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Honduras, Central America and the Nobel Prize

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The award this month of a Nobel Prize to the American economist Paul Romer re awakens the idea of making poor people productive, by creating so-called “Charter Cities” -independent enclaves with their own rules, operated by their own managers, inside a country.

In 2012, Romer and then-president of Honduras Porfirio Lobo agreed to create a Charter City near the port of Cortes on the Caribbean Coast.

Denounced by the Honduran Supreme Court as neocolonialist, the plan never materialized.

Even without taking into account the nationalist issue, the concept of Charter Cities is complicated.

How would you set up a government, which makes rules on everything from salaries to sales tax, and from housing to homicide?

How would you separate it from the country, which surrounds it?

Would you build a border wall?

If so, how could the city expand or contract?

What would be the civil and democratic rights of the people who live and work there?

On the other hand, if you live in a poor, violent, and corrupt country, and you had the opportunity to live and work in a place which offers a decent wage, on-the-job training, and freedom from robbery and murder, how much would you care that the place is run by a mix of local and foreign managers, or even exclusively by foreigners, as long as they are creative and efficient?

The Nobel committee, for its part, seems interested in the concept.