The town of Amapala, spread across several islands in southern Honduras, is not a rich place. Many of its residents live in mud-walled shacks, with dirt floors. On the town's smaller islands, people lack regular access to fresh water and electricity. "We live poor," fisherman Rodolfo Núñez Pacheco, who lives on the island of Inglesera, told writer Maya Kroth, who paid a visit to Amapala and the surrounding area for her piece in the latest issue of Foreign Policy. "But we live happy."
Kroth's article looks at Honduras's preparations for a radical experiment: the founding of quasi-sovereign municipalities known as "zones for economic development and employment" (ZEDEs), or "charter cities." Built with backing from foreign investors and granted wide-ranging legal and administrative autonomy, these cities, according to supporters, could bring new life to places like Amapala, which is being eyed as a potential site for the first zone. But many Amapala residents are worried that a charter city, once established, would just serve the interests of its corporate sponsors. "We're only fishermen and farmers," one resident said at a town-hall meeting in July. "We won't stand for the invasion of these model cities created for the benefit of the rich!"
Above, a view of San Carlos Island, also known as Garrobo Island, which could be affected by a ZEDE.