Honduras Country Report
President Juan Orlando Hernández's began a second term in office January 2018 after disputed elections in which opposition groups alleged ballot count irregularities through a month of protests. Although reconciliation talks between the president and opposition parties are slow, Hernández has pushed ahead with his 20/20 economic development plan including prioritisation of natural resource development and free trade zones. This has led to a small increase in private investment and consumption levels in 2018, although GDP growth has slowed to 3.7% from 4.8% in 2017. The country's elevated homicide rate remains elevated at 42.8 per 100,000 in 2017.
President Juan Orlando Hernández began his second term in January 2018 after contested elections in November 2017 that provoked nationwide protests. Hernández has pursued legislative reforms and some cosmetic changes to anti-corruption mechanisms in a bid to attract external finance to the country. Investment incentives include tax exemptions or waivers and streamlined bureaucratic procedures. However, corruption remains a serious issue, affecting many areas of private sector interaction with the state. Infrastructure is poor and long traffic delays can affect cargo delivery schedules, especially near customs processing points. Investors face potential legal and reputational risks in the resource development sector.
There are no known terrorist groups operating in Honduras. However, changes under Honduran law currently define street gangs as terrorists, which has permitted long custodial sentences for extortion and intimidation crimes. Criminal groups demand regular payment of a "war tax" from businesses and individuals and use targeted assassinations to enforce demands. Since 2010, there have been allegations that paramilitary death squads have resumed operations in Honduras, although this has been denied by the head of the Honduran armed forces. Nevertheless, the country has a history of extrajudicial killings directed against "undesirables" including environmental activists and members of the LGBT community.
Political disputes in the aftermath of the contested November 2017 presidential election are unlikely to escalate. Ongoing border disputes with El Salvador and Nicaragua include disagreements over the demarcations of territorial water boundaries in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Fonseca, but military retaliations are unlikely. The military's primary focus is on internal security, tackling narco-trafficking and organised gangs.
Politically motivated demonstrations in major cities have decreased since the new government took office in January 2018. However, elevated violence and injury risks during protests and other demonstrations continue as police mobilise against protests with tear gas, batons, and rubber bullets to contain crowds and avoid escalations. Sectors of persistent unrest include resource extraction and infrastructure development sectors, where local activist groups countering hydro, solar, and mining activities use stones and other projectiles against police units armed with tear gas and water cannons that can sometimes result in private property damage and operational delays.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for travelers over one year of age arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever (YFV) transmission (with the exception of Panama) and for travelers who have been in transit for >12 hours in an airport located in a country with risk of YFV transmission.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - chloroquine (sometimes marketed as Nivaquine).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Honduras (along with Myanmar and Haiti) has been the country most devastated by natural disasters over the past 20 years in terms of economic and human loss. Situational updates are available in Spanish on the website of the Honduran national civil protection (COPECO) in the event of storms or other natural disasters.
The rainy season typically lasts from May/June through October/November. During this period, floods, landslides, and powerful storms can occur, often damaging infrastructure and causing subsequent travel disruptions.
The rainy season also coincides with the North Atlantic Hurricane season. Hurricanes, tropical storms, and storm remnants can hit the country during this period, with storms particularly common in August through October. In October 1998, Hurricane Mitch, one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit the region, left 7000 people dead and caused severe material damage.
There is also a risk of earthquakes. A 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck in May 2009, causing property damage and several deaths.
Forest fires can strike during the dry season.
Driving conditions in Honduras are concerning due to aggressive driving habits, lax vehicle safety standards, and poor infrastructure (roads are often damaged by abundant rain, floods, and landslides). As such, vehicle collisions are relatively common.
Travel by car and bus after dark is therefore strongly advised against. As inter-city buses are often targeted by criminals, it is advisable to travel by air when possible for any long-distance journeys.
Due to risks associated with unlicensed taxis, it is advisable to only use "Radio Taxis" in Tegucigalpa and "Radio Taxi Barandillas" taxis in San Pedro Sula. In other towns and cities, choose taxis from taxi stations outside hotels and shopping centers, verifying that the driver's ID is displayed on the right-hand side of the windshield. Honduran taxis do not usually have meters; as such, it is advisable to agree to a price in advance.
The climate is tropical (hot and humid) along the coast and drier inland. Temperatures are much cooler in the interior of the country than along the coastline. The rainy season lasts from May until October (when the air is often stifling) but it rains regularly all year long along the Caribbean coast. The interior of the country and the Pacific coast region are dry from November until April. Temperatures and humidity levels are milder in the winter months.
Voltage: 110 V ~ 60 Hz