Honduran "Free Cities" Plan Fully Re-Approved by Its Government


Encouraging update from the ongoing plan to create free zones in Honduras, the story-so-far told at length in my June Reason feature "The Blank Slate State."

The latest news, as reported today on the Marginal Revolution blog, including a translation from a Spanish-language news source, is that the implementing law to make the zones real has again passed the Honduran Congress.

This has happened before, then gotten scotched by Honduran courts–see my June feature for all the details.

From Marginal Revolution:

"The Law complements the amendments to Articles 294, 303 and 329 of the Constitution which paved the way for the creation of these special areas. [Those amendments fixed the problems that caused the Honduran S.Ct. to strike down the earlier version of the statute, which aimed to establish REDE.] The ZEDE legislation authorizes the establishment of courts with exclusive jurisdiction, which may adopt legal systems and traditions of other parts of the world, provided that they ensure equal or better protection of constitutional human rights protected under Honduran law."

Spanish language article on the news, which includes a different Spanish language acronym than was the term of art when I wrote my June story–it's now "Zonas de Empleo y Desarrollo Económico (ZEDE)."

Mark Klugmann, who got this idea rolling in Honduras and is quoted in my June feature, wrote on Facebook that "Honduras approves ZEDE organic law on the anniversary of Ronald Reagan's "tear down this wall!" speech.  RR stood in West Berlin, that small zone that now symbolizes the defeat of communism. The ZEDEs may be the small zones that one day will symbolize the defeat of poverty and the triumph of rule of law."

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  1. So, how do the Honduran politicians benefit from this legislation? I find it hard to believe that they are doing this out of the kindness of their libertarian hearts. Do they plan to somehow get a cut of whatever economic activity takes place in these zones?

    1. Maybe they’re hoping that economic activity will take off in these zones, Guam-style, and their poor people will stampede out of the rest of Honduras and into the zones.

      In that scenario they basically are doing this to get rid of the Hondurans who are too lazy or afraid to walk across Mexico to the US.

      1. They could also tax everything going into and out of these zones since it would have to pass through or over Honduras at some point.

  2. My prediction:

    People will use one of these locations to operate web sites the US doesn’t like or to operate a bank the US doesn’t like, and the US will militarily intervene.

    1. Come on. There’s absolutely no precedent for that kind of thing.

  3. My prediction: those zones will get rich. Then, people from the surrounding socialist countries will go to them. Then, they will complain that there is no “social justice.” So they will vote for socialism.(sound familiar?) And the cycle will begin anew.

    1. Hopefully they will have learned something from the mistakes of our past. Maybe they can at least delay the decline for a century or so.

    2. Maybe they won’t be democratic?

    3. Yep. Economic freedom will result in the creation of wealth which will be plundered in the name of fairness and equality.

      1. Yeah it’s very predictable. I’m guessing your gunna Naomi Klein making a doc about.

        1. English, much?

    4. Well, that is the cycle. It’s pretty much inevitable. The key is constantly finding new places to start with new economic freedom so that there are always places in the world that are in the good part of the cycle.

    5. One of the controversies I recall was that these zones will not be democracies per se. The model brought up was Hong Kong. But I don’t know how different things are with this new Honduran legislation

  4. It’s the start of the franchise-operated quasi-national entities Stephenson described in Snow Crash, and possibly the inevitable future of aging hegemonic nation-states as prosperity and autonomy renders individuals more capable of foregoing or subverting traditional governments altogether. Free-association is the hallmark of a free society, so an outgrowth greater indviduation and self-selection may be a patchwork secession of countless groups from the greater social fabric.

    My navel’s pretty linty today, though.

    1. possibly the inevitable future

      Oxymoron much?

    2. Unless these new groups ban immigration, which would make libertarians angry, or manage to create so much wealth that they can bribe everyone else to stay in their own countries, it is pretty much useless.

      1. They can allow immigration. If everyone in this zone starts off libertarian and they all only sell/rent land to like-minded people, then they could effectively control the type of people coming in. Furthermore, if they have absolutely no social programs and no cronyism there will be no incentive for unproductive people to come in anyway. Of course, the bigger the zone is, the more likely it is to fail.

        1. Most likely libertarians will demand non-libertarian immigration. Are we to expect libertarians to mow their own lawns?

          1. They can commute in from Honduras. Besides, I mow my own lawn.

            1. I bet you polish your own monocle too! Loser.

          2. Fuck off, American. You’re too stupid to post.

          3. It’s not necessary that each FOQNE or city-state or what have you be libertarian, only that they’re free from an overweaning federal entity to institutionalize and enforce their own legal and political constructs. What I like about Snow Crash and the spiritual sequel, Diamond Age is the non-utopian glimpse of what near-anarchy might look like: more of a federalist world.

            1. So we just need to undo the last thousand years of empire and political globalization. The economic globalization will take care of itself. Let a thousand nations bloom…

              1. I’ll take a thousand franchises competing among eachother to attract capital and settlers to the current model whereby nations do their level-best to drive it all away. Global federalism (for want of a better word) will probably not come about by dint of libertarians but the result of first-world countries committing economic suicide.

      2. As far as I know FOQNE’s were (in many cases) autocratic, but small enough (like, Walmart-sized) that the right of exit was a powerful safeguard and competition worked.

        The phyles from Diamond Age were different, but were organized according to culture more than geography. Under such a system, socialists would have to convince people to allow them in the group as full members, which would be difficult if there weren’t already a lot of socialists in the group. And if capitalists got tired of it, they could always splinter off and form their own group.

        1. This. In Diamond Age different phyles subscribed to agreements (the Common Economic Protocol, for example) that guaranteed certain mutually-enforcable rights for their citizens.

          It’s interesting stuff; not saying I believe it’s likely.

  5. Brian, first sentence: “so-far told at lenght in my June Reason feature”

  6. I wonder if libertarians see the irony here. Libertarians supported mestizo immigration despite the fact that it brought socialism with it. Now, their own country having been destroyed, they put their hope into this hellish mestizo jungle as a new libertarian state. And, if history is any indication, mestizo immigration will swamp the new libertarian paradise and turn it once more into a mestizo socialist hellhole. But they probably do not. Autistics have trouble seeing irony.

    1. Libertarians supported mestizo immigration despite the fact that it brought socialism with it.

      Er, what?

      1. It seems to me that our socialists are home-bred. They read and they travel, but they were born here.

      2. I didnt know all the mestizo’s had liberal arts degrees from elite universities

    2. Hi, American!

      1. I’m lost. Did American show up and get its post deleted?

        1. Down the memory hole.

        2. Yes. So there are a few non-sequitirs in the thread.

  7. If I were the free cities people I’d walk and try to find another place. If they changed their minds that easily they can change it again at any time they choose.

  8. A lot of our problems come from the fact that, out of the church/feudal lord dynamic, we based the nation-state on the feudal lord side of things.

    Our governments might be more liberal, but jurisdiction is still based on parcels of land, not consent of the governed. If government was run like a church congregation, where they were forced to earn “converts”, and every major doctrinal split could lead to the formation of a new church, the world might be very different indeed.

    1. A government is nothing more than a group of men with the last word in violence within a given geographical area. Taxation is their exercising the license to steal that comes with having the last word in violence. That’s all it is. There’s nothing eloquent about it. Everything a government does is predicated on having the last word in violence.

      1. Last Word in Violence is the name of the 3d-printed firearms workshop I run on the weekends.

  9. From Marginal Revolution:

    prior_approval June 13, 2013 at 11:32 am
    Free market colonialism is certainly looking like a golden investment opportunity for those unconcerned about death squads ? well, as long as the death squads see a mutually synergistic relationship blossoming, that is.

    Milton June 13, 2013 at 11:41 am
    I’m pretty sure free market colonialists can afford better death squads.


    Zach June 13, 2013 at 12:17 pm
    It’s important to note that this is not a charter city. The author’s characterization is incorrect, and the terms are not interchangeable.

    Charter cities require the foreign ownership and administration of land by a ‘guarantor nation’. This is what leads people to conclude ‘colonialism’. What’s going on in Honduras are small privately-developed communities similar to private housing developments or multiple-tenant income properties like marinas or shopping malls. They have autonomy, but are not taking sovereignty.

    So it’s possible we’re reading too much into this development. To be fair, I didn’t read the title piece in its entirety. I’ll shut up and go do that now.

  10. You know who else had an army and threatened the Free Cities?

    1. Hitler? The Lannisters? The New Urban Renewal Movement?

  11. Anything new on the free cities story?

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