- Juan Orlando Hernandez, President of Honduras
- John Negroponte, Chairman of the Board, AS/COA (interviewer)
President Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras spoke to an audience of business leaders, diplomats, and government officials at the 45th Washington Conference on the Americas. According to Hernández, Honduras has made significant progress in several areas, including migration, homicides rates, the fiscal deficit, and tax collection. In particular, he noted that migration of unaccompanied minors fell by 75 percent over the past year. In addition, the homicide rate dropped 20 percent, the fiscal deficit was reduced by 3.5 percent, and tax intake increased 21 percent.
Hernández spoke of a new Honduras—one of “hope and happiness”—despite the fact that there is still much work to be done. The 7th Summit of the Americas represented a key opportunity for a new generation of actors to emerge, coming out of an era marred by violence. Furthermore, Honduras has played a key role in the Central American isthmus, as relations have improved and resources can be combined for economies of scale.
There are several challenges that must still be addressed, said President Hernández. Specifically, these include economic growth, human capital, strengthening democracy, and citizen security. Generating good jobs is a priority for the Hernández administration, with 170,000 jobs created last year, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Of course, Honduras must also focus on “micro-jobs” and social protection for those in need, he said. This includes a focus on health and education, and an emphasis on learning English. The Honduran government has developed several programs addressing these areas, while at the same time focusing on promoting smaller government.
The proposed Alliance for Prosperity would have a great impact on Honduras and the president expressed optimism that it will pass through the U.S. Congress. There is a large Honduran diaspora in the United States that could have an influence in the process. According to Hernández, the Central American region must once again be a priority in the hemisphere, and with a positive upward trend, Honduras can be a regional success story.