Showing posts from June, 2013

Tale of Two Cities: Poverty Increases as Honduras Rebounds from Recession

The contrast between small town Copan Ruinas and the big city of Tegucigalpa is quite stark.  After small town life, I joke that you can get anything in Tegucigalpa, because in Copan Ruinas you can get nothing.   Except maybe fresh produce. 

Tegucigalpa, located in a valley between mountains in the central part of Honduras, is upscale and trendy.   The people dress smartly, the homes are luxurious and everywhere you see expensive new  SUV's. The affluence is even more evident in the malls.  Tegucigalpa has at least six to eight malls  with high end merchandise in most of them.   They are comparable to anything in the U.S.  In fact, even middle class American would find some stores too expensive.

A look at GDP statistics (1) helps explain the abundance of wealth seen in Tegucigalpa. In 2008 GDP growth was 4.2%.  The following year 2009 Honduras was in recession with negative growth of -2.1%.   But, consistently, since then, the GDP has grown +2.8% in 2010, +3.6% in 2011 and +3.5% in …

The Work of Padre Roberto Martinez

In the previous newsletter, I described Fr. Roberto's full time job at Aanglidesh, coordinating savings and loans cooperatives.  But after a full week of  work of at least nine hours a day, he faithfully travels to  his small mission churches each Sunday in the rugged mountains around Tegucigalpa.  Until recently, he  was in charge of five churches, which he rotated through each week, visiting one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.   The bishop, however, reduced is work load, so now he can spend more time with his two favorites, Iglesia de la AnnunciaciĆ³n and San Isidro.
His frustration is that he cannot spend more time as a pastor with his churches.  But, unfortunately, his salary, as priest, is so low that unless he works full time at Aanglidesh, he cannot support his family. 
I've travelled with him several times over roads accessible only by a 4x4 pickup, fording rivers and crawling in low gear over steeply inclined rock to reach his remote  churches.  Along the …