Originally published in El Faro
Invoking the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reiterating the state’s responsibility to provide assistance to the poor, Honduras Solidaria, an emergency response plan ordered by President Juan Orlando Hernández’s executive decree on March 28, is intended to help Hondurans at risk of starvation during the COVID-19 shutdown.
On paper, the sweeping emergency relief program, whose stated objective is “supplying food rations in a basic basket to at least 800,000 Honduran families” affected by the pandemic, marshals the Honduran Armed Forces and the National Police to deliver relief to the country’s most vulnerable. The bolsa solidaria, or “solidarity basket” as it is known, brings rice, coffee, sardines, flour, and hygiene products, among other essentials, to those trapped at home while the virus sweeps the country. It mobilizes 355 million lempiras ($14.2 million USD) to provide supplies to those unable to work to earn money for food and supplies. “I thank God, and the President, for remembering us, the poor people,” one woman said of the aid program in a government press release.
But according to many, the ruling conservative party, Partido Nacional, is both targeting delivery to supporters to expand their political base and neglecting communities with majority support for opposing parties. “The bolsas solidarias are arriving only and exclusively to the communities that are already aligned with the Partido Nacional,” Mario Argeñal, a teacher and TV show host in Danlí, told me over WhatsApp, speaking from his rural home in the El Paraíso Department near the Nicaraguan border.