Thursday, September 17, 2009

$31.5 million spent on Fourth Ballot Project While Children Were Starving

600 million lempiras or what is the equivelent of $31.5 million was spent on an illegal project while teachers, municipal workers, and nurses did not get paid for months nor did they receive the promised raise in their salaries. 

In November of last year major strikes by teachers siezed Honduras and the education system was paralized as it has been so many times before.  Many times parents such as myself have supported teachers in their demands to be paid, but this time they are all alone..parents do not support their strike for political motives.

What I have to reflect on now that all of this money was spent is where the money went and how it was spent and how it could have been used more effectively instead of spending it on a project that was declared illegal several times before it was implemented. All the while 20% of the population languishes in misery and hunger. That represents 1.4 million people or approximately 350,000 families of 4. All of these families could have received assistence with the money that was spent on the fourth ballot project.

We know that the money included multimillions of lempiras in payoffs (kickbacks) to reporters in exchange for support of the illegal project.  One reporter received 22 million lempiras and another received 32 million lempiras to support the illegal project.  This amounts to a total of nearly $3 million.  The amount of money spent could have finished paving every neighborhood in innercity San Pedro Sula.  It also could have fed 36,000 families for a week and that is just a fraction of what was spent.

The leftover amount could have been used for many things instead of this illegal project. I believe that those involved in the waste of public funds in such a fashion should have their property and bank accounts seized for their illegal actions and those who can be implicated should face jail terms for the kickbacks and payoffs that have occurred in massive amounts. 

What is real shameful is that 600 million lempiras could feed 400,000 families for a week.  This money could have been spent on reinforcement of development projects such as upgrades to the health system.  Implimentation of a food for the hungry project so that at the very least the most vunerable could recieve basic supplies such as beans and rice to eat during the months of June and July when production is at a standstill and food is scarce.  600 million could have been used to help rebuild after the massive earthquake that struck in May and left many still scrambling to repair the damage including myself.  I have cracks in my walls that are traveling like cracked glass.  The person we have hired to do our repairs has found a windfall in our neighbors and we have to regulate ourselves to allow him to work with us one day and someone else the next because people you can trust in your home are few and far between and I have used him for many projects that he has completed beautifully.  For him this is great, but what about the people who do not have the money to complete the repairs? I remember not days after the earthquake stole our well being(yes people still think the earth moves beneath them and we fear sleep because most of us think another one is going to strike that will bring the walls down on top of us).  The days immediately after the earthquake revealed serious damage, houses collapsed, people were killed, and our courthouse to this day lays in ruins with no sign of it being repaired in the near future.  It would take about 32 million or so to repair the courthouse to standard and probably about another 5 million to persue those who did such horrid work that caused it to buckle in the tremble in the first place. 
Most buildings that are well built in Honduras are fairly resistent to quakes but are technically built to resist hurricanes not quakes.  Wood is only used close to the coast and in the poorest neighborhoods.  Wood is not a practical material in Honduras because of termites and carpenter ants.  Our home is completely wood free except furniture and cabinets. 

Can you imagine the social change that 600 million lempiras could initiate? Think about can a person profess to love the poor and spend so much money in something that people cannot eat or live in? What about the project of the houses that still stands empty to this day considered uninhabitable by the environmentalists because of modifications that are needed to protect the river below from environmental harm...couldn´t this money have been used to fix this neighborhood and occupy the homes by those who need them the most? What a horrible waste of money, not just a sin, but a crime against the poor of Honduras.  What will it take to have a president who will really initiate social change?

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