Honduras - Leadership

The issue that dominated the 2001 elections was crime. Maduro promised a "zero tolerance" crackdown on crime, saying that "the criminals' party is over." There were rampant levels of kidnapping, gang warfare, and drug-related violence in Honduras, and Maduro saw the problem of crime as stemming partly from insufficient punishment and partly from the inefficiency of the justice and penal systems. Maduro promised to end violent crime during his four-year term. He has initiated joint police and military action directed to four of the poorest and most crime-ridden areas first, called "Operation War Against Crime." It is scheduled for nationwide implementation. Human rights organizations fear such action might cause troops to abuse their authority. In May 2003, however, a group of advisors of ex-New York City mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, visited Honduras and praised Maduro for reducing crime and creating a safer Honduran society.

Maduro said he would propose drastic economic reform, calling for austerity, and implementing privatization, pension and administrative reforms called for by the IMF to help Honduras lower its debt. Low coffee prices (Honduras' most important commodity) in 2002 resulted in slowing economic growth. Maduro also wants to develop tourism, the maquila (textile) industry, small businesses, and agriculture. The cabinet he appointed is primarily technocratic.

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