Honduras' foreign policy pragmatism
March 17, 2023
Honduras’ decision to recognize China this week, ditching Taiwan, is a foreign policy coup for Beijing, and a blow for the U.S. Biden administration, reports the Associated Press. Honduras followed the steps of Central American neighbors who switched allegiances: El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic. (See Wednesday’s briefs.)
Honduras’ diplomatic shift was spurred by economic concerns. Honduras is seeking more infrastructure investment, reports the Latin America Brief. Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina said the decision by Honduras to switch allegiance was partly because the Honduras was "up to its neck" in financial challenges and debt - and had unsuccessfully sought increased aid from Taiwan and a renegotiation of $600 million debt to the country, reports Reuters.
Don’t “quench your thirst with poison and fall into China’s debt trap,” Taiwan told Honduras this week. In a similar vein, the U.S. State Departnment warned that “the Honduran government should be aware that the PRC (People’s Republic of China) makes many promises that are unfulfilled.” (Guardian)
But, “in the end, it’s a pragmatic move for the Honduran government. China is increasingly a robust regional economic partner, and Honduras does not want to be left behind. The move, for Honduras, is about diversifying its economy and its diplomatic partners as other countries in Central America have done in recent years,” writes Jason Marczak in the Atlantic Council.
Chris Dodd, the U.S. special presidential adviser for the Americas, will travel to Honduras in coming days, reports Reuters.
At least three people died in riots in northeastern Brazil, allegedly ordered by imprisoned gang members. Most of the violence over the past week has been in Rio Grande do Norte state where a couple dozen cities have seen gun attacks on public buildings and arson attacks on buses and gas stations, reports the Associated Press.
The attacks were reportedly ordered from within the state's jails when gang members' requests for televisions, electricity and conjugal visits were turned down, according to the BBC.
While still disturbingly high, homicide figures have improved somewhat in Brazil, but the change “has much more to do with changing criminal dynamics than with the policies of the last president,” explains according to the Wilson Center.
Illegal mining in Brazil’s Yanomami territory has had a catastrophic effect on infant health — the Guardian reports efforts to aid seriously ill children, often suffering from a combination of malnutrition, dehydration, pneumonia, or malaria.
Starlink internet units, connecting to Space X low-orbit satellites, permit people in remote areas of the Amazon to connect to Internet — and proved a boon to illegal miners in Indigenous territories, reports the Associated Press.
More Regional Relations
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva met with his Paraguayan counterpart, Mario Abdo Benítez. Lula spoke of the need to strengthen regional integration through Mercosur and Unasur, and called for a “reorganization” of the latter organization. (Telam)
Lula’s upcoming visit to China “highlights the significant, longstanding commercial and political relationship between the two countries and the prospects for the relationship to expand and assume a more strategic character under the new Lula administration, with significant implications for the United States and the region,” writes Evan Ellis in Global Americans.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador proposed prohibiting medical use of fentanyl in order to reduce the drug’s illicit use, in the midst of rising tensions with the U.S. over illegal flows of the opioid. (El País)
Latin American tech startups are struggling to find banking alternatives after the sudden crash of Silicon Valley Bank, which was one of the few banks that offered them U.S. dollar accounts, a requirement from venture firms, reports Reuters.
In a region that has seen bank runs, the U.S. seemed like a more solid option. And “for many founders across Latin America and other global emerging markets, having accounts at SVB wasn’t simply their best choice; to some, it was the only choice,” reports Rest of World.
The infiltrations of armed groups in the mining strike in Bajo Cauca and in Caquetá have shown the limits of the Petro administration’s security policy, according to La Silla Vacía. (See Tuesday’s post.)
Ten miners reported missing after an explosion caused by accumulated gas in coal mines in central Colombia have been found dead, raising the death toll to 21. (Reuters)
Argentina’s Fernández administration, faced with waning popularity and fiscal problems in an election year, could fall into a “poison pill” variant of the “continuity trap,” writes Eduardo Levy-Yeyati in Americas Quarterly: a “pattern of expenditure and debt driven primarily by the aim to hinder his opponent and likely successor.”
Devastating fires in Argentina’s wetlands have intensified calls for a protection law, but in an election year, conservation efforts are unlikely to obtain political support, reports Diálogo Chino.
The U.N.’s special envoy to Haiti warned that the ongoing training and resources the international community is providing to Haiti’s national police force is not enough to fight increasingly violent gangs — Associated Press.
But “outside intervention” won’t lead to long-term stability in Haiti, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, ahead of a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden next week, in which they are expected to discuss the Haitian interim government’s request for an multilateral security force. “We are now working closely with partners on the ground to enable the Haitian National Police and other institutions to stabilize the country in this very difficult time,” he said. (Global News)
A Miami federal judge has issued a gag order in the assassination case of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, barring defense attorneys from disclosing any evidence to outside parties based on “safety concerns,” reports the Miami Herald.
El Salvador’s diaspora has become a literary juggernaut, the “Salvadoran Renaissance,” according to the Los Angeles Times.