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They present a citizen initiative to abolish Employment Zones in Honduras

Tegucigalpa, Jul 19 (.) .- The National Anticorruption Council (CNA) delivered a citizens’ initiative to the Parliament of Honduras on Monday, backed by thousands of people, including opposition deputies, which seeks to repeal the Employment and Development Zones (Zede). The proposal was supported by 15,190 signatures, higher than the 3,000 required by law, Odir Fernández, director of the CNA’s Investigation and Monitoring of Cases Unit, told .. “We are presenting the citizen initiative to repeal the Zede law, it is accompanied by 15,190 signatures and fingerprints that were collected at the national level,” explained Fernández. The signatures, with the citizen initiative, were delivered by representatives of the ANC to the opposition deputies Doris Gutiérrez and Mauricio Villeda, in a ceremony in front of the National Congress in the center of Tegucigalpa. Dozens of people, mostly carrying white flags with the message “NOZEDER”, accompanied a caravan of vehicles that began at the ANC headquarters to the Parliament, where they chanted slogans against the Zede. Some of the citizens were dressed in white shirts and repudiated the security device in the vicinity of Parliament, with policemen armed with rubber batons and tear gas canisters. UNCONSTITUTIONAL REGULATIONS The Zede were approved in 2013 during the government chaired by Porfirio Lobo and according to their promoters they are development zones similar to Hong Kong or Singapore. Fernández said that the anti-corruption office and the citizens who signed the proposal expect “results” from the Legislative branch of the country, of 9.5 million inhabitants, of which 70% are poor. The Employment Zone is an “unconstitutional regulation, it was born from the reform of stone articles (as those considered immovable are called in Honduras) of the Constitution of the Republic and finally we cannot sell or assign our sovereignty,” he emphasized. He pointed out that the Employment Zones will have their own legal regulations, so that the provisions on extradition could be rendered ineffective and “benefit many people”, some implicated in illegal acts. These zones will be “a state within another state, municipalities and local governments lose their jurisdiction in those zones, we will no longer have 298 municipalities, there are many more as Zede is added,” Fernández said. He stressed that the citizens’ initiative will serve as “a thermometer to fully demonstrate to all the deputies of the National Congress that they were not in favor of this regulation, so that they will be punished in November”, when the country will hold general elections. Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández has repeatedly defended the Employment Zones and assures that they will create thousands of jobs. The president has also denied that the Zede will help investors not comply with their tax obligations or become havens for people who do not want to face justice. The Supreme Court of Justice approved in mid-June, by majority vote, the establishment of a special jurisdiction that gives the green light to the Employment Zones in the Central American country. (c) . Agency

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