Friday, September 10, 2010

The Republic of Honduras Essay

The Republic of Honduras Essay

The Republic of Honduras is a small country, only slightly larger than Tennessee, and one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere. Despite these factors, Honduras is an incredibly important country to the United States. Its contributions to the U.S. are innumerable, but the two most prominent roles Honduras plays are in the worlds of international trade and U.S. military strategy.

Trade between Honduras and the United States is important to the economies of both nations involved. According to the U.S. State Department, the U.S. is Honduras principal trading partner, “supplying 46% of its imports and purchasing 49% of its exports in 2001”. The estimated total of exports to the U.S. in 2002 is approximately $782,200,000 (“Background Notes”, pg. 7). Honduras major exports include bananas, beef, coffee, citrus, seafood, sugar, timber, textiles, and many metals such as gold, silver, and copper (Metcalfe, pg. 1). Textiles seems to be the largest factor of all in the trade relationship between the U.S. and Honduras. In 2002, Honduran garments alone accounted for more than two billion dollars in exports.

Because of the poor economy of Honduras, labor wages are very low, and many corporations in the United States have taken advantage of these conditions. The companies move down to Honduras, give people factory jobs, and all for a cost much lower than they could in the U.S. These companies, such as Tommy Hilfiger, Sara Lee, Bally, Osh Kosh B’Gosh, Jerzees, Russell, Gap, Wrangler, Bestform, and Hanes take advantage of the poor conditions in order to make more profit (“Garment Trade, pp. 1-3).


The United States is said to encourage U.S. investors to buy into companies that promote Honduran trade and international trade with them. Some of the larger investments in Honduras are fruits, including bananas, melons, and pinapple, tourism, animal feed production, energy generation, fuel distribution, and cigar manufacturing, just to name a few. The U.S. direct investment in Honduras is estimated at $840 million (“Background Note”, p. 7).

In January of this year, the United States initiated discussions for a free trade agreement with several Central American countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The agreement is being called the U.S. - Central America Free Trade Agreement, or U.S. - CAFTA. This contract is designed to eliminate all obstacles in trading between these nations. Not only will the agreement mean more jobs and more opportunities for Honduran workers, it will also mean more and more money for these U.S. companies who decide to move there (“Background Note”, p.7).

Another big factor in the relationship between the U.S. and Honduras is the military. The U.S. virtually created the military in Honduras, helping them form new forces and training the men for their positions. Many of the U.S. and Honduran troops were trained together, and together they continue to work on many projects in the region. They worked together on problems with both El Salvador and Nicaragua, after building the most technologically advanced base in Central America, and using that intelligence to their advantage (“Military Assistance” pp. 1-10).

One of the main contributions of Honduras’ military alliance with the U.S. is the growing control of drug trafficking. A large problem recently has been the flow of drugs from Colombia into the United States. Strategically, the geographic location of Honduras has been a huge benefit in stopping this drug flow. The U.S. military there, along with the Honduran military’s efforts, has resulted in the number of drug seizures in Honduras quadrupling (“Rumsfeld”, p. 2).

The military alliance of these nations is still very apparent. Earlier this month, Secretary of State Colin Powell traveled to Tegucigalpa to discuss and negotiate with Honduran president, Ricardo Maduro about the troops serving in Iraq (“Remarks”, p. 1). When the U.S. asked for help for the Coalition forces in Iraq, Honduras was one of several who sent their men into the battle.

Honduras’ willingness to go into this controversial war alongside the United States was a great indicator that Honduras is a great ally, ready to take on whatever challenges they may face.

Honduras’ participation in the “war on terror” is one of the greatest outpourings of support they possibly could have shown. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says of them, “They are sending half a world away some of their soldiers and MPs, and we’re deeply grateful for that.”

As shown in all of these examples, Honduras is a great asset to the economy and military of the United States. Honduras is now the fourth leading clothing exporter to the U.S. Their two other main exports of coffee and bananas are consumed in nearly every household in the nation. Honduras has helped the U.S. greatly reduce the tremendous problems of drug trafficking, money laundering, terrorism, and illegal migration. The two countries are now fighting side by side in one of the most controversial wars in recent history. These are some of the reasons that Honduras is important to the United States.

In reading the research material, it seemed that the U.S. had much more to offer Honduras than Honduras could ever offer the U.S. After all, the U.S. gives them monetary aid, food aid, military training, and hosts of other things. It becomes quite clear when one stops to ponder the reasoning behind the United States’ generosity to Honduras, that the motivation is most likely that of a very stereotypical idea about the U.S. In all likelihood, the real value of Honduras to the United States is money and military power. By moving businesses down to Central America, the U.S. companies are guaranteed workers who ask for less-than-mediocre wages and the companies’ profits can soar. By helping the military of Honduras through monetary gifts and training, the U.S. ensures themselves an ally in times of war. It’s very beneficial to the U.S. to fund such undertakings because they know they will have someone to turn to if they need it.

In conclusion, Honduras is an important country to the United States, and its relationship with the U.S. is critical. Honduras needs the financial support and jobs provided by the U.S., just as the U.S. needs the money saved by using lower wage workers. Honduras military needed the support of the U.S. troops in training them and funding many of their endeavors. The U.S. is really the benefactor, though. They know that the Hondurans are somewhat obligated because of the aid they have been given, and it presents the perfect opportunity to coax someone into a war. Honduras is important to the United States for two reasons – money and military power.

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