Understanding the ZEDE Motives: Poverty Reduction, Not a Libertarian HavenThe Honduran special development regions — now the ZEDEs — have been raising expectations for a while, especially among libertarians. This was to be expected: the new ZEDE legislation offers a system with more freedom than almost any other, while also opening governance to heightened competition for constituents.
Each new press release about the ZEDEs is followed by libertarian questions and comments. Some wonder what kind of weapons one will be able to carry on the street or if every drug will be legal. Others are outraged when anyone posits that the Honduran state will not allow certain conduct considered illegal in the rest of the country.
It’s very important for all of us to understand, especially libertarians, that the new Honduran jurisdictions haven’t been designed to please the libertarian taste. The ZEDEs (or LEAP zones) are an experiment that aims to solve an social and economic crisis, to help Honduras overcome underdevelopment and fast-track the path to prosperity. If everything goes well, they will also serve as an example for the rest of the world, making Honduras a pioneer and reference point for an idea with huge development potential.
Beyond that these zones will be the proof that the political process is a valid way to advance freedom. We must remember that, in the end, it’s a project born from Honduran politics — for and by Hondurans, who have opted to follow the path that Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan chose, instead of the Cuban or Venezuelan model. Taking into consideration its neighbors, and the general Latin-American trajectory, this would be an historic milestone.
Again, it’s natural that libertarians would feel attracted to Honduran Free Cities, but they should be reminded that they only exist as a practical solution to overcome poverty. As philosopher Karl Popper once suggested, the fact that freedom and prosperity may come hand in hand is a happy coincidence.