreign-owned companies are located and were violently evicted by Honduran police and military as well.

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Honduras: US Government Fails to Act to Prevent Labor Rights Violations

Written by Mateo Crossa
Thursday, 19 March 2015 15:16

In 2012, the AFL-CIO and 26 Honduran unions and civil society organizations handed a 78-page submission to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) claiming that the Government of Honduras violated its commitments under the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) Labor Chapter. In response to these claims, DOL published a report that “found evidence of labor law violations in nearly all the cases.” The DOL provided a series of recommendations to address the concerns raised and called for the implementation of a monitoring and action plan.

Although the report included a number of problems that ended up demonstrating labor rights violations in Honduras, some issues were addressed in a way that make the case’s future seem uncertain.

The report was published almost three years after the submission was handed in (March 26, 2012). This is not the first instance in which the DOL has been slow to respond to claims of CAFTA-DR labor violations. In April 2008, the DOL received a submission from the AFL-CIO and six Guatemalan workers’ organizations alleging that the Guatemalan government had violated its obligations under the CAFTA-DR to effectively enforce its labor laws. After reviewing the submission, DOL issued a report in January 2009 finding significant weaknesses in Guatemala’s labor law enforcement and making specific recommendations for improvement. It also stated that the Office of Trade and Labor Affairs (OTLA) “will reassess the situation within the next six months following publication of this report and determine whether further action is warranted.” However, instead of six months, six years have passed and OTLA has still not announced what it will do. In the case of the new Honduran report, the OTLA assures that within 12 months it will assess whether there has been progress in resolving the labor violations, but is there any chance that this timeline will be respected?

Moreover, the DOL report is incomplete. The submission filed at the DOL by U.S. and Honduran unions shows a clear concern about the National Plan for Employment by the Hour, approved by the Honduran government on November 5, 2010, saying, “it is a special emergency program that, on a temporary basis, promotes hourly employment with the goal of stimulating good jobs, supporting existing jobs and avoiding unemployment and underemployment” The decree allows employers to hire workers by the hour, part time or full time, under short-term contracts or contracts for specific work or services. Under this program, “contracts can be for as short as two hours per day in rural areas or three hours in urban areas.” Labor organizations claimed that this program limits the possibility of union organization, generates labor instability and precarious working conditions and violates the labor code. However, the report does not seem to address these concerns as requested by the submission. Curiously, the report mentions that “to date there have been no formal complaints to the [Government of Honduras] regarding this program.” However, the labor organizations in Honduras claim otherwise. The Women’s Rights Center (CDM), an organization with a long history of struggle for labor rights, conducted research [PDF] from 2011 to 2013 and not only showed that the National Plan for Employment by the Hour violated labor rights, but also that the process to make it legal was irregular:

There is no need for an Hourly Employment Law. The work falling under “hourly employment” is legally regulated since 1974 by Law Decree 121 that regulates the application of the minimum wage; so it is already legal to hire a part-time worker if labor rights and permanent contracts are respected as indicated by the general rule of labor law.

In spite of these facts, the National Plan for Employment by the Hour became law last year, and despite the concern expressed by labor organizations in Honduras, it was entirely overlooked in the report published by the DOL.

The DOL report recognizes that some workers in Honduras are getting paid below minimum wage and that this is a problem that must be urgently addressed. However, the submission also mentions that wages in export processing zones are among the lowest in the country:

In January 2012, the monthly minimum wage for a garment worker in a factory that employs 151 or more was set at 4645.34 lempiras (LPS) (~$244.87) whereas the minimum wage for a worker in a similar size manufacturing firm is 6944.01 LPS (~$366). Additionally, the monthly minimum wage for garment workers located in five designated depressed areas in Honduras who do the same work as other garment workers in the country is only 3463.89 LPS (~$182.60).

According to a report [PDF] by the Maquila Solidarity Network and groups based in Central America, the monthly cost of the basket of basic consumer goods (including services) was 681 dollars in Honduras in 2012. In other words, the minimum wage in export processing zones only covered approximately one-third of basic monthly expenses. Today, this low purchasing power has hardly budged and real wages in export processing zones in Honduras remain the lowest [PDF] in Central America.

The DOL Report does not mention this serious shortfall although it is reported in the submission and represents a violation of Conventions 95 and 131 of the International Labor Organization, and Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The submission includes a long list of trade unionists who were murdered, assaulted or threatened from 2009, the year that Honduras experienced a military coup d’état, to 2011. After describing each case, the submission states that “the U.S government should urge the government of Honduras to investigate and prosecute those responsible for threats of acts of violence against trade unionists related to their traditional trade union activities, as well as those involved in pro-democracy activities related to the 2009 coup.” This issue wasn’t addressed in the DOL report either, even though, as the submission states, these attacks are also labor rights violations since “they prevent the victim from exercising the labor rights protected under the trade agreement and have broad chilling effects on the exercise of those rights by other workers.”

Honduras is set to receive more loans and funding from the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the Inter-American Development Bank, and other governments and international institutions that wish to promote a new axis of development in this country through new economic and export-oriented zones called ZEDES (Zones for Economic Development and Employment), also known as “charter cities.” However, if the ZEDES projects, which we have described in previous posts, proceed without the submission claims being fully addressed by Honduran authorities, we should not be surprised if labor rights in these new zones will be violated even more systematically and with even greater impunity. To adequately resolve and prevent labor rights abuses, OTLA must work actively with labor organizations that have been monitoring working conditions in Honduras day after day to identify and demand that action be taken against violations. Additionally, government and multilateral funding for private investment schemes should not go forward so long as these violations continue.

Fuente: http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/the-americas-blog/honduras-us-government-fails-to-act-to-prevent-labor-rights-violations

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Child Workers, Other Labor Violations Found in Honduras by U.S.

A child harvests coffee beans in the department of El Paraiso, 120 km east of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, December 20, 2010. AFP PHOTO/Orlando SIERRA. (Photo credit should read ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images)

The U.S. government said in a report released Friday it found evidence of illegal use of child labor in Honduras as well as systemic problems with the country’s ability to enforce its labor laws.

The findings from its investigation were issued three years after the AFL-CIO and 26 other Honduran unions and other groups filed complaints of violations of the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement.

The labor protections are intended to raise living standards in other countries but also protect U.S. workers from unfair competition. U.S. companies were involved in Honduran workplaces cited in the report and farms and factories cited exports to the U.S.

The Office of Trade and Labor Affairs (OTLA), a division of the Department of Labor, said its detailed review turned up labor law violations in almost all of the still operating businesses that the unions and groups complained about. OTLA said its review left it with “serious concerns regarding the government of Honduras’ enforcement of its labor laws in response to evidence of such violations.”

“Honduras must be required to enforce its labor laws and ensure that employers are complying with fines and remediation orders,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement.

Honduras is obligated to upholding certain labor protections, including guarantees on union organizing, bargaining and wage, health and safety and child labor protections, as a signee of the DR-CAFTA agreement.

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An admission from trade-deal supporters: NAFTA hurt some workers

A policewoman removes a man protesting the Trans-Pacific Partnership as U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman (R) testifies before a Senate Finance Committee hearing. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

The Democratic think tank Third Way has long defended centrist, pro-business policies — including the North American Free Trade Agreement, which allowed many U.S. companies to ship jobs to Mexico.

Now, in arguing for a new trade pact being negotiated by the Obama administration, Third Way is making what appears to be a surprising concession about NAFTA, the most famous trade deal in American history: It hurt some blue-collar workers, the group says.

But, Third Way’s Jim Kessler and Gabe Horwitz argue in a new analysis released Thursday, trade agreements since NAFTA — ​ which look much more like the massive pacts currently being negotiated with countries in Europe and Asia — have shown much better results.

Kessler and Horwitz say that NAFTA, the Clinton-era agreement which expanded trade with Canada and Mexico, “fell short” in its promises to middle-class American workers. But they argue that more recent agreements, such as those with Panama (2012) and Singapore (2004), have proven much better for workers and the U.S. economy as a whole, improving the United States’ balance of trade in goods with 13 of 17 countries.

Courtesy Third Way.

“NAFTA was a mixed bag if you look at the data,” Kessler said in an interview. “I think it was a plus if you worked in the office and a minus if you worked on a factory floor. There was a lesson learned that policymakers followed. It was, these agreements have to be different. We did make them better. And if you believe the administration, the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be the highest standards ever.”

He added: “I want to credit some of the original NAFTA skeptics, who wanted to demand more of these trade agreements, and got them.”

Dealing with NAFTA’s legacy may present challenges for President Obama as he pushes for trade agreements with Asia and Europe, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Many Democrats on Capitol Hill oppose the proposed trade deals, saying they’ll hurt U.S. jobs.

But supporters of expanded trade say they have learned the right lessons to make sure deals benefit America more than other countries — and not to replicate what happened with NAFTA, which many free trade advocates acknowledge may ultimately not have worked to the United States’ interest.

Third Way, for one, had long defended NAFTA, often vigorously, as it advocated for new trade deals. (Kessler says the group still supports NAFTA overall.) But by focusing only on trade deals reached since the turn of the century, Third Way is able to paint a picture of agreements largely helping the U.S. economy, if only slightly. It finds that last year, the United States exported a total of about $30 billion more in goods than it imported from the 17 countries covered by more recent agreements.

Effects have varied by country. The balance of trade in goods increased the most with Singapore, by about $12 billion in today’s dollars. It worsened the most with South Korea, by about $5 billion. (The analysis excludes trade in services, where the U.S. tends to run surpluses with its trading partners.)

Progressive groups that have clashed with Third Way over trade — and which oppose the TPP — criticized the analysis, arguing that it’s too simplistic just to tally up each trade agreement as a win or a loss.

The magnitude of losses from NAFTA far outweigh gains from the later trade agreements, they say, and TPP has the potential to do the same, especially if it doesn’t include a way to prevent trading partners from subsidizing their industries by cheapening their currency. That has long been the worry with China.

Public Citizen’s Lori Wallach said the TPP most closely resembles the Korea framework. “The Korea FTA actually has the improved labor and environmental standards, and we are getting slammed by a massive new trade deficit since that one went into effect,” she said.

The AFL-CIO’s Celeste Drake argues that Third Way isn’t looking at the distribution of the gains from trade, which tend to favor business owners and shareholders, rather than workers. The labor federation also argues that some regulatory standards have gotten worse in more recent trade agreements.

“While labor and environmental provisions have generally improved since NAFTA, for example, provisions on access to medicines, rules of origin and financial services in many cases took a turn for the worse,” Drake said. “None of the agreements are what we would call ‘high standards.’”

Fuente: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/02/12/now-even-supporters-of-new-trade-deals-are-bashing-nafta/


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Trade, Violence & Migration: Honduras

Monday, I attended a briefing at the U.S. Capitol by Larry Cohen, President of the Communications Workers of America, and AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, both of whom were part of a fact-finding mission to Honduras this past November. It turns out that the Catholic Church and the AFL-CIO are just about the only two organized groups in the U.S. who even discuss the root causes of immigration, and what can be done in both countries to improve the lives of our citizens.

“What I saw continues to shock me,” said Cohen, and he has seen a lot of poverty and cruelty over the years. He spoke with evident passion as he described the conditions of violence and impoverishment that the group witnessed. “For working people, it couldn’t be more distressing,” he said. Cohen spoke about visiting a deportation center where one or two planeloads of people per day are flown back to Honduras after being apprehended trying to cross in the United States. He related their stories, many of which concluded with a determination to try again. “We have nothing here,” one man told the group according to Cohen and, indeed, they have no future in Honduras. After the Central America Free Trade was passed in 2005, many people in Honduras were pushed off their land. They had been subsistence farmers and had little to live on, but at least they could subsist. They were easily enticed to enterprise zones and maquiladoras, producing intra-national migration patterns from rural areas to the cities. Their land was sold to multinational corporations which now produce mostly palm oil. When the factories failed to produce the economic benefits the proponents of CAFTA predicted, the people were unable to return to the land. In the cities they had no jobs. They are easy pickings for violent gangs many of which have ties to the drug trade.

When the AFL-CIO delegation met with government officials, they were told that the government does not have the manpower, nor the control in various violence-prone cities, to enforce the country’s labor laws, which is a key requirement of CAFTA and was one of the promises made by its advocates to guarantee that the new trade rules would not fail to actually help the people in Honduras and other Central American countries. According to Tefere Gabre, 70% of employers do not honor the country’s minimum wage law – and the minimum wage is $100 per month. When he shared that figure with Honduran government officials, they contested it. The government estimates that only 60-65% of companies do not honor the minimum wage law.

The traditional economies of Central America were thoroughly overturned by CAFTA.  Patterns of living that stretched back into the pre-Colombian era are no more. But, instead of a booming economy, there is only violence and desperation. If a large multinational corporation has a grievance, it is quickly given a hearing. Meanwhile, union organizers are beaten up or fired. 35 union activists have been killed since the coup in 2009, and that is only the documented cases. There is a 2 percent conviction rate in the country. “We are under an economic dictatorship,” Nelly del Cid of Foro de Mujeres por la Vida told the group. “Our poverty produces wealth for others.”

The 2009 coup in Honduras has made virtually everything worse in the country. The report issued by the AFL-CIO after their visit states, “Throughout the delegation visit, workers and community leaders spoke not only about the extreme levels of corruption, but also the increased militarization of the country, and widespread corruption among security forces and the impact it had on their daily lives.” Even a government probe found that as much as 70% of the nation’s police forces are corrupt.

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The report also cites one success story: Fruit of the Loom, which is one of the nation’s largest private employers. In 2009, the company, after pressure from the Workers Rights Consortium, the AFL-CIO and United Students Against Sweatshops, negotiated a collective bargaining agreement with workers. But, even this success story is threatened. If the U.S, government proceeds with a trade agreement with Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, the jobs at Fruit of the Loom will soon head there.

Mr. Gebre spoke about his own experience as an immigrant, and how troubled he was by the images this summer of violent reactions to the unaccompanied minors crossing the border into the U.S., many fleeing the violence in Honduras and its neighbors. “They are clearly refugees,” he said. It is ironic that opponents of comprehensive immigration reform like to claim that they are merely trying to uphold the law, but U.S. law allows for refugees to enter the country and stay. For Gebre, the situation touches his life story. At thirteen, he fled his native, war-torn Ethiopia and went to Sudan. At the time, Sudan was still hosting Al-Qaeda, so it was not exactly a bastion of enlightenment values. But, even they did not send back children to a violent homeland.

Perhaps the most shocking fact presented at the conference was this. The U.S. government spent $3.7 billion on deportations last year. The entire Honduran government budget is $4.4 billion. And, a recent IMF report recommends that the Honduran government cuts its budget by a third in the kind of austerity program that will only further impoverish the people.

Later this spring, the U.S. Congress will engage in a major debate about U.S. trade policy. No member of Congress should be permitted to vote on the proposals unless they go to Honduras and see what the AFL-CIO team saw. To say that CAFTA did not meet its promises is the understatement of the year. As Mr. Gabre said, “It’s not working for us. It is not working for them. We ask for solutions from the people in this building.” Many of the problems in Honduras are beyond the control of the U.S. government to be sure. “Trade agreements we can control,” Gabre told group of congressional staffers and members of the press. But will we? Or will we just auction off another slice of the common good to the highest bidders?

Here is a link to the AFL-CIO’s full report. 

Fuente: http://ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/trade-violence-migration-honduras

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Libertad de mercado como política de Estado



Javier Suazo

Clasificado en: Estado, Economia, Paradigmas, PoliticasEconomicas,
Disponible en:   Español       



Uno de los principios básicos que sirven de sustento al modelo neoliberal es la libertad de mercado. Penetra las instituciones de gobierno, el estamento jurídico, los gremios, grupos de interés y relaciones sociales, pero sobre todo, la conciencia y el sentido común.
Si hay libertad de mercado hay democracia, en el sentido de que la primera es una condición para que se fomenten, promuevan y consoliden los valores y las instituciones democráticas. Libertad de mercado sin libertad política, consolida gobiernos autoritarios y represivos que, a largo plazo, afectan la democracia.
En Chile, esta predica fue cierta en la teoría y utilizada en la búsqueda de objetivos complementarios como desarrollo y estabilidad política, pero la evidencia demostró que la libertad de mercado y los objetivos económicos se lograban más rápido con la instauración en el poder de un régimen autoritario y represivo.
En Honduras, el modelo de ajuste económico y cambio estructural de los 90s tuvo sustento en un gobierno democrático que, incluso, otorgó garantías y reconocimiento político a grupos de izquierda y apoyó el proceso de descentralización con la vigencia de una nueva ley de municipalidades para hacer el gobierno más representativo con la participación de gobiernos sub/nacionales y organizaciones de la sociedad civil.
Pero también es cierto de las intervenciones realizadas para privatizar las funciones y competencias públicas del Estado, desregular las actividades económicas y liberalizar los principales precios de la economía (tasa de interés, salario, aranceles, tipo de cambio), y los servicios públicos como la luz, agua potable y la atención básica en salud.
A partir de ese momento, la libertad de mercado ha estado presente en la agenda de todos los gobiernos (liberales y nacionalistas) que han gobernado el país; incluso, el gobierno de Zelaya Rosales ratificó y dio plena vigencia al CAFTA-RD, principal institución en materia comercial,  sin evaluar los impactos negativos en los sectores más vulnerables como son los pequeños productores de alimentos básicos, comunidades étnicas y las Mypyme.
Con el golpe de Estado de junio de 2009, se profundiza esta libertad al servir de argumento para separar a Zelaya Rosales del poder ya que su gobierno iba por la ruta equivocada de violaciones a las  reglas de juego establecidas, controlando el negocio de importación de combustibles por las transnacionales, prohibiendo la minería de cielo abierto, fijando un salario desmedido, bajando las tasas de interés y estableciendo encajes legales diferenciados para apoyar la producción de granos básicos; pero ante todo, violando los valores de la democracia representativa con el ingreso de Honduras al ALBA manejada por un presidente de un país camino al socialismo.
Todas las violaciones cometidas por Zelaya a la libertad de mercado fueron corregidas después del golpe de Estado, incluso la prohibición para el desarrollo de proyectos de energía eléctrica en zonas de bosque protegidas. Pero además de ello, se avanzó aún más con la promulgación de la ley del empleo por hora, las alianzas público-privadas, las zonas de empleo y desarrollo económico (zedes), la ley de desarrollo y reconversión de deuda pública, la reducción a dos días en la entrega de las licencias ambientales, y la reingeniería del sector público que achica al Estado y tira a la calle a empleados de las empresas públicas que deberán ser manejadas por la empresa privada y los bancos.
Asimismo, con la profundización del ajuste económico que aumenta impuestos y el servicio de la deuda pública por el mal manejo de la política económica con un fuerte sesgo recesivo y poco transparente, lo cual exige mayor libertad de mercado con menos controles. Este ajuste recesivo focalizado en reducir la inflación, ha impactado negativamente en los ingresos de la población asalariada, trabajador por cuenta propia, los empleados por hora y los micros y pequeños empresarios. Es más, el objetivo de inflación con un rango máximo de 7.5%  no se logrará a finales de 2014 (se estima en cerca de 9%)  ya que, para parafrasear a Aníbal Pinto, más allá de los impuestos establecidos y la mayor devaluación que encarece los productos de la canasta básica reducida, todavía no se ha investigado el subsuelo de la inflación, o sea sus causas estructurales.
El gobierno de Juan Orlando Hernández le apuesta a más libertad de mercado, pero también a mayor gasto en seguridad pública con la policía militar con rango constitucional; el conflicto clásico entre libertad económica y libertad política está latente, con un interés político de lograr más rápido los objetivos económicos bajo el ropaje de una democracia autoritaria sin fecha de término.
Tegucigalpa, 28 de noviembre de 2014.

Fuente: http://alainet.org/active/79082&lang=es

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Viewpoint From Honduras: CAFTA, Forced Immigration, Deportation Connections

Posted: 10/17/2014 9:40 am EDT Updated: 10/17/2014 9:59 am EDT

At the deportation center in San Pedro Sula, planes land with over 100 Hondurans a day, returned from our border prisons to their native land. They are mostly young men, shackled hands and legs, who have harrowing tales of days in what they call the “ice box,” the US detention centers on our borders that are so crowded they must stand up for hours, taking turns lying down to sleep. These were heartbreaking conversations, nearly hopeless tales through tears–of failed attempts to unify with families or find work.

At the same center, beautiful posters highlighting jobs for English speakers in call centers, handling call center work for US customers. Call center companies tout minimum wage call center jobs for deportees so they can pursue “the American dream” without leaving San Pedro Sula. One particular poster touted a call center company that received a big boost from T-Mobile two years ago after it laid off 3,000 in the US and moved work to Honduras, the Philippines, and other locations. T-Mobile then denied that it had moved the services outside the U.S. and tried to prevent the fired employees from collecting trade adjustment assistance. Consistently, working families pay the cost of increased profits on every side of our disastrous trade policies.

We spoke to community, union, women’s, and children’s groups, the Honduran government, our embassy. Amazingly, all confirm a unified story–an economy in collapse, widespread violations of minimum wage and all social protection laws, small farmers forced from their land, subsistence farming replaced by African palm and the jobs created in maquila zones dwarfed by the numbers forced to leave ancestral lands and travel to cities already jammed.

The subsistence farmers or campesinos describe how they are pushed from land where they grew beans or corn. Now it is corporate farms growing African palm for sale to US and other multinationals, while Honduras imports beans from the U.S. or even Ethiopia, and the campesinos line up for work at factories far from their homes. There are not enough jobs and 70% pay under the poverty level minimum wage while labor inspectors say they are outnumbered by the violations.

The unions confirmed constant violations of organizing rights in direct violation of CAFTA. These included everything from the murder of leaders to collapse of bargaining rights where they once existed. But our AFL-CIO complaint has sat at the Labor Department for more than two years, just as the complaint of widespread abuse in Guatemala was held for 6 years before the US Trade Representative finally raised it with the government there. Eighty-three human rights lawyers and 43 journalists have been murdered in recent years trying to enforce or report on the constant violations of everything decent.

So as we return what can we do besides shout loudly motivated by the pain of the Hondurans we met. First we need to look at the economic frame that has produced this–19th century capitalism largely unregulated. Second — our own immigration policy, concentrating enormous resources on deportation and nothing on resettlement. Third — the trade deals, in this case, CAFTA, that accelerated the free market devastation. NAFTA, CAFTA, trade preferences for China, one after another–millions of lost jobs in the U.S., our wages depressed by global comparisons, and more than $10 trillion in total trade deficits destroying our industrial cities, and creating huge budget deficits nationally and in those same cities with cuts to social services.

We await the President’s action on immigration. Not only the potential easing of deportation for certain categories of immigrants, but also a change in processing immigrants for deportation. We expect him to act boldly after deferring for months after waiting and waiting for House Republicans to act.

But just as importantly we need to build the widest possible coalition against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Farming communities in Mexico and central America already devastated by subsidized U.S. corporate farm imports will now see maquila factories close in droves as U.S. and other multinationals head for Vietnam with 90 million people and a 27 cents an hour minimum wage. That minimum wage is about 1/3 of the minimum in Honduras. How long will Hanes, Fruit of the Loom and other employers remain in central America when competitors head to Vietnam with labor costs far lower and a government there that will agree to protect the profits from those lower wages?

Our President promised a different trade regime when he ran for election in 2008. The misery of twenty years of trade deals in the U.S. and the Americas needs to confront his Trade Ambassador. Multinationals and especially the financial sector
have benefitted tremendously. The rest of us, whether global north or south, are left only with some combination of hope and anger as motivation to fight for real change.

Let’s end Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) which allows multinationals to sue for lost future profits. This means that if Honduras passes new legislation to safeguard the environment from African palm or a higher minimum wage, multinationals that lose profits can sue the government for billions of dollars. Let’s kill TPP or any trade deal that benefits governments like Vietnam where human rights are an illusion. Let’s link together the campaigns for immigrant rights, environmental justice, and workers rights like never before. I met amazing freedom fighters in Honduras from labor, electeds, women and community who have not given up. We haven’t give up either. The voices from Honduras and our won communities will strengthen our determination to stand for justice.

Cohen, who is president of the Communications Workers of America, was in Honduras Oct. 12-15 for meetings with Honduran workers and union leaders, community and women’s activists, elected officials and others to focus awareness on the immigration crisis affecting Central American families and the connection with CAFTA and similar bad trade deals. He was joined by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the leading Democratic member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, and other U.S. union leaders.

Fuente: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/larry-cohen/viewpoint-from-honduras-c_b_5996170.html

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Honduras, segundo exportador de la región CAFTA a EE.UU.

Miércoles, 13 Agosto 2014 23:53

En diez años

 Sin el CAFTA, la maquila no habría alcanzado el 7 por ciento del PIB ni habría generado más de un millón de empleos en diez años, según Daniel Facussé.

Sin el CAFTA, la maquila no habría alcanzado el 7 por ciento del PIB ni habría generado más de un millón de empleos en diez años, según Daniel Facussé.
Tegucigalpa, Honduras

En los diez años de vigencia del Tratado de Libre Comercio entre Centroamérica, República Dominicana y Estados Unidos (RD-CAFTA, por sus siglas en inglés) Honduras se ha convertido en el segundo exportador hacia la Unión Americana con unos 80 mil millones de lempiras (4 mil millones de dólares) al año.

Así lo establece un informe presentado ayer por Melvin Redondo, principal negociador de Honduras en ese acuerdo, en el foro “Análisis del impacto del CAFTA en Honduras”. El tratado está vigente desde el 1 de abril de  2006.

Desde ese entonces, han crecido las oportunidades de comercio de Centroamérica- que incluye importaciones más exportaciones- y ahora alcanzan los 20 mil millones de dólares (400 mil millones de lempiras) según el estudio.

Se han creado y protegido miles de empleos, como el resultado de la estabilidad jurídica y de las reglas de juego claras existentes entre las partes, agrega.

El CAFTA es un instrumento jurídico de derecho internacional entre las partes que permitió mantener el comercio y proteger las inversiones a través de ese instrumento, expresa.

El valor del comercio hondureño y de Estados Unidos supera los 9 mil millones de dólares (180 mil millones de lempiras) y de eso más de cuatro mil millones de dólares son exportaciones.

En cierto sentido las exportaciones han bajado, pero eso es debido a la férrea competencia existente en la actualidad, admite el documento.

En 2006, Honduras había exportado a ese país unos 3. 700 millones de dólares, “lo que nos convierte ahora en el segundo exportador de la región CAFTA, solo superada por Costa Rica”, destaca.

En ese sentido, Honduras ocupa la posición 48 en el universo de países que comercian con la Unión Americana.

Durante 2013, la fabricación de arneses y el sector confección forman el 68 por ciento de todas las exportaciones del país, señala.

Por su parte, Daniel Facussé, presidente de la Asociación Hondureña de maquiladores (AHM), aclaró que con solo el hecho de firmar un CAFTA, no basta.

Cada uno de los sectores económicos tiene que hacer una estrategia a fin de obtener la estructura que se necesita para ser competitivos y vender los productos a Estados Unidos.

Reconoció que en el caso de la maquila ha sido evidente el crecimiento de empleo, pues ya está definido, no así en otras áreas. “No hemos logrado como país identificar otras oportunidades para crecer aún más dentro del CAFTA”, reveló el dirigente.

-$3.800 millones ha exportado la maquila al año.
-Un millón de empleos se han creado en Honduras en diez años.
-$ 800 millones exportó el sector agrícola en  2013 (superávit con EEUU).

-Revitalizar las reglas de origen del acuerdo para ajustarlas a la realidad productiva.
-Resolver los temas sanitarios.
-Dinamizar los órganos de administración del tratado.
-Reactivar el capitulo de cooperación del tratado.
-Relanzar una agenda complementaria de competitividad.
-Repotenciar el sector agro-alimentario.

Buscarán igualdad de condiciones: Honduras promoverá una reforma al tratado

TEGUCIGALPA.- El Gobierno de Honduras iniciará un proceso de concertación con los países centroamericanos para buscar una reforma al Tratado de Libre Comercio con Estados Unidos porque algunos sectores productivos aún no están preparados para competir en igualdad de condiciones con sus pares estadounidenses.

Así lo informó ayer el presidente Juan Orlando Hernández en el evento de conmemoración de los diez años del Tratado de Libre Comercio entre Estados Unidos, Centro América y República Dominicana (CAFTA-RD) por sus siglas en ingles.

Indicó que partiendo de la premisa de que todo lo humano puede mejorarse, es tiempo de revisar algunos puntos y como ejemplo citó que para Honduras “es importante que los productores de pollo puedan tener la oportunidad de ingresar al mercado americano”, pero hay trámites que llevan varios años sin caminar.

Además le preocupa – aseguró el gobernante – que el sector agrícola porque debido a las crisis económicas, las políticas y los fenómenos naturales no pudo avanzar lo suficiente en estos 10 años para competir con Estados Unidos.

Sobre el particular el jefe del equipo negociador de tratados comerciales, Melvin Redondo dijo que comenzará a hablar con los sectores productivos para analizar necesidades de reforma y luego con los gobiernos centroamericanos para que hagan lo mismo en sus países para hacer una propuesta conjunta a Estados Unidos.

En el marco del evento, el presidente Hernández pidió a los empresarios estadounidenses con presencia en Honduras que le apoyen en convencer a los políticos de su país que para Estados Unidos es una inversión rentable que Centroamérica sea una zona de paz y desarrollo.

Por el contrario, una región violenta y “con pocas oportunidades es un enorme riesgo para Estados Unidos” y por eso el CAFTA debe mejorarse para que permita mayor desarrollo en estos países.

Aseguró que Honduras hace lo suyo y está trabajando en simplificar los trámites para hacer negocios, mejorando su infraestructura, impulsando los sectores productivos y pronto cambiará el sistema tributario para hacerlo más simple ya que actualmente es “como una patastera, es como una red toda complicada entre nudos”.

Productos agrícolas de temporada, gran potencial

TEGUCIGALPA.- El negociador oficial de acuerdos comerciales por la parte hondureña, Melvin Redondo expresó que el mayor potencial para aumentar las exportaciones está en los productos agrícolas de temporada.

De acuerdo a redondo, actualmente solo se aprovecha del TLC el banano, piña y melón, cuando hay otros que tiene gran demanda en Estados Unidos y solo resta mejorar el tema sanitario.

En la celebración de los 10 años de firma del tratado, Redondo dijo que los rubros que más han aprovechado en Honduras son los arneses para vehículos, frutas frescas, confección y productos del mar que han sido insignes en este proceso.

Agregó que viendo empíricamente las cifras puede cuestionarse que la balanza comercial entre Honduras en Estados Unidos es deficitaria pero hay que tomar en cuenta el impacto de la factura petrolera, que tiene un gran peso.

Si usted elimina la importación de combustible, vamos a tener una balanza con superávit porque solo en el sector agrícola se exportaron 842 millones de dólares en el año pasado”, expresó el funcionario.

Reconoció que todavía hay retos para mejorar esa balanza reorientando los esfuerzos de promoción de la producción hondureña en el mercado de Estados Unidos.

Lo dijo


“El empresario que reciba de parte de un burócrata un pedido de dinero, me lo hace saber para proceder con todo el peso de la ley porque esto no puede seguir siendo en este país”, Juan Orlando Hernández, presidente de la República.

Fuente: http://www.tiempo.hn/portada/noticias/honduras,-segundo-exportador-de-la-region-cafta-a-ee-uu

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Con foro se conmemora 10 aniversario del Cafta

El foro se realiza para celebrar el 32 aniversario de la Cámara de Comercio Hondureño Americana, presidida por Mey Hung.

Con el Simposio de “El impacto del Cafta en la Región” se conmemora el décimo aniversario de la puesta en marcha de las negociaciones entre Centroamerica, República Dominicana y Estados Unidos.
El evento se realiza en un hotel capitalino a partir de las nueve de la mañana con la participación del presidente de Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández.
Al lugar acudió un selecto grupo de especialistas, empresarios, funcionarios y expertos en materia de inversión y comercio internacional para analizar el impacto de un instrumento preferencial con el principal socio comercial para Honduras.
Los delegados gubernamentales y empresariales analizarán las inversiones y oportunidades que el Tratado de Libre Comercio ha traído a Honduras y el resto de países firmantes.
Se prevé que Hernández ofrezca una disertación enfocada en la promoción de inversiones y desarrollo, en el marco de los 10 años del acuerdo.
El foro se realiza para celebrar el 32 aniversario de la Cámara de Comercio Hondureño Americana, presidida por Mey Hung.
La AmCham es una institución independiente, apolítica y sin fines de lucro, fundada en 1982, con representantes de la empresa privada y conformada por compañías estadounidenses, hondureñas y de otras nacionalidades.

Fuente: http://www.radiohrn.hn/l/noticias/con-foro-se-conmemora-10-aniversario-del-cafta


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Obispo Pates: EEUU debe cambiar las políticas de comercio y económicas, detener el fluido de drogas y armas para detener crisis en la frontera

Obispo Pates al Secretario Kerry: Estados Unidos debe cambiar las políticas de comercio y económicas, detener el fluido de drogas y armas para detener crisis en la frontera. Enfoca en la violencia y los factores económicos relacionados que empujan a la gente a migrar

Estados Unidos no puede separar la crisis humanitaria de varios miles de menores no acompañados viajando a la frontera estadounidense de las causas fundamentales en América Latina, muchas generadas por políticas estadounidenses, dijo el presidente del Comité sobre Justicia y Paz Internacional de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos durante una carta enviada al Secretario de Estado John Kerry el 24 de Julio. La carta del Obispo Richard Pates de Des Moines, Iowa, fue enviada tras su reciente viaje a Honduras, Guatemala y El Salvador del 24 de Junio al 2 de Julio.

“La crisis en nuestras fronteras no se resolverá hasta que mínimamente las drogas y el flujo de armas, provisiones comerciales perjudiciales y otras políticas económicas fundamentales que contribuyen a la violencia se aborden y se rectifiquen,” indicó Monseñor Pates en la carta. También notó que líderes de la Iglesia y diplomáticos estadounidenses en cada país acordaron que soluciones a largo plazo solo surgirían de inversiones en educación y trabajos.

“Hemos escuchado con frecuencia durante nuestra visita, de parte de líderes de la Iglesia, así como representantes de la sociedad civil, que la aplicación del Acuerdo de Libre Comercio Centroamericano (CAFTA), y las políticas comerciales similares, en muchos casos ha devastado a los pequeños productores y empresas agrícolas en la región, mientras presionan las condiciones laborales y los salarios”, añadió el Obispo Pates.

Abordando la violencia y drogas, como causas frecuentes de la migración, Monseñor Pates indicó, “Los Estados Unidos deben reconocer nuestras propias contribuciones a esta crisis, y apoyar los programas más eficaces que reducen el uso de drogas aquí en casa. Del mismo modo, la regulación de las exportaciones de armas, junto con la reforma de la justicia penal para enfocar la rehabilitación en lugar de castigo, deben ponerse en práctica por nuestros estados y el gobierno federal”.

El Obispo Pates también hizo notar el impacto destructivo en el medio ambiente y las consecuencias a la salud pública de compañías mineras en América Latina. Y también dijo que el gobierno estadounidense junto a los canadienses, deben someter a las compañías mineras que operan en esas regiones a los mismos estándares de cuidado de la vida humana y el medio ambiente como las compañías que operan en Estados Unidos.

Fuente: http://www.radiohrn.hn/l/noticias/obispo-pates-eeuu-debe-cambiar-las-pol%C3%ADticas-de-comercio-y-econ%C3%B3micas-detener-el-fluido-de

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US must adapt foreign policy to solve migrant crisis, says bishop

By Matt Hadro
Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace.

Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace.

.- The head of the U.S. bishops’ international justice and peace committee implored Secretary of State John Kerry to utilize U.S. foreign policy to address the “root causes” of child migration from Central America.

“The crisis on our borders will not be minimally resolved until drugs and arms flows, harmful trade provisions, and other critical economic policies that contribute to violence are addressed and rectified,” wrote Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines in a July 24 letter to Secretary Kerry.

Bishop Pates wrote the letter after his “solidarity trip” to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, the origin countries of many of the child migrants coming to the U.S.

He outlined the root causes of migration there – violence at home, human and drug trafficking, and lack of economic opportunity – and asked Secretary Kerry to focus more on U.S. investment in education and jobs than on military assistance in order to spur a “long term resolution” to the problems.

The number of unaccompanied child migrants to the U.S. has doubled each year since 2011. An estimated 90,000 will have come by the end of this fiscal year, and in 2015 the number is expected to rise to 145,000, according to U.S. officials.

Bishop Pates blamed the exploitative practices of multi-national mining corporations, the over-militarization of U.S. assistance, and current trade agreements for the economic and social hardships that are driving migration.

“My brother bishops in Central America have urged us to encourage alternatives to militarization of U.S. assistance and instead emphasize economic opportunity,” he wrote. “The United States must recognize our own contributions to this crisis, and support more effective programs that reduce drug usage here at home.”

Current trade policies like the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) are suffocating small businesses in those countries, the bishop continued.

“As an example, U.S. corporations, receiving significant subsidies and other protections from our government, have been able to export corn and other agricultural products to Central America, driving down local prices for these products and forcing rural families off their lands,” he explained.

And U.S. and Canadian mining companies are harming the environment and public health in those countries and forcibly silencing opposition to their practices, he added.

“We heard powerful testimonies, by civil and Church leaders, of brutality and oppression, including torture and murder. Community leaders and representatives of indigenous communities in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, who resisted the unregulated expansion of mining activities in their native lands, have been targeted,” Bishop Pates wrote.

The U.S. government must ensure that that companies abide by the same “standards of care for human life and ecology” abroad as they do in the U.S. and Canada, he said.

All these problems are behind the increase in migration, the bishop underscored, and the U.S. must address them to solve the current crisis in the long-term.

“We must recognize that there are correlations between these harmful trade practices and the deplorable conditions that lead to poverty, increased unemployment (especially among the young), violence, trafficking and the resultant push for migration,” he concluded.

Fuente: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/us-must-adapt-foreign-policy-to-solve-migrant-crisis-says-bishop-15322/

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Border Crisis Spurs AFL-CIO, Honduran Labor Movement to Call for Renewed Attention to Labor Rights Violations in Honduras

Border Crisis Spurs AFL-CIO, Honduran Labor Movement to Call for Renewed Attention to Labor Rights Violations in Honduras

As thousands of unaccompanied minors have arrived at the United States’ southern border in recent weeks, right-wing politicians and activists have used the refugee situation to push their anti-immigrant agendas, roll back protections for potential trafficking victims and stoke xenophobia among the general public by focusing on gang violence and disease.

Republicans have asserted that this new crisis is proof we should continue to deport hardworking people who have been contributing members of our society for years, while ramping up militarized border enforcement. What is striking—and tragic—in the current political debate is that there is such urgency among our politicians to deport children but no urgency at all to protect workers and create decent work in Central America.

This week AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and the three general secretaries of the major labor confederations in Honduras jointly called on U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez and his counterpart in Honduras, Minister of Labor and Social Security Carlos Madero, to address long-standing complaints of violence and workers rights abuses in Honduras.

For more than two years, the U.S. Labor Department has failed to act on a Central America Free Trade Agreement complaint alleging serious violations of workers’ rights by the Honduran government. Under the provisions of CAFTA, the U.S. government must respond to complaints and issue a report on findings within six months, which begins a process to remedy the violations.

Had it acted promptly to address the failures of the Honduran government to protect workers, the U.S. could have already been on the way to solving this problem. Honduras has the highest homicide rate in the world and, more than other Central Americans, Hondurans are leaving their homes to seek a better, safer life. These families face an acute lack of decent work that is exacerbated by violence, which their own government has perpetuated by failing to stem rampant abuse, intimidation and corruption, and failing to protect its citizens’ rights to join together in trade unions and collectively improve their working conditions.

In the 2012 complaint and in additional cases gathered by Honduran unions since, workers and their allies have documented an ongoing crisis in workers’ rights. It is urgent that the Labor Department issues its report so that the U.S. and Honduras can work together to begin to address the widely recognized failures to defend workers’ rights and promote decent work that are key among the root causes of the current refugee situation.

A decade ago, when Congress debated CAFTA, workers were assured it would help countries such as Honduras develop their economies, raise wages and create jobs. Instead, workers continue to struggle to find good jobs and face oppression for exercising their rights. The drug trade thrives because of the lack of meaningful employment. It’s time we learn from our mistakes and stop forcing countries to accept a model of globalization that puts profits before people and does nothing to solve long-term social problems. We need a new sustainable development agenda that delivers equity, social inclusion and decent work—so that migration becomes a choice and workers retain a “right to stay” in their communities. The United States must shift its foreign policy in the region to focus on decent work and the meaningful protection of labor and human rights, or this crisis will surely continue for years to come.

Fuente: http://www.aflcio.org/Blog/Global-Action/Border-Crisis-Spurs-AFL-CIO-Honduran-Labor-Movement-to-Call-for-Renewed-Attention-to-Labor-Rights-Violations-in-Honduras

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