Foreign policy and defense
Honduras is a nation in North America. Its capital city is Tegucigalpa. Since the late 1800s, the United States has played an important role in Honduras development – economically, politically and militarily. Relations with neighboring countries Nicaragua and El Salvador are currently stable, despite several conflicts in the past, and Honduras has signed trade agreements with several countries in the region.
As a result of the 2009 coup, many countries broke off contacts with the country, but after elections were held and a new president took office in 2010, relations were normalized.
- Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Honduras for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.
The US is the country’s largest trading partner and the American fruit companies Chiquita and Dole have had a great influence. During the 1980s, Honduras was the base for US support for the right-wing guerrilla contras in Nicaragua (see Modern History). At most, nearly 5,000 American soldiers were stationed at Palmerola Air Base north of Tegucigalpa. From 1990 onwards, the United States has reduced its military presence in Honduras and reduced its military support to the country.
Relations between countries have sometimes been strained as a result of drug smuggling from South America via Honduras to the United States. American expulsions of illegal Honduran immigrants have also caused irritation between the countries. But after the devastating hurricane Mitch 1998 hit Honduras, relations improved. The United States provided extensive assistance for reconstruction and provided 75,000 illegal Honduran immigrants with temporary work permits. These have since been extended on a couple of occasions but in 2018, the Trump administration decided that they should cease to apply.
Relations with the United States deteriorated rapidly during President Manuel Zelaya’s time in power (2006–2009) as Honduras began to approach the socialist countries of Cuba and Venezuela. However, the United States withdrew from the coup d’état against Zelaya in June 2009. Much of its civilian and military assistance to Honduras was frozen and the coup makers’ visas to the United States were revoked. Following President Lobo’s accession in early 2010, normalization of relations with the United States began. The United States has demanded improvements in the security situation and the human rights situation.
In 2014, the United States formed an Alliance for Prosperity with Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, and pledged a total of $ 750 million to the three countries in the “Northern Triangle” which is the most violent region in the world where there is no war. The idea was that the money would be used to improve security and reduce poverty in the three countries, thus counteracting the widespread influx of migrants illegally applying to the United States. The alliance was then formed a sharp increase noted by the number of Central Americans, and not least minors, who were trying to make their way to the United States. Honduras received an initial payment of $ 125 million in early 2017. The US attitude has since hardened, following Trump’s entry, and demands are now being made for Honduras to help stop migrant flows on other roads (see Population and language).
Relations with neighboring countries Nicaragua and El Salvador have sometimes been characterized by war and border disputes. It was not until 1992 that the International Court of Justice in The Hague decided the boundary dispute between Honduras and El Salvador after the 1969 football war (see Modern History). With the dispute, Isla de Conejo (Rabbit Island) in the Gulf of Fonseca came to Honduras, something El Salvador never approved. At regular intervals, word war at government level is flaring up around the island. In 2007, the court ruled on a 20-year dispute between Honduras and Nicaragua over the boundary in the waters surrounding the San Andrés Islands in the Caribbean.
Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala signed a trade agreement in 1992, which later Nicaragua and Costa Rica signed. In 2000, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador signed a free trade agreement with Mexico. In 2006, Honduras also joined the DR-Cafta Free Trade Agreement, which was concluded between the Central American countries, the Dominican Republic and the United States. After the 2009 coup d’état, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador initiated a trade blockade against Honduras. The blockade was canceled when President Lobo took office in January 2010.
A collaboration project initiated in 2001 between the Central American states and Mexico, Plan Puebla Panama (later renamed Proyecto Mesoamérica), has led mainly to major infrastructure investments in the region.
As the first Brazilian president to ever visit Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in July 2007 Honduras. In connection with the visit, a number of cooperation agreements were signed between the countries. This probably contributed to Brazil’s decision to support Zelaya after the 2009 coup and that the overthrowing president was later granted a sanctuary at the Brazilian Embassy in Honduras (see Modern History). After President Lobo took office, Brazil severed diplomatic relations with Honduras in protest against what they believed were illegitimate elections. Only in February 2012 could diplomats return after Lobo met Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff in Argentina the year before.
The coup in 2009 meant that the Organization of the United States (OAS) for the first time since 1962 (when Cuba was shut down) excluded a Member State, Honduras. After Zelaya was allowed to return to Honduras in May 2011, Honduras resumed in OAS as a member. The coup also meant that the EU broke its diplomatic relations with Honduras, froze all aid to the country and suspended the ongoing negotiations for an association agreement between the EU and the Central American states. With President Lobo, relations and assistance were resumed. In June 2012, the EU also signed an association agreement with the Central American states, including Honduras. In 2010, relations with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which after the coup, also normalized their loans, also normalized.
The military has great power in Honduras. It was not until 1998 that the country received a civil defense minister and the general military duty was abolished. Despite this, the military has continued to be a power player, which not least showed the coup in 2009. During the period 2002–2013, the military also took on an increasingly police role.
In 2012, the defense consisted of 12,000 men. The same year, the United States had 360 soldiers stationed in the country. The civilian police force comprised more than 14,000 men in 2012. In 2013, a new military police force of 500 men was created, led by the Ministry of Defense, but with civilian duties.
FACTS – DEFENSE
Army: 7,300 men (2017)
The air Force: 2 300 men (2017)
The fleet: 1 350 men (2017)
Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 1.6 percent (2017)
Military spending’s share of the state budget: 5.8 percent (2017)