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Entered By: Mark
Entry Date: 2011-03-13 12:09:30
Subject: Beans and Hoes

        Arnol and Reynaldo are still enjoying the near free education received at Destino del Reino. Our friend Rhonda, whom established and oversees the school, is doing everything she can to keep the school funded. Friday came to visit us and caught us up on the news of the school and her home, where she keeps children with similar backgrounds to ours.

       Something else the school does is give every child a good lunch along with chewable vitamins and makes sure they all brush their teeth afterwards, providing toothbrushes and toothpaste. To make lunch, the school buys a lot of basic ingrediants (corn flour, rice, beans) and utilizes mandatory service from parents to prepare meals.

      About 18 months ago, former President "Mel" Zelaya attempted to disolve the democracy here and put himself in league with his long time ally, Hugo Chavez, as lifelong leader of this country. Thankfully congress and the supreme court of Honduras upheld democracy and removed Mel according to the constitutional law of the land. Before his removal, howevr, Zelaya was able to inflict lasting damage to Honduras by raising the minimum wage to unsustainable levels.

      So what does this have to Destino? In raising the minimum wage, manual labor can no longer compete with machines and cheap imports, which this country cannot really afford. Last year bean prices fluctuated a bit as farmers continued to plant as they've done for decades. Towards the end of the year bean prices rose to roughly $1.50/lb when traditionally they've been available for an average $0.50. Not to worry I told people trying to run feeding programs, every farmer in his right mind is going to plant beans and next season the prices will fall to the gutter. Well, the season is past and bean prices are still sky high. Rhonda, in fact, told us that chicken is cheaper than beans. Chicken in Honduras costs about $1.25/lb. Beans are utilized across the world as a cheap substitute for the protein provided by more expensive meat.

      So it certainly seems that the labor intensive method of cultivating beans has been deprecated by labor laws. Tractors can be used to plow and sow the seed, but the terrain in Honduras makes widespread use of tractors unfeasible. Tractors only make sense when there are massive amounts of contiguous land to cultivate. If farms are only an acre or two, the investment in a tractor cannot be recuperated by the quantity of crops produced.

     Trying to gain popular support, Mel Zelaya doomed the livelihoods of many poor Hondurans in his reckless pursuit of power.

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