Building Private Cities in Honduras

Building Private Cities in Honduras

Living in Europe, ‘the old lady’, we are surely often overwhelmed by the history every inch of our beloved cities may recount. We are used to seeing old blocks, narrow streets, churches and monuments all imbued with the past that has gradually shaped them, making them become what they are today, with all the consequent complexities it may carry. So it is no surprise that the Europeans can be quite shocked when seeing cities that spring out of nothing even in the USA, more so in other countries of the world, such as China, where the historical heritage seems of no importance. Thus, hearing that Honduras government has recently approved a master-plan for building three ‘private’ cities has been a complete shock.

The news, reported on several websites, states that Honduras “is set to host one of the world’s most radical neo-liberal economic experiments under a plan to build from scratch the rules, roads and rafters of a ‘charter city’ for foreign investors”. What is described as ‘Silicon Valley’ of Honduras, build with the initial 15million dollars worth of financial support coming from the USA, is supposed to enable a higher standard of living for Hondurans, by means of scientific research, for a country where organized crime and political instability touch extremely high levels. Even if the news may seem quite progressive, given the fact that the official statement proposes a solution for economic growth of the country, it may be a bit more complex than that.

The cities, to be built near Puerto Castilla on the Caribbean coast, are to have their own police, government, laws and tax systems, a solution that may be leading more towards a ‘tax haven’ situation, than that of independent cities like Singapore, Dubai or Hong Kong, which are being discussed as an incredible model of trade and growth. What the opponents rightly fear is the creation of a “state within state”, a modern day enclave of inequality and injustice.

Rujana Rebernjak