Monday, March 18, 2013

Bad news for Hondurans

Fuel prices are rising. 

The cost of the basic food basket is rising.

The coffee harvest was a bust for many small coffee farmers and for thousands of coffee pickers.

What is a proposal going around Congress to deal with this?

Tax basic food stuffs.

Don’t tax the mining industries more than the 2% they now pay.

Don’t recall the tax breaks for fast food concessions or the maquiladores.

Tax the poor.

Honduras has a 12% sales tax, though most visitors might not know it since it is a value added tax which is included in the price of goods.

But now many food items may be taxed – at 12%. This may be an “austerity measure” suggested or mandated by international financial authorities.

Thus the poor suffer even more as the rich continue to grow richer.

And the Honduran government is complicit in this.

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) at the Latin American Bishops Conference meeting in Brazil in 2007 stated it bluntly:
“We live, apparently, in the most unequal part of the world, which has grown the most yet reduced misery the least. The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers.”
When riots broke out in Argentina in 2002 due to the debt crisis, he identified the problems of the Argentinian economy as “social exclusion, a growing gap between rich and poor, insecurity, corruption, social and family violence, serious deficiencies in the educational system and in public health, the negative consequences of globalization and the tyranny of the markets.”

Yet Honduras President Pepe Lobe, his wife and children are off to Rome to witness the pope's inauguration. Would that he and the Honduran Congress would make real changes so that the poor will begin to flourish.

In the meantime, my hope is that in the parish of Dulce Nombre we can begin to strengthen the ties of solidarity within the poor communities so that they can respond to the crisis which is upon us and which, I fear, will get worse in June and July. 


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