Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, speaker at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit traveled to the Denmark’s capital in an opulent way. To undertake the long transatlantic journey from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, the president flew in a luxurious jet rented to a company called Vista Jet.
Vista Jet is a company that caters private jet renting services to the 0.001% of the world’s population. Celebrities like Mariah Carey, Beyonce, and David Beckham’s family are among the clients of this exclusive company. Despite being the leader of a poverty-stricken nation, Hernández used the lavish private jet renting services and arrived at Copenhagen on Monday, May 11, 2016.
In a video interview on CNN Money, Vista Jet owner Thomas Flohr, gave the breakdown of costs for renting the luxury jet model Bombardier Global 5000 which is $16,000 USD per hour in the air. The costs for the plane model referred on the CNN Money Interview are from a smaller plane.
The model used by President Hernández on his official visit to Denmark was a larger model, the Bombardier 6000. According to reports from Globo TV, a local news station, the costs for renting this private jet for President Hernández European tour round over $300,000 USD. These costs do not include the transportation of the aircraft from the Island of Martinique to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, this would increase the price tag of the trip with an extra $60,000 USD.
Honduras is under the category of countries that score below 50 out of 100 in the 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index, indicating high levels of public sector corruption. The Corruption Perception Index from Transparency International ranks Honduras on the 112th place out of 168 countries on the global corruption index. The score given to the country is 31 out of 100. Corruption in the Honduran public sector is about much more than lost money, it implicates risking people’s health, and security that end with catastrophic outcomes of lost lives.
In the New York Times Article, An Anti-Corruption Charade in Honduras by Alexander Main, he explains how “protests erupted when a local journalist revealed that millions of dollars of public funds from the country’s health care system had been funneled to the ruling National Party and the election campaign of President Juan Orlando Hernández.” Before becoming Honduran President, Hernández was President of the Chamber of Congress during the Presidency of Porfirio Lobo Sosa (2010-2014).
The former Vice-President of Congress Lena Gutierrez is under trial for the corruption case of the country’s health care system. Gutierrez served as Vice-President during Hernández term in the chamber. She is being accused of crimes against public health for selling drugs made with flour, costing the Honduran Social Security Institute as much as $120 million USD. Allegedly on this corruption case more than 350 million USD in total was embezzled by authorities of the social security institute, as stated before, some of this money was funneled to President Hernández campaign.
During his term in congress when Hernández party (The National Party) had the majority of seats, they approved a combination of laws that might have been another reason why Honduras scored so low on the 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index. In 2011 Congress voted to approve a security tax bill, which applies to bank transactions.
The purpose of this law was to increase funding of security forces to lower the violence rates in the country. Despite this tax, in 2012 the United Nations declared that Honduras was the most violent country in the world with an average of 19 deaths per day. In 2016, more than four years after the security tax implementation, San Pedro Sula dropped one spot on it’s status of the most violent city in the world. Clearly not enough efforts are being made to restore public security in the country. According to Telesur, since 2012 the Honduran government have raised over $260 million USD from the security tax. However, the security tax is not part of the Security and Defense budget, which is the highest in Central America at $458 million USD.
On January 13, 2014, right before Juan Orlando Hernández took power of the executive branch, another controversial law was passed. The Law of Official Secrets and Classification of Public information. According to the Huffington Post article Honduras: The Secrecy Law by Marco Cáceres , “with the new law, the power to release or not to release information to the public will reside with individual institutions of government and their leaders, opening the way for obvious conflicts of interest and thus even greater tendencies for abuse and corruption.”
The Law of Official Secrets and Classification of Public Information contradicts with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) passed by a democratic nation like the United States. The FOIA gives every citizen the right to access information from the federal government. Most recently the Honduran Internal Revenue Service (DEI, Dirección Ejecutiva de Ingresos) was closed by the executive power and now the new institution (SAR, Servicio Administración de Rentas) will be protected by this secrecy law. Honduran contributors have lost the right to audit the government on the taxes they pay.
Today, President Juan Orlando Hernández was one of the speakers of the Copenhagen Fashion Summit. Hernández exposed the topic on “Leading Textiles” from Honduras. La Prensa, a newspaper from Honduras reports that Hernández trip had the purpose to attend the World Textile Industry Conference instead of reporting the real event in his itinerary. La Prensa is not the only media channel in Honduras reporting this half-truth. Honduran Institutions have published the same story as La Prensa on their social media official pages. No official statement from the government has been made regarding this falsehood story divulged to the Honduran public.
The Copenhagen Fashion Summit was first held in 2009 at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Since it’s creation the Summit has put at the center of their agenda the challenge of responsible innovation by “addressing new business models that are required to tackle the growing sustainability challenges facing the planet and our societies.” Denmark, the host of the Copenhagen Fashion Summit holds the 1st place in the world of the 2015 Corruption Perception Index with a score of 91. For this reason, it’s a shame that the event organizers did not research the reality of Honduras and how the President of a third world country boasts in a first world country with luxuries paid most likely by Honduran Taxpayer money.