IRIS XIOMARA CASTRO SARMIENTO, President of Honduras, said that in 2022 she addressed the General Assembly as the first female President of her country, adding: “I arose out of resistance in the streets, fighting the coup d’état that overthrew Manuel Zelaya Rosales — a democratically elected President.” Pointing to greater economic growth, rescued public finances — through the cancellation of corrupt trust accounts — and reduced inflation, she said that the progress of her Government has been recognized by financial organizations. Moreover, together with the National Congress, it has repealed the “secrets law” — a corruption instrument of the former regime — along with the law on employment and economic development zones, that has split Honduras in 17 areas shared between 25 economic groups. Further, she has ordered and overseen the budget increase of the social sector to reduce poverty and improve education and health care. She also reported on the return of the “historic” programme for free school enrolment, fuel subsidies and free energy for the poorest.
She recalled that in 2022, the United States accused the former President of Honduras for conspiring and organizing trafficking of thousands of tons of drugs and for leading a criminal organization, involving people from the “underworld” — State authorities, mayors, generals and police chiefs — some of whom have already been convicted. Noting that “these assailants, who hijacked the State” are today conspiring against her Government, she said that they are organized in an “alliance of corrupt politicians and alleged civil society” with the aim of holding back the proposed structural changes. “The Honduran people have given me a robust mandate to combat and dismantle the ‘narco State’ and public-private corruption that plundered and destroyed our institutions,” she stressed, recalling that after 13 years of dictatorship the country’s public debt level has increased sixfold.
She also reported that on 18 September she handed to the Secretary-General an official proposal to establish an international tribunal against corruption and impunity in Honduras to investigate cases of high-impact corruption networks, adding: “This is the only way to clean up a State in which public institutions, the political class and public-private association have been infiltrated by organized crime.” Further, she spotlighted that in 2024 she will assume the pro tempore presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Central American Integration System. Recalling that Latin America is not only the most unequal and poorest of regions, but is also one with the lowest economic growth and is the most technologically backwards, she emphasized: “Only by supporting each other will we be able to move forward.” In this regard, she underscored the importance of promoting integration processes and advancing in customs union as well as social and environmental policies.
“Today the great economic interests are coming face-to-face in Ukraine”, she observed, noting that the poorest countries are the most affected by inflation, food shortages and high fuel prices. Stating that the war in Ukraine must end, she underscored: “We cannot live with the permanent threat of the conflict that might mean the end of our planet.” Also emphasizing the need of terminating sanctions, piracy and confiscating the assets of one nation against the other, she condemned the “longstanding and cruel” blockade against Venezuela and Cuba and demanded the removal of the latter from the list of terrorist organizations.
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