Ever since an international anti-corruption commission was installed in Honduras, the country's elite have fought to maintain impunity. This investigation demonstrates why the pushback has been so fierce by uncovering a vast corruption scheme that has drained tens of millions of dollars from government social welfare programs. Implicated in the scheme are hundreds of legislators and government officials, including President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who in 2017 won reelection following an election marred by allegations of fraud and despite a constitutional prohibition against a second term.
The investigation shows how instead of benefiting the country’s poor, much of the government’s social welfare spending has instead been funneled through nonprofits for the personal and political gain of elites. Dozens, if not many more, of nonprofits have been set up for the sole purpose of embezzling public funds, in particular from a trio of development programs controlled by Congress or President Hernandez.
At the root of the migrant caravans that have made more visible than ever the exodus of migrants from Honduras and the region is the corruption that makes development projects ineffectual, repels investment and maintains the country’s status as one of the hemisphere’s poorest.
This investigation shows that despite the arrival of the anti-corruption commission, the country’s elite have little incentive to change and combat corruption in ways that are more than superficial.