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24 novembre 2012

¤ Projet EDEN, EUROVEGAS, BARCELONA WORLD, SHELDON ADELSON, PAUL ROMER, charter cities, ORWELL, NWO, même combat ?

Classé dans : Outils/Bon à savoir,Politique/Societe — uriniglirimirnaglu @ 1 : 41

INVESTISSEMENT: Maurice/Honduras, les deux projets d’accord en suspens

Démission du Pr Paul Romer et des quatre commissaires de la Commission de transparence sur les Zones économiques spéciales honduriennes
ARTICLE PARU DANS LE MAURICIEN | 26 OCTOBRE, 2012 – 02:00 – source : http://www.lemauricien.com/article/investissement-mauricehonduras-les-deux-projets-d%E2%80%99accord-en-suspens
¤ Projet EDEN, EUROVEGAS, BARCELONA WORLD, SHELDON ADELSON, PAUL ROMER, charter cities, ORWELL, NWO, même combat ? dans Outils/Bon à savoir honduras

La création d’une ville modèle privée envisagée par l’État hondurien est abandonnée, si ce n’est définitivement du moins temporairement, pour des raisons de manque de transparence avancées par le Pr Paul Romer, son concepteur, qui a démissionné comme président de la Commission de transparence du projet. Cette décision implique des retombées négatives pour Maurice car elle signifie la mise en veilleuse de deux projets d’accords dont les discussions avec ce pays étaient arrivées à un stade avancé. Ces accords visaient à renforcer l’image de Maurice en tant que centre financier, plateforme d’investissement et de services juridiques respectivement. L’un portait sur une convention de non-double imposition et l’autre sur la possibilité de recourir au système judiciaire mauricien pour la sécurité juridique de cette future zone économique spéciale, en usant des bons offices de la Cour suprême comme instance d’appel.
Le projet de création d’une “Ciudad Modelo” (ville modèle ou encore Charter City) découle d’un amendement à la Constitution adopté en mai 2011 par le parlement hondurien permettant la cession de territoires de l’État à des investisseurs privés qui auraient la charge de financer l’aménagement et de gérer des “villes privées” ayant leurs propres lois, police, système fiscal, usines, et pourvoyant aux habitants volontaires à ce modèle sociétal leurs propres services administratifs, de santé et d’éducation, entre autres. Tout en étant autonomes, ces villes aussi connues comme Régions spéciales de Développement (RED) demeureraient toutefois, selon cette loi, « une partie inaliénable du territoire de l’État hondurien et sont sujettes à la constitution de la République dans tous les thèmes liés à la souveraineté, la Défense nationale et les relations extérieures ».
Ce modèle de fonctionnement s’inspire du concept créé par le Prof Paul Romer, économiste théoricien de la croissance, qui prône la possibilité de changement de règles sociétales, notamment dans des pays confrontés à des dysfonctionnements caractérisés. Le choix de nouvelles règles vise à contourner des représentations politiques et corps intermédiaires, comme par exemple les mouvements syndicaux dont les actions radicales bloqueraient le développement et la création de richesses. Dans un pays tel le Honduras miné par le chômage, la corruption, la grande criminalité et des pratiques mafieuses jusque dans les rangs de la police, les objectifs de créer ces zones économiques spéciales sont de lutter contre la grande pauvreté et l’émigration en masse de la main-d’œuvre locale en favorisant la création d’emplois dans un cadre de vie sain et sécurisé. Deux types de villes modèles privées sont prônées, l’une abritant des usines de transformation, à très grande échelle, de produits d’exportation, et l’autre des enclaves résidentielles pour familles riches recherchant un climat de confiance et de sécurité.
Constitutionnalité
Cependant, le Pr Romer, choisi pour être le garant du projet au Honduras, a démissionné début septembre dernier de la présidence de la Commission de transparence instituée par l’État hondurien et chargée de veiller à la bonne gouvernance de ces zones spéciales. Il avait été nommé, par décret présidentiel, pour y siéger avec quatre autres personnalités de renommée internationale, disposant de pouvoirs étendus de recruter et de licencier des gouverneurs, des juges et autres vérificateurs comptables dans ces RED. Sa démission intervient dans le sillage d’un Memorandum of Understanding signé entre le gouvernement hondurien et un consortium d’affaires, le groupe MGK, le 4 septembre dernier, portant sur la création d’une ville modèle, sans qu’il en ait été informé au préalable, sa demande subséquente à consulter le document de cet accord devant par ailleurs être rejetée. De plus, le Pr Romer et ses pairs commissaires remettent en cause la légalité de la Commission de transparence et celle de leur nomination du fait que le gouvernement hondurien n’a jamais publié à l’Officiel ce décret présidentiel, dans l’attente du verdict d’une plainte logée en Cour contestant la constitutionnalité du cadre légal régissant ces zones spéciales de développement. Cette affaire en justice pourrait durer des années, alors que le retrait du Pr Romer suscite des craintes parmi les investisseurs potentiels.
Les autorités mauriciennes approchées pour servir de plateforme de services pour ce projet, à savoir le Board of Investment et le judiciaire, ont été informées par le Pr Paul Romer de la tournure du dossier. Rappelons que ce dernier avait animé une conférence à Maurice en août 2010 sur les avantages de la création de Charter Cities en Afrique et recommandait dans ce contexte que Maurice se positionne comme plateforme d’investissement sur le continent. Dans un courriel daté du 18 septembre dernier, l’éminent économiste annonce sa décision de couper « all connections with the project in Honduras » et recommande que le gouvernement mauricien prenne ses distances également. Il se réfère à une lettre conjointe adressée au Président Lobo Sosa, le 7 septembre dernier et consultable sur le site web de Charter Cities. Dans cette correspondance, le Pr Romer et ses pairs soulignent que « (….) the conditions have not existed to permit the Transparency Commission to play the role envisioned for this ambitious and important project. »
Le Mauricien n’a pu obtenir une déclaration de la responsable du dossier au BoI, celle-ci étant prise dans une réunion.

07/23/2012 04:43:00 PM EST

Are California’s ‘Charter Cities’ Bankruptcy Prone?

Posted by State Net - source : http://www.lexisnexis.com/community/bankruptcylaw/blogs/bankruptcylawblog/archive/2012/07/23/are-california-s-charter-cities-bankruptcy-prone.aspx

California-Flag dans Politique/SocieteThe last three major California cities to file for bankruptcy or announce plans to do so – including Stockton last month and San Bernardino two weeks ago – have something in common: They are all « charter cities. » They have their own constitutions, or charters, granting them more freedom than non-charter cities to govern their affairs.

A hundred and twenty one of  California’s 482 cities are charters. The first were established in the 1870s when tough economic times and criticism that the state was meddling in city affairs spurred a constitutional revision granting municipalities the charter option. Other states, including Colorado, New Jersey, Ohio and Texas, also offer their cities greater autonomy under what is generally known as « home rule, » but while the courts in those states have sometimes limited the power of home-rule cities, California’s Supreme Court has tended to side with the cities when power disputes with the state have arisen.

Some say the resulting level of independence may be the very cause of charter cities’ fiscal problems. They say charter cities, for instance, aren’t subject to state laws mandating salary limits for elected officials, a fact that was revealed – infamously – two years ago, when news broke that the tiny, working-class city of Bell outside Los Angeles paid its city manager $800,000 a year.

But not all of California’s charter cities are in financial trouble. Two of the largest, Los Angeles and San Francisco, are relatively stable, owing to their large populations, diverse economies and high property-tax rates. And it isn’t just California’s charter cities that are struggling; plenty of non-charter cities are also facing financial difficulties.

Charters can actually give cities more flexibility to cut costs. For example, California’s Supreme Court recently ruled that charter cities don’t have to pay prevailing union rates to contractors on municipal projects funded with local tax dollars.

« When you give a city more control, it can go one of two ways, » said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School Los Angeles and local-government expert. « One way is the leaders are very successful in running that city; the other way is, you get Bell, you get San Bernardino, you get Stockton. »

Lately, however, it seems more charter cities are headed the way of the latter group. Another, Compton, just announced it may have to file for bankruptcy by September (WALL STREET JOURNAL, STATE NET)

The above article is provided by the State Net Capitol Journal. State Net is the nation’s leading source of state legislative and regulatory content for all states within the United States. State Net daily monitors every bill in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the United States Congress – as well as every state agency regulation. Virtually all of the information about individual bills and their progress through legislatures is online within 24 hours of public availability.

If you are a lexis.com subscriber, you can access State Net Bill TrackingState Net Full Text of Bills, or State Net Regulatory Text. If you are interested in learning more about State Net, contact us.

 

Ces « cités modèles » seront régies par leurs propres lois, pour le plus grand bonheur des investisseurs… et de leurs habitants ?

Le Point.fr – Publié le 06/09/2012 à 17:06 – source : http://www.lepoint.fr/monde/et-le-honduras-crea-les-villes-privees-06-09-2012-1503388_24.php

Les investisseurs étrangers régneront sans partage sur les cités privées qui sont sur le point de voir le jour au Honduras (photo d'illustration).Les investisseurs étrangers régneront sans partage sur les cités privées qui sont sur le point de voir le jour au Honduras (photo d’illustration). © Imaginechina / AFP ImageForum

Trois « villes modèles » vont voir le jour au Honduras. Des cités privées, qui selon les propres dires du président, Porfirio Lobo Sosa, ne connaîtront pas la délinquance, et seront érigées « sur un territoire autonome doté d’un meilleur système d’éducation et de santé ». Une utopie des temps modernes ? Rien n’est moins sûr.

Depuis mardi, tout est devenu concret : un mémorandum d’accord a été signé entre le gouvernement du Honduras et des investisseurs privés pour la construction de ces trois villes privées. Ces « régions spéciales de développement » (RED) disposeront chacune de leurs propres lois, tribunaux, police, gouvernement, écoles et autres infrastructures médicales, tout en jouissant d’un système fiscal autonome de celui du reste du pays. Des exceptions à la Constitution approuvées par le gouvernement l’année dernière. Seules les règles qui régissent les relations extérieures subsisteront dans ces zones.

romer_chartercities

City building

Hong Kong in Honduras

An ambitious development project aims to pull a Central American country out of its economic misery. Can it work?

Dec 10th 2011 | from the print edition

source : http://www.economist.com/node/21541392

To Paul Romer, an economics professor at New York University, the principle is simple: take a piece of uninhabited land big enough for a city of several million, govern it by well-tried rules and let those who like the idea move there. The aim is to replicate the success of such places as Hong Kong, not as colonial outposts but as models of development.

Mr Romer is best known for his insights about technology, not as a constitutional theorist. But the project stems naturally from his research, chiefly the “new growth theory” that he helped develop in the 1990s. This adds ideas—particularly technological know-how—to the inputs of land, labour and capital that in traditional economic theory are needed for growth. More recently he has focused on the rules of open science and governance systems, which help people to deal with each other and think up ideas.

Today his main interest is “meta-rules”: how to move from bad rules, which keep people in poverty, to the sort that lets them thrive. These, he reckons, matter just as much as the better-studied questions around technological change. “What types of mechanisms will allow developing countries to copy the rules that work well in the rest of the world?” he asks.

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Vallecito Resists, Satuye Lives! The Garífuna Resistance to Honduras’ Charter Cities - Tuesday, 18 September 2012 18:02

Written by Tim Russo, with Research by Genevieve Roudane and COMPPA

source : http://upsidedownworld.org/main/honduras-archives-46/3869-vallecito-resists-satuye-lives-the-garifuna-resistance-to-honduras-charter-cities

Le Deal

Le 4 décembre 2011, à Tegucigalpa, la commission pour la promotion du partenariat public-privé, COALIANZA, une commission créée par le congrès du Honduras, a signé un contrat de 15 millions de dollars avec un consortium d’investissement conduit par Michael Strong pour lancer la construction de la première ville modèle du Honduras.  Durant la cérémonie de signature, Juan Orlando Hernández, président du congrès du Honduras a proclamé,  “C’est un moment extraordinaire pour notre pays, pour cette génération de  Hondurains et pour la génération de politiciens, universitaires, et conseillers qui ont décidé de regarder vers l’avenir et de ne pas avoir peur du changement.” Carlos Pineda, le président de COALIANZA, a décrit le project comme ayant “le potentiel de transformer le Honduras en un moteur de richesse,” et un “mécanisme de développement appartenant normalement aux pays développés.”[xxiii]

Strong, founder and CEO of NGK, stated that “the future will remember this day as the day that Honduras began developing,” because “we believe this will be one of the most important transformations in the world, through which Honduras will end poverty by creating thousands of jobs.”[xxiv] Strong further emphasized that « this is a collaboration between a diverse group of investors, businesses and experts that aim to eliminate poverty through the creation of wealth in Honduras by means of Special Development Regions. »[xxv]Although the details of the deal are unclear, apparently Canada and South Korea will be the initial investors in the project, which is expected to break ground in Puerto Castilla, on the Trujillo Bay.[xxvi]

There are many sketchy details about the US based consortium NGK, who have estimated that they could create as many as 200,000 jobs for Hondurans over the next couple of years.[xxvii] Even the mainstream media are confused about the name of the consortium; the AP, ABC, The Guardian and The Independent have cited the company as either « NGK » or « MGK. »  Even the highlighted article on the Honduran Congress’s website ran contradictory information about the consortium, citing « MGK » in the headline and title of the article while referring only to « NGK » in the body of the very same article.  Extensive searches for information in regards to either name or any consortium run by Michael Strong return null, leading to a series of doubts as to whether Honduras has signed an 15 million dollar contract with a ghost company.

Furthermore, Paul Romer in his blog on www.chartercities.org wrote on September 7th, “Here at Charter Cities, we’ve received several requests for comment on recent press reports of an agreement with investors to develop the Honduran Special Development Regions (REDs). We learned of these agreements from the media and have no knowledge of their terms, so we’re unable to offer any comment about them.”  Romer concludes by stating that members of the Transparency Commission (the supposed governing apparatus for the Charter City) have written to the Honduran President to clarify the situation.[xxviii] The Transparency Commission was named by the President Porfirio Lobo Sosa in December 2011 and includes Paul Romer, George Akerlof, a Nobel Laureate in Economy and Permanent Resident at the International Monetary Fund, Nancy Birdall, an ex Vice-President at the Inter American Development Bank, Boon-Hwee Ong, an ex-general in the Singapore Armed Forces, and Harry Strachan, the Director Emeritus at Bain & Company (founded by US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and documented to have funneled El Salvadoran death squad funding during the 1980′s Central American civil wars).[xxix]

Nonetheless, Strong maintains that “We will work closely with the governor of the Charter City to assure that the region is equipped with the best police force, the best jurisprudence, legal system and transparency. The main goal of our project is to create the foundation of a safe and prosperous community for Hondurans.”[xxx] Furthermore, it turns out that Strong is not just the CEO of the controversial NGK or MGK consortium, but also the CEO and co-founder of FLOW (Freedom Lights Our World) and « flow-idealism » an organization built on libertarian and Friedmanite economic philosophies and theories.

Strong, who considers himself a leftist, is closely connected to and funded by Whole Foods CEO and FLOW’s other co-founder John Mackey.  He goes so far as to relate the concept of « Free Cities » to an « anarcho-capitalist-paradise » that will be much more efficient in eradicating global poverty than the « euro-socialism » so feared by the « whackos » in the Tea Party.[xxxi] This is how Strong presented his philosophy and project to an elite group of global libertarians in April 2011 at an exclusive resort on Roatán, a Honduran Island in the Caribbean.  Patri Friedman and Mexican Ricardo Valenzuela, CEO of Free Cities Lld were among the special guests.  During his presentation in Roatán last year, titled “Marketing Free Cities as a Mainstream Solution to Global Poverty,” Strong repeated numerous times that one distinguishing factor between he and others that promote similar types of projects is that « We are on the side of the angels, » supposedly emphasizing his humanistic, transcendental and new-ageist traits that represent his particular line of thought among the diverse tangents in the libertarian movement.[xxxii]

Romer-Charter-Cities

Honduras may appeal to London courts

Cases originating in Honduras could end up before privy council in Westminster under complex constitutional agreement

http://chartercities.org/blog/230/the-guardian-on-potential-for-external-appeal-in-honduran-red?commented=1#c000962 :

The Supreme Court of Mauritius recently agreed in principle to serve as a court of appeal for cases from special development regions in Honduras, known locally as La Región Especial de Desarrollo (RED). The governments in Honduras and Mauritius believe that this arrangement would provide credible assurances to potential residents and investors while helping to foster the creation of an independent judiciary in the RED.

By partnering with Honduras, Mauritius intends to bolster its reputation as an international center for legal services—a reputation that is further enhanced by it’s right of appeal to the judicial committee of the privy council (JCPC) in the United Kingdom. While other members of the Commonwealth have been distancing themselves from London’s judicial oversight in recent years, Mauritius sees the connection as a critical asset—an important way to signal to the rest of the world that Mauritius is a safe and accommodating place to do business and raise a family.

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shanghai_Charter-Cities   0

Can 3 new “private cities” create a brighter future for Honduras?

Posted by  on September 11, 2012 in Business News  – source : http://news.co.cr/can-3-new-private-cities-create-a-brighter-future-for-honduras/14287/

3 new private cities in honduras

The Costa Rica Star reported last week on the 3 new cities being developed in Honduras.

Honduras has unveiled a radical free-market plan to establish three “charter cities” in the violence-racked Central American nation.

The government this week signed an agreement with US developers MKG group to begin building the cities – complete with their own governments, laws, courts, police forces and tax systems – from scratch early next year.

The plan’s backers say it is the only way to kick start development in Honduras, which has the world’s worst murder rate – 68 times higher than the UK’s – and where 65 per cent of the 8 million-strong population lives below the poverty line.

However, critics warn that it could mark a return to the dark days in Honduras when US companies controlled the government, owned vast tracts of territory and ordered police to massacre striking workers – an era which prompted political scientists to coin the term “banana republic”.

MKG will initially invest $14m for construction of the first phase of the first city, near Puerto Castilla on the Caribbean coast, which it says will immediately create 5,000 jobs. In total, the company predicts the three cities will lead to 200,000 new jobs.

“The future will remember this day as the day that Honduras began developing,” said MKG Group CEO Mark Strong at the signing ceremony.

Carlos Piñeda, who chairs the Commission to Promote Public-Private Partnerships, added that the deal was a “development instrument typical of first world countries”, and marked the largest foreign direct investment in Honduras in 50 years. The signing follows a constitutional reform last year to permit “Special Administrative Regions” that will attempt to emulate the economic success of Asian city states such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

In recent years, Honduras has attempted to diversify its economy away from bananas and coffee, to include exports of clothing and car parts. But a massive wave of violent crime, triggered by drug cartels and savage street gangs known as “maras”, has stunted economic growth, and even prompted analysts to talk of the country as a failing state.

Opponents claim outsourcing the government’s responsibilities to the private sector will only further undermine the rule of law and weaken Honduras’ democracy, which remains fragile following a 2009 coup. Edmundo Orellana, a former attorney general and member of congress, has warned that the charter cities would allow “multinational corporations” to establish “protectorates” by stealing sovereignty from citizens.

“We are going to see long, eternal queues like we see in Palestine [for people] to go to work in Israel, or queues just to move around,” he told Honduran newspaper La Prensa.

That allegation is likely to strike a nerve in Honduras which, along with neighbouring Guatemala, was dominated by the Standard Fruit Company and United Fruit Company for much of the 20th Century. The two corporate rivals built much of Honduras’ modest infrastructure, including railways to transport banana harvests to Caribbean ports. Yet they have been lambasted for interfering in national politics – including pushing the Eisenhower administration to orchestrate the infamous 1954 coup against Guatemala’s social democratic government, which led to decades of brutal civil war.

MKG has yet to line up its first tenants but expects most will be medium-sized service and manufacturing companies, including textile firms, call centres, data-processing companies and product assembly lines. There are already numerous free trade zones in Mexico and Central America, where assembly lines known as “maquiladoras” piece together cars, computers and other exports, mainly for the US market.

The charter cities’ internal laws would have to comply with international human rights and other legislation. But according to the government, they would have full autonomy in all areas other than foreign and defence policy, national elections and issuing identity documents.

Bright lights: Small city states

Monaco

Monte Carlo casino and Monaco Grand Prix are major tourist draws, but it is the glamorous principality’s advantageous tax regime that cements its reputation as a playground for the wealthy. It operates under a constitutional monarchy.

Republic of Singapore

Since gaining independence from Malaysia in 1965, Singapore has become one of the world’s most prosperous places. Its population is subject to strict social laws but enjoys a high standard of living.

Vatican City

The seat of the Roman Catholic Church’s leadership is the world’s smallest independent state. With a population of about 800, mostly priests and nuns, it has its own system of governance.

Source: Dialogues Series

3-new-private-cities-in-honduras  NA-BR617_CACHAR_G_20120718175705

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Notes: 

[i] El pueblo Garinagu es el nombre original del pueblo garífuna después de haberse mezclado africanos naufragados en San Vincente del Caribe con los pueblos indígenas Arawak y Carib.
[ii] A principios del 2012, el congreso hondureño pasó una resolución la cual prohíbe que se monte más de una persona sobre una motocicleta debido al alto nivel de asesinatos atribuidos a gatilleros montado como pasajeros en motos, quienes rápidamente huyen de sus crímenes.
[iii] La empresa asociativa es la calificación legal de tierras otorgada por el Instituto Nacional Agraria.  No se ha permitido una titulación comunal como cooperativa en los últimos años en Honduras, sobre todo en el Aguan y el departamento de Colón.
[iv] “Piratas en Honduras: De Gregor Macgregor y la República de Poyas, a la Ciudad modelo de Paul Romer” OFRANEH. Julio 18, 2012
[v] John Soluri, Banana Culture: Agriculture, Consumption, and Environmental Change in Honduras and the United States (Austin: University of Texas Press: 2005)
[vi] “Garífuna People of Honduras Begin Land Recovery Campaign on MONDAY August 27th 2012,” by Tio Teo. Being Garífuna
[vii] “Pueblo Garífuna reocupa  tierras usurpadas en Vallecito (Limón)” Comunicado de OFRANEH, 26 de Agosto del 2012.http://albatv.org/Pueblo-Garífuna-reocupa-tierras.html
[viii] “216 años de la muerte de Satuye y la nueva expulsión del pueblo garífuna del Banana Coast (Honduras),” OFRANEH, 14 marzo 2011.
[ix] “216 años de la muerte de Satuye y la nueva expulsión del pueblo garífuna del Banana Coast (Honduras)”, comunicado de OFRANEH del 14 de Marzo 2011
[x] “Who Wants to Buy Honduras?” por Adam Davidson, The New York Times. 8 mayo 2012.http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/magazine/who-wants-to-buy-honduras.html?pagewanted=all
[xi] http://www.cohep.com/l/content/%E2%80%9Chonduras-open-business-el-puente-ideal-para-los-negocios%E2%80%9D
[xii] http://chartercities.org/esp-concept[xiii] “Golpes de estado en Madagascar y Honduras” OFRANEH.http://ofraneh.org/ofraneh/ciudad_modelo_articulos_ingles.html

[xiv] “A Terrible Thing to Waste,” Jack Rosenthal, The New York Times Magazine. 31 julio 2009.http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/02/magazine/02FOB-onlanguage-t.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=%22paul%20romer%22&st=cse
[xv] Nations Office on Drug and Crimes release of its first Global Study on Homicide October 2011
[xvi] Alertas C-Libre 0076-2012, 29-08-12
[xvii] “Fuerzas ocultas orquestan la criminalización de la protesta campesina en Honduras” Giorgio Trucchi, Desinformemonos, Septiembre 2012
[xviii] La pesadilla de las “Ciudades Modelo,” por Giorgio Trucchi, 29 agosto 2012. Voselsoberano.http://voselsoberano.com/v1/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=14128%3Ala-pesadilla-de-las-ciudades-modelo&catid=1%3Anoticias-generales&Itemid=1
[xix] “Ni una revolución, mucho menos una elección revertirá las “Ciudades Modelo” ¡Es ahora o nunca!”http://voselsoberano.com/v1/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=14076:ni-una-revolucion-mucho-menos-una-eleccion-revertira-las-ciudades-modelo-ies-ahora-o-nunca&catid=1:noticias-generales
[xx] La pesadilla de las “Ciudades Modelo,” por Giorgio Trucchi, 29 agosto 2012. Voselsoberano.http://voselsoberano.com/v1/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=14128% Ala-pesadilla-de-las-ciudades-modelo&catid=1%3Anoticias-generales&Itemid=1
[xxi] Alertas C-Libre 0075-2012 05-09-12
[xxii] A coalition of popular movement organizations, true to the goal of reconstructing post-coup Honduras based on the vision of founding a new people’s constitution through broad participation – not through right or left party politics.
[xxiii]“Honduras-Coalianza y empresa NKG de Estados Unidos firman convenio para construir primera Ciudad Modelo”http://www.diariowebcentroamerica.com/region/honduras-coalianza-y-empresa-nkg-de-estados-unidos-firman-convenio-para-construir-primera-ciudad-modelo/
[xxiv]« Can private cities save a nation with world’s worst murder rate? » http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/can-private-cities-save-a-nation-with-worlds-worst-murder-rate-8113966.html
[xxv] “Coalianza  y  empresa  estadounidense  NKG  firman  acuerdo  para  construir  primera  ciudad  modelo  en  Honduras”http://www.centinelaeconomico.com/2012/09/04/coalianza-y-empresa-estadounidense-nkg-firman-acuerdo-para-construir-primera-ciudad-modelo-en-honduras/
[xxvi] Can private cities save a nation with world’s worst murder rate? http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/can-private-cities-save-a-nation-with-worlds-worst-murder-rate-8113966.html
[xxvii]  » Honduras to build new city with its own laws and tax system to attract investors”http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/06/honduras-new-city-laws-investors
[xxviii] http://chartercities.org/blog/231/honduras-update
[xxix] http://www.red.hn/
[xxx] Coalianza  y  empresa  estadounidense  NKG  firman  acuerdo  para  construir  primera  ciudad  modelo  en  Honduras”http://www.centinelaeconomico.com/2012/09/04/coalianza-y-empresa-estadounidense-nkg-firman-acuerdo-para-construir-primera-ciudad-modelo-en-honduras/
[xxxi] http://newmedia.ufm.edu/gsm/index.php/Strongfreecities
[xxxii] ibid
[xxxiii] http://garífunaworld.blogspot.mx/, http://ofraneh.org/ofraneh/216_satuye.html
[xxxiv] Observaciones y recomendaciones de la visita oficial del relator de la ONU, Frank de La Rue http://conexihon.info/noticia/libertad-de-expresi%C3%B3n/honduras-%E2%80%9Cla-impunidad-es-el-mayor-obst%C3%A1culo-para-la-libertad-de
[xxxv] “MP: Decreto de “ciudades modelo” es illegal” http://elheraldo.hn/Secciones-Principales/Pais/MP-Decreto-de-ciudades-modelo-es-ilegal
[xxxvi] http://garífunaworld.blogspot.mx/2008/04/quienes-son-los-garfunas.html

14/09/2012 | News release

THE WORLD’S FIRST CHARTER CITIES IN HONDURAS: From neo-liberalism to neo-colonialism

distributed by noodls on 15/09/2012 00:29 – source : http://www.noodls.com/view/42391791BA3B381149EA7842247704D4A37110B4

By Annie Bird

The Honduran National Congress is currently reviewing the law to geographically define the first four « Charter Cities » in the world, three sites along the Caribbean coast in Garifuna afro-indigenous territory, Trujillo, the Valle de Cuyamel and the Sico-Paulaya Valley, which includes Miskitu indigenous territory.  One is proposed in the Gulf of Fonseca which would include the community of Sacate Grande.

The Charter Cities initiative cedes city-sized sections of Honduras to corporations or foreign governments to govern autonomously, indefinitely.  Investors can make their own laws, build their own police force, administer services and regulate their economy.

On September 4, Michael Strong, representing the MKG Group, signed a memorandum of understanding in the Honduran Congress to establish the world’s first Charter City, a contract is surrounded by confusion and secrecy.  Strong provided no information about the MKG Group, which has no web site or any other readily available public information.

MICHAEL STRONG, PARTI FRIEDMAN AND PETER THIEL MEET PAUL ROMER

In blogs and international forums over the past year, a group of free market Libertarians have made clear their intention to channel their ideological vision into the blueprint outlined by New York University economist Paul Romer.

Strong founded the Free Cities Institute [FCI] to promote charter cities, which in July 2011 co-sponsored with Guatemala’s Francisco Marroquin University [UFM] a forum in the Honduran Island of Roatan.  Though the FCI web site has apparently been taken down, the UFM page on the event featured articles by Patri Friedman, grandson of Milton Friedman.  Friedman and Peter Thiel, the billionaire founder of PayPal, founded the Seasteading Institute in 2008 and Michael Strong is on its Board of Directors.

The Seasteading Institute is dedicated to promoting communities in the sea, free of states.  Friedman late last year resigned as the Seasteading CEO to head the Future Cities Development Corporation, dedicated to developing a Charter City in Honduras.

SAVING THE POOR FROM THEMSELVES

Paul Romer explains that his plan is about starting over, with a clean slate with good laws. The Wall Street Journal’s diehard neoliberal Mary O’Grady noted « What advocate of free markets hasn’t, at one time or another, fantasized about running away to a desert island to start a country where economic liberty would be the law of the land? »

The problem is there are no clean slates.  Honduras does not have untouched expanses of territory awaiting homesteaders to lay claim.  Trujillo, the site most often mentioned for the first Charter City, has long belonged to afro-indigenous Garifuna communities and campesino farmers, and suffers from a long history of attempted usurpation, from the Republic of Poyas to the United Fruit Company.

US filibuster William Walker, after being chased out of Nicaragua, tried to take his thwarted plan to create a US slave state to Roatan, but was captured and executed in Trujillo in 1860.

Romer argues it is necessary to ‘start from scratch,’ in order to create economic opportunities for the impoverished people of the world.  Poverty, he argues, could be ended if impoverished people, and nations, could only let go of the systems of bad laws and social mores that bind them to poverty.

Clearly wealth and poverty are about governance, who makes the rules, who they favor, who must abide by the rules and who is doesn’t have to, who benefits, who doesn’t.

UNLOCKING THE WEALTH IN LAND, ARMED ROBBERY AND MIGUEL FACUSSE

Trujillo’s Garifuna and campesino communities have, over the past 20 years, been preyed upon by violence unleashed as a consequence of a set of rules inspired by one of Michael Strong’s ideological cohorts, and co-author of a book promoting ‘entrepreneurial capitalism,’ Hernando de Soto.

In the heart of the region apparently now proposed as the future home of a Charter City, on August 27 the Garifuna community of Vallecito awaited government officials, who never came, to measure a small portion their land, to which they hold full legal title. The huge majority of their lands has been taken over by businessmen and drug traffickers, mostly, they explain, through violence and fraud. The measurement would be a first step in recovering possession of the land.

The Vallecito community was surrounded by armed bands firing off weapons through the night.  A group of heavily armed paramilitaries snuck into the middle of a Garifuna drumming circle, made their presence known and left, the death threat established with clarity.  The armed bands have continued to circle the community.

The scene was typical of the region since the 1992 Land Modernization Law unleashed paramilitaries against agrarian communities. The law altered the Agrarian Reform Law from the 1960s, which prohibited the resale of land acquired through the agrarian reform program.  Businessmen and drug traffickers, with deep ties to the military intelligence death squads infamous for political killings in the 1980s, used armed bands and other forms of coercion to force Garifuna and campesino communities to sell their land, illegally, and used their political clout to maintain control of the land despite the illegal title transfers.

‘Unlocking the wealth’ held in land through the promotion of land markets was a principal of the « Washington Consensus » ideologically promulgated by Hernando de Soto.  The Washington Consensus also involved shifting access to financing from the public to the private sector.  The single largest benefactor in Honduras of this shift in the early 1990s was clearly African palm oil businessman Miguel Facusse, who not only used fraud and violence to gain control of land in the Aguan region that Trujillo forms part of, but used political connections to generate even more wealth through access to loans from public entities including the WB (World Bank) and IDB (Interamerican Development Bank).

MAKING THE RULES AND TWO MILITARY COUPS

The written and unwritten rules of Honduras have been set into place over generations by the constant use of force, both violence and other forms of coercion, by the wealthy sectors in Honduras, and by the wealthy nations and corporations of the world.

A recent example is the June 2009 military coup that set the political stage for the Constitutional Amendment that provides the framework for Charter Cities. The on-going usurpation of Garifuna lands in Vallecito is another expression.

The Charter Cities proposal was linked to a government turnover in Madagascar in 2009, this one the consequence of massive protests.  Paul Romer first traveled to Madagascar in July 2008, to propose a Charter City, but the deal was left in the air.  The same month, the South Korean transnational Daewoo announced it struck a deal to cultivate 1.3 million hectares of farmland for free, over 99 years.  In early December 2008, Daewoo announced the deal was uncertain as a contract had not been signed. In late December 2008, Paul Romer traveled to Madagascar and met with President Marc Ravalomanana, who soon announced the intention of creating Charter Cities in Madagascar.

By the end of January 2009, citizens of Madagascar – outraged by these proposals – took to the streets, the military took control and President Ravalomanana left the county.  Within a few months both proposals had been scrapped.  Though not explicitly linked the Daewoo deal and Charter Cities, the timing leads to the conclusion they were related.

CORPORATE WELFARE FOR THE CHARTER CITIES

Daewoo is a subsidiary of the South Korean transnational POSCO.  Originally a steel corporation, it is today a diversified conglomerate which owns corporations involved in everything from machinery and automobile production to food and biofuel production, mining, textiles, etc.  In May 2011, POSCO signed a contract with the Honduran government to carry out initial studies for infrastructure development for the Model Cities.

In March 2011, Honduran President Porfirio Lobo attended a ceremony to place the first brick in a cruise ship dock in Trujillo, there he announced that the IDB would finance studies for the construction of an airport and port for a Charter City.

The cruise ship dock is a venture of Life Vision Properties, a Canadian investment fund (with a Cayman Island shell corporation) promoted by Canada’s « Porn King » Randy Jorgenson and Porfirio Lobo’s brother, Ramon Lobo.  The cruise ship dock and mega-tourism project associated with it are annihilating the Garifuna community of Rio Negro, which has literally been bulldozed away, and the families were resettled in a « model community » outside the neighboring Garifuna community of Cristales.

A clear violation of international law regarding indigenous territory and the obligation to gain consent for development projects carried out on indigenous land, community members who opposed displacement have been threatened, particularly Garifuna journalists with the community radio.  In December 2011, families from Rio Negro presented a complaint against Randy Jorgenson in the Honduran justice system.

DEMOCRACY AND LIBERTARIANISM INCOMPATIBLE, VOTING WITH YOUR FEET

The proximity of coups and international law violations to the Charter Cities initiative probably does not faze the Libertarian cabal promoting them. They have been clear, they have their differences with democracy, and the plans for governance of model cities reflect this.

A recurring theme in interviews with Romer is the concept of ‘voting with your feet,’ as described in a July 2010 Atlantic Magazine article. « Rather than getting a vote at the ballot box, Romer is saying, the residents of a charter city would have to vote with their feet. Their leaders would be accountable – but only to the rich voters in the country that appointed them. »

The article continues, « The real test for Romer’s attitude toward democracy is not whether it conforms to Western ideals, but whether it appeals to the poor people whom Western aid agencies claim to be serving. And on this score, the answer is clear. In fact, you could say Romer’s assertion – that voting with your feet can be a palatable alternative to casting a ballot – already has 214 million adherents, for that is the number of people who have chosen to leave their home countries and settle as migrants in places where they have no political vote. »

In other words, people’s political participation in the Model Cities would be limited to deciding whether or not they would live there, an option that Atlantic Magazine explains 214 million people have « chosen » in deciding to live without a vote outside of their home nation.

This argument, that the hundreds of millions of immigrants who do not benefit from the rights of citizenship where they live is somehow an option they freely « choose » ignores a multitude of elements of coercion, repression, war, poverty, discrimination, etcetera, involved in many such decisions.

Patri Friedman wrote, in an April 6, 2009, Cato Institute blog post, « Democracy is the current industry standard political system, but unfortunately it is ill-suited for a libertarian state. » An appropriate precedent to his grandson’s declared belief in the incompatibility of democracy and Libertarian ideals, Milton Friedman was close to Chilean dictator -  and darling of free marketers – General Augusto Pinochet.

Peter Thiel wrote, just a few days later, on April 13, 2009, also in the Libertarian Cato Institute’s blog, « Most importantly, I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible. »  He later recanted the statement; it is, after all, an impetuous statement from one of the world’s most wealthy and powerful men.

AN ‘INTELLIGENCE’ STATE

Billionaire Peter Thiel was a founder of PayPal and the financier that made Facebook possible, retaining 10% of its ownership.  He then went on to create Palantir in 2004 with joint start-up capital from the CIA-owned technology venture capital firm In-Q-Tel.

Palantir, named for the all-seeing stone in « Lord of the Rings, » is a technology company that – according to a November 22, 2011, Businessweek article – is « tying together surveillance video outside a drugstore with credit-card transactions, cell-phone call records, e-mails, airplane travel records, and Web search information, » to generate dossiers on people of interest, and is used by the CIA, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security among many other government and private sector clients.

As if the concept of the ultimate ‘big brother’ technology controlled by a man who explained that democracy is not in line with his ideals is not disturbing enough, Thiel is also on the steering committee of the Bilderberg Meetings, annual meetings which since 1954 have brought together leading businessmen, politicians, academics, and journalists from Western European nations, Canada and the US for off the record discussions about the direction of the world.

HONDURANS CHALLENGE THE MODEL CITIES CONTRACT

As the Garifuna communities, whose territory is slotted to house the worlds’ first Charter City, vocally oppose the project, in Honduras’ capital of Tegucigalpa, there was a strong reaction.  Xiomara Castro, Honduran presidential candidate for the new LIBRE party, leading the race in some polls, issued a statement: « The law imposed is inconsistent with the concept of sovereignty, independence in equal opportunities for domestic and foreign investment. Those who initiate projects under this unconstitutional ‘model cities’ scheme are risking the loss of their investment…  We invite the President of the National Congress and the National Party, based on Article 5 of the Constitution which regulates the Plebiscite and Referendum, to submit the Law of « Model Cities » to a referendum and let it be the people who decide. »

Since the September 4 contract was signed by Michael Strong a series of complaints have been presented to the Supreme Court arguing the contract is unconstitutional. On September 12 lawyers presented complaints of treason against the congressional representatives who voted for the Constitutional Amendment and Statute that established the Charter Cities.

On February 15, 2011, the Constitutional Reform that established the framework for Charter Cities in Honduras, dubbed Special Development Regions [RED], was published into law, and on August 23, 2011 the statutes that further defined the creation and administration of the REDs was published.

According to Jari Dixon Herrera, Oscar Humberto Cruz and four other lawyers representing the Honduran Jurists Association, the Charter Cities laws are unconstitutional.  They presented a legal challenge to that effect on October 18, 2011 arguing the amendment and statute were unconstitutional.  The lawyers argue that permitting foreign investors to enjoy territorial and administrative autonomy implies a separation of a section of the national territory, and violates the sovereignty of the nation since the people of Honduras would no longer exercise authority over the area circumscribed as a RED.  They also argue that the initiative violates fundamental rights of Honduran citizens recognized by the Honduran constitution and international treaties, including the right to equality, no expatriation, free circulation, the public tutelage of labor relations and the right to not be obligated to change residence.

On January 12, 2012 the Honduran Attorney General’s office gave its opinion to the Supreme Court, that the reform and statutes do violate the constitution and should be overruled.

THE TRANSPARENCY COMMISSION

Five ‘Pro Tempore’ Transparency Commission members were charged by acting Honduran President Porfirio Lobo with overseeing the creation of the initial Charter Cities on December 6, 2012.  However, in an interview in The Guardian, Romer said they were not notified beforehand that the September 4 contract would be signed.  Implying he was concerned about the constitutional challenge, Romer explained he and the other commissioners had backed away from the Commission.  In a September 7 letter, the Commissioners told Lobo they were « relieving him of the obligation » to formalize the commission by publishing into law the December 6, 2011 presidential decree that established the Commission.

The Commission is chaired by Paul Romer, Economics Professor at NYU, and includes Harry Strachan, Nancy Birdsall, George Akerlof and Ong Boon Hwee.  They said they were still fully supportive of the proposal and willing to come back to the Commission as soon as soon as « the obstacles to the full establishment of the institutional framework of the RED have been resolved. »

George Akerlof created the field of ‘identity economics’, exploring how social psychology affects economics, arguing that social norms linked to a person’s identity impact their behavior within an economy, a vision shared by Romer, which in effect presents poverty as a cultural problem.  The key to prosperity is eliminating cultures or cultural norms that generate poverty.

Nancy Birdsall was an Executive Vice President of the IDB when the IDB aggressively promoted Plan Puebla Panama. She is also a former Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and currently is president of the Center for Global Development.  She advocates for economic reforms within the framework of the ‘Washington Consensus’ a set of neoliberal economic policies.

Ong Boon Hwee, Brigadier General of the Singapore Army who specialized in crisis management, currently directs two different consulting firms: Beyond Horizon Consulting (BHC), which describes its activities as people development, strategic thinking and change management, and Temasek Management Services (TMS).  He also owns Stratton Management Company (SMC) which manages his joint investments in a range of sectors, particularly renewable energy, and is the former CEO of Singapore Power (SP).

While  Romer, Birdsall and Akerloff provide the Commission with a theoretical framework, Birdsall and Hwee undoubtedly also provide important connections to financial backers.  Hwee’s inclusion in the Commission gives an important insight into the vision for the Honduras RED. He has been a top ranking military officer in Singpore, widely described as an authoritarian police state.

Harry Strachan appears to be key to on the ground implementation.  Over the past two decades, he has networked Central American oligarchs, constructing financial and political alliances, pushing Central American wealth management from family centered corporations into shared investment funds, and building up networks of strategic political influence.

A partner in the Boston financial advising firm Bain & Company, Harry Strachan started Central America’s leading financial management firm, coordinating regional mergers and acquisitions.  He was Rector of the leading Central American Business school INCAE. When he first moved to Costa Rica in 1992 he dedicated much of his time to promoting the Central America Free Trade Initiative [CAFTA] that unified Central America’s mega-wealthy through a platform he helped to found, the US-AID-funded Caribbean Central America Alliance (C-CAA) which coordinated forums where Strachan presented at panel discussions with former Honduran president Ricardo Maduro.  After CAFTA was ratified across Central America, in 2007 he founded the Central America Leadership Initiative, a networking platform.

HARRY STRACHAN -MITT ROMNEY’S SALVADORAN DEATH SQUAD CONNECTION

In 1984, it was Strachan that connected Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney with El Salvadoran investors at same time they financed the ARENA party with its associated death squads. According to Huffington Post, the Salvadoran group provided a significant 40% of the start-up capital for a spin-off of Bain & Company, Bain Capital, launched in 1985 by Mitt Romney. The Salvadorans have been loyal patrons of Bain capital ever since.

Romney explains that his Salvadoran customers not only facilitated his massive fortune but he also learned from them: « These friends didn’t just help me; they taught me. »  Romney describes as friends his initial investors, including the Salaverria, Poma, de Sola and Dueñas families who « were also at the time financing, either directly or through political parties, death squads in El Salvador. »

THE CENTRAL AMERICA MATCHMAKER – TRANSNATIONAL MERGERS, MARRIAGES, OLIGARCHS AND POLITICIANS

In 1992, Strachan moved to his birthplace, Costa Rica, where he had grown up in a Presbyterian missionary family.  In Costa Rica, Strachan founded Mesoamerica Investments, which INCAE’s website describes as « the leading regional mergers and acquisitions firm with strategic consulting and private equity branches, » while the firm’s own website emphasizes its ongoing relationship to Bain Capital and Bain & Company.

Central American wealth and political power is coordinated through family dynasties, powerful oligarch clans that control different sectors of the economy in different countries – as Strachan describes them, family businesses.  The trend over the past two decade has been to diversify, moving beyond financial alliances through marriages, to the creation of regional capital investment funds and corporations jointly owned by many families.

The Poma clan, whose patriarch Ricardo Poma is described by Harry Strachan as one of his best friends, is one of Central America’s wealthiest families and is an investor in Bain Capital. Both Poma and Strachan are close to former Honduran president Ricardo Maduro. Maduros’ company Inversiones la Paz manages Poma’s Grupo Roble and Grupo Poma’s Honduran subsidiarias.

The idea for the Charter City was reportedly presented to current Honduran leader Porfirio Lobo through Xavier Arguello Carazo, private secretary to the President of Honduras during Ricardo Maduro’s term.  Maduro is on the Presidential Model City Advisory Committee.

MIGUEL FACUSSE

In the map of oligarchic fiefdoms that overlays Central America, the areas proposed as the home of the future Model City / Charter City is controlled by palm oil magnates, principally Honduran Miguel Facusse who gained control of the territory through violence and fraud, taking wealth from the State and its citizens, and using public funds from international development banks and national banks.

Though Facusse has never been associated with the Charter Cities in any public way, it is impossible to escape the fact that he has territorial control over much of the area surrounding proposed Charter Cities.  His hold on much of that territory is challenged by campesino and Garifuna communities who never accepted the transfer of their lands to his control, and the control of a set of large landholders who appear to coordinate with Facusse, sharing security forces.

While the exact location of the first Charter City is unclear, there is virtually nowhere in Honduras that land conflicts of this nature do not exist, the legacy of the Washington Consensus’ land modernization.  It looks as though the free marketeers and Libertarians may be starting the world’s first Charter City, with authoritarian governance, facilitated by a military coup, coordinated using political sway with business partners, using public funds from the IDB for infrastructure plans, and built on land stolen from indigenous communities, small farmers and the state of Honduras.

The Model (Charter) Cities proposal is hardly a new set of transparent rules, it follows the tradition of imposing laws through networks of power controlled by wealthy nations – neo-colonialism.

Annie Bird, co-director Rights Action

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TO MAKE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS (in Canada and the U.S.)

for OFRANEH (Organization of Garifuna and Black peoples in Honduras), working in defense of community development, the environment, and their rights and the rule of law, make check payable to « Rights Action » and mail to:

UNITED STATES:  Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887

CANADA:  (Box 552) 351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8

CREDIT-CARD DONATIONS can be made (in Canada and U.S.):http://www.rightsaction.org/tax-deductible-donations

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