The Obama administration is about to make the largest gift to state and local governments ever of millions of dollars of U.S. aid to Honduras.
The $787 million will go to Honduras’ government, with much of it going to public schools, health programs for the poor and to the nation’s police force, which is considered the nation’s most effective.
The money was requested by U.S. president Barack Obama on June 15, but the recipient has not been determined yet.
“This is good news for the Hondurans who have been hit the hardest by U.S. policies and those who have been victimized by them,” said Laura Meckler, a director at Human Rights Watch. “Honduras needs this funding now more than ever.”
While the government has not yet made the final decision, Congress will likely approve the money once details are worked out by the president.
This is the first time the United States has made an such a large amount of aid to the nation. During Reagan’s presidency, the U.S. also gave $4.6 billion in cash and goods to Honduras in three separate funds. But both of those projects were later scrapped by Reagan.
The latest administration decision will also benefit a group of indigenous people who also live in Honduras and, since 1994, have fought for their self-determination. They were granted autonomy over their native land and sovereignty over their language and culture.
The government said an internal report on the money was “confident.”
Bryan Smith with the U.S Mission to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said the cash would help meet key needs in the troubled Central American nation. He said the money could also provide a lifeline for other Central American nations facing pressure from a violent drug trade, which has cost Honduras over $50 billion in the last decade.
But Meckler said, “This is yet another example of President Obama’s disdain for democracy in Honduras. President Obama must not be congratulated for giving a handout to the Honduran government to keep its citizens in poverty.”
“Honduras faces an urgent need for emergency food and healthcare. This latest disaster will bring a severe threat to the people who have been starved for so long, while more than 100,000 have been killed in the struggle to end their misery.”
The State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment, including the specifics of the humanitarian aid that would be made available.
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