In Honduras, Corruption Kills

In Honduras, Corruption Kills
A protester holds a sign that reads, in Spanish, “Hooray for those who fight,” during a demonstration to demand the resignation of President Juan Orlando Hernandez, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Oct. 24, 2019 (AP photo by Elmer Martinez).

When Hurricanes Eta and Iota crashed through Central America in November, they caused massive devastation and destruction, leaving around 200 people dead and thousands displaced. Economists believe that in some parts of the region, the economic toll of these disasters could be greater than the damage inflicted in Honduras and Nicaragua by Hurricane Mitch in 1998—the deadliest hurricane in Central American history.

Honduras was the worst hit by Eta and Iota. More than 4 million people were affected, around 95,000 of whom were forced to take refuge in shelters, and may not have homes to return to; 85,000 homes were damaged and nearly 6,000 destroyed completely in the storms. Many Hondurans are now also likely to endure severe food insecurity after crops and livelihoods were destroyed, and critical infrastructure damaged or washed away.

These two record-breaking storms were all the more devastating because they struck Honduras amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which by then had killed nearly 3,000 Hondurans and overwhelmed an already precarious health care system. The pandemic has also left many people, most of whom work in the informal sector, unemployed. Honduran economist Alejandro Kaffati told the news agency EFE in September that the poverty rate in the country was already expected to rise from 60 to 70 percent as a result of the pandemic’s economic impact. The percentage of those living in extreme poverty could approach 50 percent, he said.

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