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Production by Citizen Camera

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Documentary Synopsis

Along the Honduran coast, government and private enterprises are working with US economist Paul Romer to create the first experimental implementation of a 'charter city' (also known as RED or Special Development Region). Put simply, this special economic zone has been dubbed as 'Hong Kong in Honduras'.

Honduras for Sale follows the struggles of the Garifuna peoples to keep their land along this coast as they face violence and psychological pressure from multiple developers including accusations against the Canadian developer known as 'the porn king', an active supporter of the new charter city.

Speaking to victims of false imprisonment, house fires and contracted violence, it uncovers the tensions between the Garifuna peoples who want to save their land and culture and the younger generation who believe this will be an opportunity to remove themselves from poverty.

What is the new Charter City?

The new developments are based on Paul Romer’s concept of the ‘charter city’  which is an urban district where the governing system is defined by its own charter document rather than traditional laws which rule the region or country as a whole.

By effectly creating a semi-independent city state which has its own charter document, the ‘administration’ of cities are free to adopt or modify its charters as they wish.

The first attempt at realising the idea was in Madagascar, where the plan was scrapped. Now Honduras has passed an amendment to the constitution that gives the government the power to create these regions. This means that within a few decades, one of the poorest, crime ridden and corrupt countries in the world may have a new Hong Kong-like state with its own currency and laws.

Although there are supporters for such an idea, Paul Romer has come under criticism for having little experience dealing with poorer countries and for enforcing commercially-based  western modes of development which are undemocratic.

Within Paul Romers concept he states four elements for it to work, the first is ‘a vacant piece of land, large enough for an entire city’. From filming in the proposed area, we found tens of communities who have established and raised their families in this area and are now being forced to relocate. The charter city rumours have also led developers of hotels and cruise terminals to start buying up the land which is protected by UN law.