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In Honduras, a 'private cities' problem

Posting in Cities

An idea that first appeared to be progressive may actually set Honduras back hundreds of years.

The concept: the privately-run city, with its own police and tax system.

Honduras president Porfirio Lobo saw the idea as a way to attract foreign investment and create jobs, but the country's top court has ruled that it's unconstitutional because it violates the nation's very sovereignty.

The BBC reports:

"This is great news for the Honduran people. This decision has prevented the country going back into a feudal system that was in place 1,000 years ago," said lawyer Fredin Funez.

The government proposal to create some 20 "special development zones - as the new cities were officially called - was approved by Congress last year.

The inspiration for the project was Singapore, a wealthy southeastern Asian city-state and island situated between Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as Macau and Hong Kong, two special administrative regions controlled by China.

The difference here, of course, is that Honduras -- a Central American nation located between El Salvador and Nicaragua -- is not an island nor a special administrative entity. It's a nation like any other, so carving up its territory to hand over to private interests is the geopolitical equivalent of "selling out."

The fact that Honduras suffers from extreme violence -- its murder rate is the highest in the world -- and an ongoing war between gangs and government makes such a decision appear all the more suspicious and desperate.

Honduras court bans private cities project [BBC]

Photo: Ian Mackenzie/Flickr

— By on October 19, 2012, 1:31 AM PST

Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure