Despite doctors’ warnings about the importance of continuing with preventive measures, as of December 12, Covid in Honduras today is positive in 7 out of 10 cases, in 1,420 samples processed in the last week, in a country that is still trying to recover from the ravages of this pandemic.
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By: Lourdes Ramirez
Before the pandemic, Ondina Ramos expected daily visits from her clients to offer them handbags of all types and sizes, as well as other Christmas accessories and decorations.
“I was happy because I had already registered as a micro-entrepreneur and had registered my venture with the Chamber of Commerce, but everything changed, the clients did not return and the items were damaged due to the confinement. I have seen how many families have left the country for the United States, and I am not lacking in desire.” Ondina expressed with some discouragement.
Ondina’s family finances were affected, «we are only left with debts from which little by little we are getting out.»
See the report here:
Other ravages of the Covid in Honduras today
Ondina’s clients are also beginning to return little by little, and that gives her hope, but with them also comes the invisible enemy, Covid-19.
«My entire body has changed, now I don’t feel the energy to do anything, the doctor told me that I have anxiety and that I’m on the verge of depression, it’s very difficult, all this is chaos and I don’t know where to start, I got infected, even though I had all the vaccines, I felt like I was dying” shares the entrepreneur.
Odeth’s luck was not on her side, she lost her entire business, «Golosinas Odeth » sold her car to go to the United States, her son died of Covid-19 and the employees who were harmed by losing the business ended up suing her.
To migrate or not to migrate
The stories about migrants are endless. Since the pandemic in 2020, the flow of Hondurans seeking to leave the country has increased.
In addition, according to data from the National Institute of Migration, between January 1 and the beginning of August 2022, 72,428 people from different parts of the world entered Honduran territory irregularly, a very significant figure taking into account that, in all of 2021, 17,590 entered in the same way.
In other words, the volume of migrants in transit through Honduras has quadrupled.
According to the Flacso-Honduras Migration Observatory, young people and adolescents from the country’s public education system in cities such as Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, Choloma, Comayagua and Choluteca, of 100% of students in their last year of high school, 56% indicated that when they finished high school they thought about migrating, since they did not see opportunities to join the labor market in Honduras and/or continue with higher education.
the other pandemic
During the pandemic in 2020, more than 103,000 complaints were received by the 911 emergency system.
During the year 2022, as of October, more than 216 women have been murdered.
216 femicides and awaiting a response in the course of investigation, in order to reduce this impunity of the system.
Woman City in San Pedro Sula
More than 2,000 women a month are attending in Ciudad Mujer and it has become a hope for women in a context of violence in 6 locations across the country.
Xiomara Velásquez is the program coordinator at Ciudad Mujer.
“It is a space of opportunity. We seek to strengthen the livelihoods and also the living conditions of women in different areas. We have the area of sexual and reproductive health, where we offer medical health services in the area of gynecology, pediatrics, we also have the area of dentistry, psychology and, of course, general medicine for any woman who goes to Ciudad Mujer and who tells us that he is being a victim of any type of violence”, says Xiomara.
The attention has made it possible to detect situations of vulnerability that children who are accompanied by their mothers are facing, and they have managed to act to stop these abuses in alliance with the Directorate of Children and Family.
Working together with the Government
“In close relationship with DINAF, when a case of violation of rights is detected, we are as a government entity to act ex officio. We have a close relationship with all other government entities because Ciudad Mujer is home to at least 16 government institutions with a liaison within Ciudad Mujer that we are fully willing to manage the case and provide a timely and effective response”, Xiomara mentions.
They are working jointly with different organizations; municipal offices for women, the National Directorate for Children and the Family, and the National Institute for Women.
They are also trying to generate those opportunities so that women can have their economic autonomy, entrepreneurship, finishing high school.
In what way, after Covid19 and still, although the mandatory removal of the mask is already being announced. But there is already more confidence to get here, from the women. During the confinement it was very difficult for them to approach the institution. Now if there is that freedom so that they can mobilize to ask for help.
“We have a close relationship with the Women’s Offices, with the women’s networks. We are trying to bring our service closer to communities because we know that we have two types of users. The users who can come to Ciudad Mujer and who have the means to get around, but we also have users who cannot come”, adds the coordinator.
Unemployed, but resilient
The Covid-19 pandemic generated many negative impacts around the world. Especially in a country like Honduras, considered one of the poorest in Latin America, where the impact on employment was very negative.
Sonia Perdomo, a former Mexican employee, she was fired in 2020.
How was the situation of your dismissal during the pandemic?
«The dismissal for us was something shocking and I have always called it a nightmare because we were laid off in the midst of a pandemic,» says Sonia.
The company where he worked laid off 430 employees, including pregnant women. Men and women with labor relocation orders, which Sonia knows can be considered a clear violation of workers’ rights.
“For us it was a huge impact. Because we were locked up for 6 months, at that time, it was also critical because the company did not pay us wages either, ”says Sonia.
«They fired 430 people, many wanted to make demands, seek help, but necessity forced some of us to accept the dismissal, out of necessity because they had no food in their homes, many were single mothers, they had no way to pay for their houses, the rooms that they rented”, adds Sonia Perdomo.
Letters on the matter
None of the dismissed workers were reinstated.
Two years ago, 5 women filed a lawsuit with the support of a human rights organization. A San Pedro Sula judge ruled in their favor; however the lawsuit is not yet over, as the company appealed the decision.
«The organization that has always supported us is the Organization of the Honduran Women’s Collective, Codemuh,» says Sonia.
In addition to legal help to defend their case, the women have received unconditional support from this organization on mental health issues, since after the dismissals they were affected, since these women also suffered from chronic diseases.
«Yes it is. We were hit hard. In that period I had the problem of dismissal, which was something big for me, because I really was already suffering from illnesses, waiting for a qualification opinion. At that time they rated the damage and gave me 40% of the damage that my body has due to occupational diseases”, says Sonia.
Sonia, in addition to being unemployed in the pandemic and with occupational health problems, had to face losing everything due to the passage of hurricanes ETA and IOTA. During this time she has received the support of the Honduran women’s collective Codemuh.
The experience in Ciudad Mujer
«I always heard about Ciudad Mujer, but I had never gotten here. I came for my daughter, who began to feel bad and told me «mom I feel bad and I want to go see a doctor.» She worked, but had a temporary job so she did not have social security. So I told her: if she wants, let’s go to Ciudad Mujer,» says Sonia.
Sonia accompanied her daughter and waited for her outside while she took her consultation, however. when her daughter heard that there was the possibility of enrolling to finish her studies, she thought of her mother. Since then Sonia resumed her studies and for her «it has been something great.»
«Being here has helped me a lot in the psychological process, because I come to share with my colleagues. The first classes we received were virtual. I started in the seventh grade, and now I am in the ninth grade and it has been a great advance with the support they have given us. They have given me psychological support, medical support, and all of this has come to my benefit. And also to my daughter, because she has come here for a consultation”, says Sonia.
For her, it has been a place of refuge, since it has meant having a space and time for herself and enjoying it, as well as a place to share with other women of different ages.
Sonia Perdomo’s experience in Ciudad Mujer has been a case of success in the purpose of this place, as she was fired during the pandemic, lost everything during emergencies due to ETA and IOTA, but moved on.
It is important that the women realize that, despite all that adversity that Sonia faced, there are always opportunities to continue, to continue forward and overcome all those obstacles.
Incentives that do not arrive for the productive arm of Honduras
The other side of employment in Honduras is that of micro and small businesses, which generate the majority of jobs in Honduras.
These small and micro-entrepreneurs were also directly affected, and especially in the Sula Valley, they are considered the financial arm of the four cardinal points of Honduras.
Despite the fact that the previous government promised incentives to avoid closure and loss of jobs, the reality is different. Now, they hope that the new government will consolidate, and after a year they can feel close.
The reality of small and micro-entrepreneurs
“We lost 120,000 jobs; we are talking about 30,000 micro and small businesses in the Sula Valley alone. Here we have around 200,000 micro and small entrepreneurs.
That, the scourge, is the cause that allows us to be weak now. But we have faith and confidence in ourselves, because despite the crisis caused by the pandemic, the micro business union denies having received incentives to face the effects of loss of jobs and closing of businesses”., says Victorino Carranza, director of GREMIPEH.
According to the leader, no financing was received and «it seems that we were orphans,» he comments, despite the fact that they generate 1 million 800 thousand permanent jobs.
For Víctor, “the legislative power and the executive power should reach a little more into the field of action and not receive false surveys from which the business development centers that were created to strengthen us and have results and what is done with their politicians has done is politicize them.”
A guild that resists
Without access to incentives from the Government, they have been forced to apply for bank loans, which for some is impossible because they do not have the necessary guarantees.
The approaching Christmas season they hope to recover when the population begins to receive the thirteenth salary and upon completing the first year of government, the presidency of Xiomara Castro turns its eyes towards the Sula Valley.
“We are 200,000 micro-entrepreneurs in the Sula Valley sector, we are having a party, last year we could not reach 30,000 jobs from October to February, which are circumstantial, but focused on the students so that they can bring money to their classes. That is a great benefit. Today we are betting on all that, ”he says.
We are going to get 25,000 jobs, because we are hiring, even without having the necessary working capital, nor the necessary demand, because people do not have money in their pockets, they cannot take advantage of the offers we have, affirms Víctor Carranza.
Is the sector recovering?
“Not to recover, but we are selling at cost prices so that there is a movement of capital in the pockets of the Honduran. And that is enough to hope that next January Mrs. Xiomara will execute what is the financing that we are asking for, 300,000 lempiras in each of the production centers of the micro and small business in the Sula Valley” explains Victor. .
The impact on the economy
For the economist Rafael Delgado, the impact of the pandemic was in all sectors and although the three years will be over in a short time, the recession is still felt due to the effects of natural phenomena, in addition to political and social phenomena that always affect and increasingly, to the most vulnerable in our countries.
“The impact has been notorious and very negative for the entire country in all its sectors. But here the most serious aspect of this situation is that natural phenomena are increasingly ruthless in the same way as always. In the most vulnerable sectors and in the poorest sectors of the country,”, says Rafael Delgado.
The impact on education
The economist also comments that when analyzing the situation of public education in the country, it is notorious that the system was practically paralyzed and that there are still problems that persist after the passage of the pandemic.
The most affected, for Delgado, are people with limited resources, who are the ones who mostly go to public education, and who, due to Covid in Honduras today, have not been able to rejoin satisfactorily.
Little access to trade
For Delgado, the Covid in Honduras today leaves a tastelessness when facing the reality that independent merchants and large companies have not been able to sustain jobs.
This is because the confinement harmed consumer access to products but also to resources.
According to the economist, the fall in production, income and employment was resounding. The calculations published by the Central Bank of Honduras and other specialized institutes indicate a drop of up to 10% in 2020.
Less income for Hondurans
“That is not only a number, that means that jobs were lost, that people did not have enough income, in case the income was not the best and with the pandemic household income continued to fall and in many households even that income and those jobs disappeared,» says Delgado.
And although for economists each economic sector of the country was affected, there is a difference since certain sectors were able to recover faster, and even increase their income during the pandemic; and for their part, the most vulnerable sectors of the country were the most affected.
Currently, several companies in the maquiladora industry have announced the closure, leaving some 10,000 workers on the street. Some of the workers believe that it is a strategy to avoid negotiating a new minimum wage. For Rafael Delgado, the factors were external.
Also read: Mexican economy, still with the consequences of Covid – 19.
The economist Rafael Delgado answered some questions about the current panorama of the economy after the passage of Covid in Honduras today
And do you think that these incentives, which the government is always giving to companies, end up in sub-employment for the working population?
R/. Yes, I think there are some misguided incentives. Incentives that have arisen under the cover of politicking, under the cover of corruption, under the cover of all those favors that are given and returned.
And public policy has very rarely been focused exclusively on what it should be, on creating conditions so that, on the one hand, companies can progress. but also so that the population, the country’s homes, can also progress.
So yes, I see that problem. Increasingly, public policy must be focused so that it reaches those most in need.
Those subsidies, those incentives that are often given to companies end up being misused, and the only thing that is generated is extraordinary profit for a small group of investors. A large fiscal hole for the government, and income that is not enough to get out of poverty.
The pandemic left new rich and new poor. The remittance did not stop, but migration also grew.
R/. Exactly. I believe that one of the indicators that has always grown here in the country is very condemnable because government officials always boast of the increase in remittances and that Honduras is going to receive 7,8 billion remittances.
When this should not be a success for the government, but rather it is the result of bad public policies that people leave the country and that later they are sending remittances.
Remittances constitute, today, the best subsidy, if we want to see it that way, for the fight against poverty. There is no income; there is no more effective transfer than remittances.
The remittances go directly to the homes; they go directly to cover the needs that have remained open because in the country there are no conditions for sufficient income.
And what would happen if another pandemic came?
R/. It would be fatal because we are not prepared. Note that I observed the other countries of the world, including countries in the Central American region and Latin America. They suffered under the pandemic, they all suffered, but they found them under a surprise situation, yes.
Read also: Comunicado secretaria de salud
But countries were able to gradually prepare and face the pandemic well. As we had public education, public health on the ground, we could not react to this phenomenon and therefore the great disasters.
A new pandemic would be fatal for the country. It would again mean plunging ourselves into more poverty, more unemployment, more migration, and more social confrontation.
What should this new government do to be able to reduce this underemployment, generate more employment, and especially avoid migration?
R/. We must start by creating a rule of law. That all Hondurans feel attached and that we feel that we must respect the laws of the country. That starts from the President of the Republic to any other citizen.
If there is no respect for the law on the part of the people, wherever they are, we will not be able to build the country; we will not be able to build competitiveness, social peace at all. Then there is the promotion, the appropriate use of those enormous amounts of resources that are diverted through the state.
Hope persists in Honduran business
For Ondina Ramos, she still has the hope of improving her economic conditions «Now that economic experts are forecasting rosy times, we hope so, although we do not feel very optimistic, since everything has become more expensive, and our imported products are no exception and the introduction costs have also increased.
Within the country, basic services have also increased and this makes our products more expensive, which, since they are not essential, are not desired by customers.