Honduras, a Central American nation of 9.1 million people, has had close ties with the United States for many years. The country served as a base for U.S. operations designed to counter Soviet influence in Central America during the 1980s, and it continues to host a U.S. military presence and cooperate on antidrug efforts today. Trade and investment linkages are also longstanding and have grown stronger since the implementation of the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) in 2006.
In recent years, instability in Honduras—including a 2009 coup and significant outflows of migrants and asylum-seekers since 2014—has led U.S. policymakers to focus greater attention on conditions in the country and their implications for the United States. Domestic Situation President Juan Orlando Hernández of the conservative National Party was inaugurated to a second four-year term in January 2018. He lacks legitimacy among many Hondurans, however, due to allegations that his 2017 reelection was unconstitutional and marred by fraud. Hernández’s public standing has been further undermined by a series of corruption scandals that have implicated members of his family, administration, and party, and generated speculation about whether the president has participated in criminal activities.
Honduras has made uneven progress in addressing the country’s considerable challenges since Hernández first took office in 2014. Public prosecutors have begun to combat corruption with the support of the Organization of American States-backed Mission to Support the Fight Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras, but the mission’s mandate is scheduled to expire in January 2020 and Honduran political leaders have expressed little interest in extending it. The country’s finances have also improved, but more than 67% of Hondurans are still living below the national poverty line. The homicide rate has been nearly cut in half, but Honduras remains one of the most violent countries in the world and continues to suffer from persistent human rights abuses and widespread impunity.
In recent years, U.S. policy in Honduras has been guided by the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America, a whole-of-government effort designed to promote economic prosperity, strengthen governance, and improve security in Honduras and the rest of the region. Congress has appropriated nearly $2.6 billion for the strategy since FY2016, at least $498 million of which the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development intended to allocate to Honduras. Much of that assistance may never be delivered, however, as the Trump Administration has begun closing down foreign assistance programs in the region due to the continued northward flow of migrants and asylum-seekers to the United States. Purchase this volume