Marco Cáceres di Iorio

Honduras’ PAC: Nothing But Talk?

The Anti-Corruption Party (PAC) in Honduras yesterday announced that it would soon make known its official views on the performance thus far of the government of President Juan Orlando Hernández. Representative Fátima Mena, who heads the 13-member PAC delegation in the Honduran Congress said that a diverse team of experts is working on a comprehensive study that will offer proposals and solutions to the economic and social crisis, specifically with regard to unemployment, migration, crime and violence, the revitalization of the agricultural sector, incentivizing foreign investment, the shortage of medicines in hospitals, the high level of impunity, and other problems that continue to plague the country.

Mrs. Mena, who is an attorney, stressed that, although the PAC is committed to mounting strong opposition to the ruling National Party, it will not solely focus on criticizing the Hernández administration, but also propose solutions. Excellent. This is a good thing… although it should not be considered as any great revelation. After all, it’s assumed that members of Congress are elected primarily to help solve the country’s problems, rather than criticize and obstruct. That’s their job.

It reminds me of how, on occasion, you see in a newspaper a photograph of the head of Honduras’ Executive Directorate of Revenue (DEI) smiling and shaking hands with the owner of a Honduran firm who has just handed over a check for taxes owed. No, you see, you’re supposed to pay your taxes. It shouldn’t call for a photo op. It shouldn’t be news. It’s the law.

The question for the PAC is, “What’s taking you so long?” The party was formed in 2012, and its 13 members of Congress were elected on November 24, 2013. None of the problems that will be addressed in their study are new; they existed in 2012 and long before. Yet here we are seven months into the new Congress, and there is still no written agenda, no White Paper of specific policy ideas and implementation strategies, no series of analytical studies. If you look at the PAC website, it’s empty of anything of substance. If you look under “Prensa” (Press) and click “Agenda,” there’s nothing except an empty calendar. If you click on “Comunicados” (Press Releases), all you find is a release issued on February 3, 2013 regarding a public protest. If you look under “Media,” all there is are lots of photos of Salvador Nasralla (the PAC founder) posing and smiling with volunteers, and holding babies and hugging people in the streets.

There is nothing about proposed legislation, policy positions, or even speeches delivered or statements submitted. Zilch. Remember, the PAC billed itself as the party that would employ technology to modernize and revolutionize governance in Honduras. Maintaining a well-stocked website isn’t exactly high-tech stuff. It’s basic.

So perhaps all of this can be found on the website of the National Congress. Well, no. If you click on “Conozca Su Diputado” (Get to Know Your Representative) and then click on “Bancada PAC” (PAC Block), what you get is a page with the photo of each of the 13 members, including Fátima Patricia Mena, Ana Joselina Fortín, Anibal Javier Calix, David Armando Reyes, Jaime Enrique Villegas, Kritza Jerlin Pérez, Liberato Madrid Castro, Liliam Yaneth Villatoro, Luis Rene Oliva, Luis Rolando Redondo, Marlene Elizabeth Alvarenga, Rafael Virgilio Padilla, and Walter Alex Banegas.

They’re nice pictures. If you click on each of them, it takes you to another page, which has four main links: “Comisiones” (Committees), “Proyectos” (Projects), “Subsidios” (Subsidies), and “Excusas” (Excuses). Under the one for Committees, it reads, “Mi trabajo en las comissiones del Congreso Nacional” (My work in the committees of the National Congress). Nothing there. Under the one for Projects, it reads, “Todos los proyectos presentados ante el pleno del Congreso Nacional” (All the projects presented before the full National Congress). Nothing there.

In fact, there’s nothing of any substance anywhere for the PAC people in Congress. Now, it may all be as simple as no one is updating the website. Probably there’s nothing under the sections for the representatives of the other parties either. So is itonly an issue of incompetence with regard to website maintenance? Or is it that the PAC has no written positions or proposals? In other words, is it all just talk?

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