President Xiomara Castro fulfilled a major campaign promise last week when she signed the decree to repeal the ZEDEs law. We spoke to Honduran Vice Minister for Agrarian Reform, Rafael Alegría, on this important victory for the campesinos and social movements of Honduras.
Rafael is a historic leader of the international peasants movement, La Vía Campesina. Having been at the forefront of years of struggles in Latin America, he’s now a strong anti-imperialist voice with the Partido Libre administration. Kawsachun News’ Camila Escalante sat down with Rafael in Managua, where he and other movement leaders participated in commemorative events marking the 30th anniversary of the founding of La Vía Campesina.
The news just broke on the victory in Honduras with Xiomara’s signing of the decree to overturn the ZEDEs. How do you feel?
Rafael Alegría: Indeed. The project of the Special Development and Employment Zones (ZEDEs) is a colonialist project which, until yesterday, was in violation of the Constitution of the Republic of Honduras and its form of government.
What did the ZEDEs consist of? Well, in 2013 they passed a law and reformed the Constitution of the Republic, in which they granted foreign companies, transnational capital, large amounts of land and territory which could cover many kilometers.
And within that area of land, everything that was within it belonged to those companies that are generally foreign. However, it didn’t stop there. The law gave them the power to create their own autonomous government within those areas. For example it would give a manager, a governor, the power to manage and direct it as a company. It also gave it the power to have its own educational system, its own health system, its own armed force, its own National Police, its own tax collection system.
Well, it was terrible. As Hondurans, we referred to it as ‘a state within another state’ and well, and it undermined the ability to govern and the Constitution.
During the election campaign, President Xiomara committed to repealing the ZEDEs for being unconstitutional and for violating the law and national sovereignty and that’s what happened [on April 25]. The National Congress approved this decree, canceling, eliminating the ZEDEs and Xiomara Castro has already affirmed it, and now the ZEDEs have become history.
We’re recovering the right of sovereignty and we’re rescuing what the Constitution says. Those incorporated companies, which will now definitely have to be located, no longer have that law at their disposal.
Full interview with Vice Minister Rafael Alegría on Honduras’ new administration coming soon.
Watch our 2021 interview on the ZEDEs: