Citizenship and corruption
One of the major problems in Honduras is corruption, from national government leaders to the police on the street, from the large corporations to the little businesses. In many ways, I believe that corruption makes the problems of poverty and insecurity worse here in Honduras.
But there are some efforts to alleviate this.
A few groups are trying to mobilize the people to demand transparency and prosecution of corruption. Last year several district attorneys (fiscales) went on a hunger strike and obtained promises of some changes. Some of these later became involved in Movimiento Amplio para la Dignidad y la Justicia (the Broad-Based Movement for Dignity and Justice.) But an attempt was made on the life of one of the district attorneys involved.
However, CARITAS in Honduras is trying to promote civic participation with a number of programs throughout the country, including several in the diocese here. Last Thursday I went to Gracias, Lempira, for part of the second day of a program for members of several municipal Transparency Commissions and councils to help them do analyses so that they can oversee what’s happening in their municipalities.
What I saw was some "hands on" training in analyzing health and education programs as well as projects that receive money for the reduction of poverty. These funds are a result of the debt reduction that Honduras received. As I understand it, some of the funds that would have gone to paying off some debts must now be used to alleviate poverty. The money typically goes to the local municipalities, but there has been a lot of concern about the use of funds.
In the workshop a trainer from the national CARITAS office provided information and training in how one can prepare and write reports to present to the municipal governments. Though the local Transparency Commissions have often denounced lack of transparency in government, it seems that they haven’t really prepared reports and made proposals like those proposed in the workshop.
The people were very enthusiastic and I hope they can really make a difference. What was fascinating was the presence for a short time of the current mayor of Gracias who seems supportive of these efforts.
These are little efforts – but very much needed.