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Welcome to "Ask the Ambassador" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to U.S. Ambassadors around the world.

U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Charles A. Ford, discussed U.S.-Honduras bilateral relations.

Charles A. Ford , U.S. Ambassador to Honduras
Charles A. Ford  
U.S. Ambassador to Honduras
Event Date: June 20, 2008

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Thank you all for taking part in the Ask the Ambassador webchat. It is heartening to know that so many of you are interested in discussing such a wide variety of important issues with me. Due to the overwhelming response, I am not able to answer every single one of your questions. But I have taken care to respond to all of the themes and issues you’ve raised.

James in South Dakota writes:

Why should America care about Honduras?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

It might seem that the concerns of people in South Dakota have little to do with Honduras. However, that would be untrue. The people of the United States and the people of Honduras have enjoyed a close relationship for many years. The U.S. is Honduras’ number one trading partner; the U.S. imports shrimp, tilapia, coffee, melons, socks and other products from Honduras. The U.S. military shares a joint air base in Honduras with the Honduran military. This base is used to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to people throughout the region as well as to help protect against terrorism. In addition, its resources are used to help in the fight against narcotrafficking; this helps stop the flow of illegal drugs to all parts of the U.S. as well. Close to a million Hondurans live in the U.S.; it might be that some of your neighbors or acquaintances are of Honduran origin. Honduras is beautiful country with great tourism potential; many Americans are discovering its pristine beaches, outstanding nature preserves and friendly people. Over 50,000 Americans visit Honduras each year to help heal the sick and educate the poor. Several Rotary Clubs from South Dakota are regular visitors. I can only recommend that you visit Honduras one day to see for yourself.

Martin in Germany writes:

Sir: How do you judge the development of Honduras with regard to democracy and the rule of law? Would you call Honduras a stable democracy? Are there any substantial deficits? Best regards.

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Martin, thank you for the question. Really, Hondurans are the best judges of their country's democracy and rule of law. That being said, I believe that Honduras has come a long way in its short democratic history, but the country can't sit back content just yet. Honduras has a growing civil society, but support from individual Hondurans rather than donors remains weak. The Honduran justice sector remains ineffective, at best. If you look at the Millennium Challenge Corporation's scorecard for Honduras, which is a pretty good amalgamation of indicators from the World Bank and other respected institutions, all policy indicators under Ruling Justly are trending negatively. This includes control of corruption and rule of law. I know for a fact that there are many Hondurans who want to reverse this trend.

Charlie in Washington, DC writes:

Good Evening Ambassador,

As a quick background, I'm a Navy Officer who participated in relief operations in Honduras following Hurricane Mitch in 1998. I was really impressed by the warmth and industry of the people and the beauty of the countryside - in spite of the difficult conditions.

Question - Could you comment on current efforts to demark maritime zones in Central America (Territorial waters and EEZs) and efforts to manage marine resources in and under the sea around Central America? Are the Central American Countries signatories to UNCLOS - UN Convention on the Law of the Sea? Thank you.

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Honduras acceded to the Law of the Sea convention October 5, 1993. You can check the UN website for accession status of other Central American countries.

Honduras has maritime territorial disputes with its neighbors both off its Caribbean coast and in the Gulf of Fonseca on the Pacific side. In October 2007, the International Court of Justice issued a ruling concerning certain maritime areas disputed between Honduras and Nicaragua. The court awarded sovereignty to Honduras over four island keys and the southern 12-nautical-mile arc around them. It awarded certain maritime areas north of the 15th parallel that had previously been claimed by Honduras to Nicaragua. However, Hondurans continue to refer to those areas as a “gray zone,” still under dispute. Some fishing vessels operating out of Honduran ports, including some owned and operated by companies controlled by U.S. citizens, have been seized recently in those areas by the Nicaraguan Navy. Details of the ICJ decision can be found at http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/120/14075.pdf. The State Department recently issued a notice to mariners concerning this dispute.

Vance in Florida writes:

Honduras ranks at 131 out of 179 steps in the Transparency International corruption perceptions index.
What programs exist in the Honduras to fight corruption?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Last year, the government of Honduras publicly released an anti-corruption plan which establishes a framework of specific actions against which progress can be monitored. Along with Honduran society, we continue to monitor the progress against the objectives laid out in this plan. In fact, the Millennium Challenge Corporation will consider the progress against this plan in deciding whether to renew the country’s eligibility for funding later this year.

Vance in Florida:

Do they have an anti-corruption agency?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

There is a Transparency Commission that was established last year to improve transparency of governmental operations. There is a National Anticorruption Council, comprising representatives of the private sector and civil society, that acts as a sort of quasi-official government watchdog. There is a Superior Accounting Tribunal (TSC in Spanish) that is similar to the U.S. General Accountability Office. There is a special prosecutor for corruption crimes in the Public Ministry.

Vance in Florida:

How effective is it?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

That is for the Honduran people to judge. The TSC, for its part, has recently conducted some aggressive audits of suspicious public contracts and called attention to the increasingly routine use of “emergency” purchases to circumvent normal open public bidding procedures for public contracts.

Vance in Florida:

What objectives does the Embassy have in their work plan to reduce corruption, and what earlier plans have been implemented already?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

The Embassy supports and encourages efforts by Honduran citizens to combat corruption in Honduras, but it is for the Honduran people, not the U.S. Embassy, to reduce corruption in Honduras.

Vance in Florida:

Thank you for your time.

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Not at all.

Sebastián in Colombia writes:

What is your opinion about the climatic change that affects Central America like Honduras and what are the plans to prevent disasters?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Thank you for your question, Sabastian. Global climate change is a phenomenon that is affecting most parts of the world, and certainly Central America and Honduras are no exception. Altered rainfall patterns, and increased flooding and droughts seriously affect these countries which depend highly on rain-fed agriculture. Rising sea levels would have a devastating effect on this region because of its extended coastal lands along both oceans. In Honduras, the U.S. Government is working actively in disaster prevention and mitigation, training Honduran professionals and volunteers in areas such as risk mapping, communications, early warning systems, and emergency action plans, as well as promoting more sustainable natural resource management to reduce flood vulnerability.

Dieter in Germany writes:

Ambassador Ford: Is Honduras taking part in the war on terror? If so, would you like the country to be more engaged in this field?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Thanks for your question Dieter. Honduras is a full partner of the United States in our combined efforts to ensure and improve security in our respective countries and our hemisphere. The efforts of Honduras’ military and law enforcement in fighting illegal drugs and other illicit trafficking fully support regional efforts to combat terrorism. Additionally, Honduras’ efforts to secure borders and control the flow of undocumented persons represents an important element of our mutual strategy to combat terrorism in the Western Hemisphere.

Conrad in Florida writes:

Sir: Thank-you for reading my question. What do you think are the educational, employment, and economical solutions and answers to make Honduras better for its people. What is the United States role in support for these categories in Honduras? How can Honduras become more influential by contrast and comparison with other countries?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Thank you for your question, Conrad. While there have been some positive trends in economic growth in recent years, Honduras still faces many daunting challenges. Crime rates are high and the influence of organized crime and gangs is increasing, while public security and judicial systems remain ineffective. Corruption and weak public institutions continue to undermine public confidence in the benefits of democracy. In addition, poor economic policies, low levels of education, and the failure to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by CAFTA limit employment opportunities and the ability of Honduras to more effectively compete with its neighbors and in the global marketplace.

The U.S. Government is assisting Honduras to address many of these challenges, through programs to help reduce organized and gang-related crime; combat trafficking in drugs, contraband, and people; strengthen democratic institutions and anticorruption efforts; improve education and health and family planning services; improve food security in the most impoverished rural areas of the country; assist Honduran farmers in diversifying their agricultural production; and improve key infrastructure and an improved policy environment to stimulate economic growth.

In order to effectively address the serious obstacles that Honduras faces, Hondurans from all walks of life must commit themselves to promoting change. As always, the U.S. Government will continue to work closely with those individuals and organizations in both the public and private sectors who have demonstrated a strong commitment to promoting sustainable change in Honduras.

Dominique in Kansas writes:

Mr. Ambassador, with all of the poverty that faces Honduras and Central America, what do you consider to be the proper steps for the country to take to combat it? Also how big of a change do you think that education has to take in Honduras to help lower some of the economic problems in the country, and what reforms to the education/ political structure would you suggest?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

To combat poverty, Honduras needs to create more and better paying jobs for its people and to invest more heavily in health, education and related programs that directly benefit the poor. I believe this is best accomplished by connecting to global markets and improving the climate for business while simultaneously directing more public resources to “investing in people” – improving their health, education and nutrition so that they can compete in the global economy. Honduras also needs to strengthen its democratic institutions, including its judicial system, to assure that the benefits of participation in global markets are broadly and fairly shared. That means attacking corruption and assuring fair competition so that economic opportunities are available to all sectors of Honduran society. I will not get into specific reforms to the political structure, as that is something the Hondurans have to work out for themselves. The key is for the government to be accountable to the people, for there to be effective checks and balances on political power, for basic rights to be respected and for rule of law to prevail.

Courtney in Arizona writes:

Dear Ambassador Ford,

My husband and I had the pleasure of meeting you and your wife in Yamaranguila, Intibuca (close to La Esperanza). I am a U.S. citizen and my husband is Honduran and we recently moved to the states when his PR was approved.

We spent three years living in Honduras and I was exposed to many of the difficulties encountered by Hondurans. We had young children begging for work or extra food at our door instead of going to school. These same children would go through the garbage once it was set on the street - instead of going to school. These children are forced into work to survive and have little chance of ever succeeding in the future. Even many of those who have managed to attain a university education are happy to find a job that pays 6000 Lempiras a month for work from Monday - Saturday afternoon, which lives little time to spend time with their families and share values. The situation is disheartening and overwhelming but not something we can give up on - the only way to solve immigration problems in the U.S., is by helping Latin American countries get back on their feet and support their own citizens.

I would like to know what kinds of sustainable activities the U.S. plans to do to better the economy and education in Honduras so that people don't have to go to the U.S. to escape poverty. Is it possible to make short term immigration easier, so that those who do arrive in the U.S. know that they can go home and hope to return at another point in time? I'd also like to know what you recommend everyday citizens do to help the situation in a SUSTAINABLE way.

Ambassador Charles Ford:

One of the principal objectives of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) is to do just as you say: diversify economic activity in Honduras and other countries in the region, expand economic opportunities, strengthen the rule of law and create more and better-paying jobs here so that there will be less reason for people to want to emigrate illegally to the United States. We are seeing some progress in that regard in the two years since CAFTA entered into force. Honduras’s exports to the U.S. are up, especially for some non-traditional agricultural products that create jobs and income in some of the country’s most impoverished areas. The annual inflow of foreign investment into Honduras has increased by more than a third since CAFTA entered into force. Economic growth has averaged more than 6.5% the last two years – the highest two-year average in a generation. And official surveys show the percentage of Hondurans living in extreme poverty has declined significantly.

But much more needs to be done, obviously. Honduras needs to continue to reform and open up its economy to be able to take advantage of the opportunities offered by CAFTA. It needs to invest much more heavily in health and education. And democratic institutions, including the judiciary, need to be further strengthened to assure that the economic benefits that flow from CAFTA are broadly and fairly shared.

The U.S. Government, through U.S.AID, the Millennium Challenge Corp., the Department of Agriculture, the Peace Corps. and the military, is spending about $140 million this year on various programs to alleviate poverty and accelerate economic growth in Honduras. This includes investments in health and education and assistance to small farmers to improve their productivity, penetrate new markets and raise their incomes.

Reforming U.S. immigration policy is beyond my mandate as Ambassador to Honduras. But there are discussions underway to establish a guest-worker program for Honduran agricultural laborers in California, under existing U.S. visa rules.

Ordinary citizens can contribute by resisting the trend toward isolationism and protectionism in the United States. We must keep our markets open to mutually beneficial trade if we are to help our neighbors lift their people out of poverty.

The U.S. Government is in fact supporting a wide range of sustainable activities to improve the economy and education in Honduras. For example, the U.S. Agency for International Development (U.S.AID) is helping Honduras to implement sound economic policies, in order to improve Honduras’s competitiveness in global markets and thereby increase investment and employment within Honduras. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is improving the main highway between Comayagua and Puerto Cortés, which will stimulate commerce and investment from both local and international investors. Both MCC and U.S.AID are assisting farmers and agricultural processors to diversify their production and take advantage of opportunities available under the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), which is also increasing employment opportunities and incomes for Hondurans. In the area of education, U.S.AID and other donors are working together, through the Education for All/Fast Track Initiative, to help the Honduran Ministry of Education improve its primary and secondary education systems, to reduce repetition and drop-out rates and improve the basic education of Honduras’s workforce. U.S.AID is also helping to better train teachers, through President Bush’s Centers for Excellence in Teacher Training (CETT) initiative. In addition, U.S.AID is supporting an alternative education program that provides basic education for at-risk youth and adults who have dropped out of the formal education system. Graduates from this program have found much greater success in finding employment and increasing their incomes. In addition, the Department of Defense also assists in improving access to education, through the construction of classrooms in some of the poorest and most rural areas of Honduras.

As far as how everyday citizens can assist Honduras in a sustainable way, one option might be to contribute to non-profit organizations that work in Honduras. Remittances from Honduras living in the U.S. might be another avenue for helping Honduras progress, especially if those remittances are directed toward sustainable activities. There are also a number of churches and other organizations that send groups to Honduras to build schools, health clinics, houses, and/or to provide medical and dental care to those in need.

Monica in Honduras writes:

Mr. Ambassador, I first want to thank you for hosting this chat in an open exchange of ideas between America and Honduras.

Now, sir, could you give us a statement on the latest update on the closure of Tegucigalpa’s Toncontin airport, and the possibility of relocating the international airport to the Soto Cano/Palmerola Air Base?

I have heard there has been controversy on whether this would be feasible in that: 1) The conditions of the roads near Comayagua are more dangerous than in Tegus and that 2) While the air base belongs to the Honduran government, some of the critical technical equipment belongs to the U.S. government, possibly making it more difficult to convert into a commercial airport, as President Zelaya had hoped, and 3) If the airport were to be relocated, the jobs created by Toncontin would be lost, and that tourism into Tegucigalpa might suffer as well.

What is your stance on these situations?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

The decision to develop a civilian airport next to the joint U.S./Honduran military base at Palmerola is a sovereign decision of the government of Honduras. We are guests of the government of Honduras and the Honduran armed forces at Soto Cano base located at Palmerola. The U.S. government does not construct or operate commercial airports; however, we can assist in contacting commercial firms that excel in planning and constructing airports and associated facilities.

Daisy in Honduras writes:

Is it true you will be leaving Honduras in a very short term? I will miss Mrs. Ford buying my hummus.

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Yes, it is true that Lillian and I will be leaving Honduras soon. It will be a bittersweet departure for us because we have both enjoyed our time in Honduras a great deal. In August I will begin a new assignment as Diplomatic Advisor to the Commander of U.S. Southern Command. We are also looking forward to spending more time with our daughter and son and our extended families in the U.S. Honduras is a beautiful country with hard working people and I am pleased to see so many people here with the entrepreneurial spirit, like you. We will both miss your delicious hummus and other goodies!

Antonia in Honduras writes:

Mr. Ambassador, in La Ceiba are very worry about the large scale operation going on at present time of the drug cartels and money laundry, we believe this is well known by the authorities and U.S. embassy, smb's are worry because this is breaking good business includes those of some us investors, is the Merida Imitative going to address this kind of problems, if that is so, when are we going to see results? Are these operations going to be in collaboration with the Honduran authorities? How sure are we that the money laundry operation is going to be stopped? How can I inform the U.S. authorities of possible wrong doings of this nature?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Drug trafficking and money laundering are major concerns shared by our two countries, as well as by other countries in the region. The U.S. and Honduras are currently working together on various projects aimed at strengthening the security sector and the rule of law. In addition to this cooperation, our Congress is considering the Merida Initiative proposal which, if approved, will provide an additional $65 million for Central America to support regional solutions to security-related problems. Drug trafficking, organized crime, and transnational gangs all threaten the security of our countries and will be the focus of this initiative. The U.S. Government will work together with the Honduran Government and other governments in the region to implement and ensure the success of Merida Initiative projects.

Marlon in New York writes:

Dear Mr. Charles A. Ford;
I was born in Tela and currently reside in New York. I did my first elementary school year in the mountains of El Dorado (Tela) and was lucky to obtain a scholarship to study law in Seville, Spain through an educational treaty with that nation. I'm now admitted to practice (NY Law School) here in New York as well.

I have mentioned the above so that you may understand, as you probably do, that given the opportunity any of the kids that you so often see on the streets can become successful, law abiding citizens and they all have the potential to excel in life. Some, as we know are very poor; others come from broken families and/or are orphans. A great many, unfortunately, are in the brick of falling prey to a life of crime, drugs and violence; so rampant in Honduras in the last couple of years. This concerns me greatly.

What is the U.S. embassy doing for Honduras' children or what is the nature, if any, of your involvement? Educationally, socially or financially? Is there any educational treaty similar to the one with Spain? Is there any way that i could be involved with your embassy in any such program?

Thank you for your time and consideration.

PS. Your servant is also a former serviceman. I was honorably discharged (4 yrs. active) from the U.S. Navy in the 80s.

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Thank you for your question and your service to our armed forces. Your personal success is an example of what can be achieved with educational, social and financial opportunities. The U.S. Government is committed to improving the education, health and social opportunities for the Honduran population. For example, in education the U.S. Government finances, through U.S.AID, programs to reduce dropout rates, increase enrollment in primary and secondary schools, improve academic performance at both the primary and secondary levels, and increase accountability in the education system. U.S.AID supports activities like EDUCATODOS which offers out-of-school youth the opportunity to complete nine years of basic education in five years by means of an alternative radio and CD education system. In addition, U.S.AID has activities with the Ministry of Education to institutionalize academic standards in Spanish and math. U.S.AID also manages the Centers for Excellence in Teacher Training (CETT) program, a regional presidential initiative to improve teaching of reading in grades one through three. Honduras was recently named as the only Latin American country selected for participation under the new Presidential Initiative in Education Improvement. The Fulbright Program and The Cooperative Association of States for Scholarships (CASS) are two educational programs that provide opportunities to study in the U.S. The Department of Defense also assists in improving access to education, through the construction of classrooms in some of the poorest and most rural areas of Honduras. We sincerely believe that with improved education opportunities youth will become more productive and more actively involved in the socioeconomic development of the country.

Socially, U.S.AID’s household food security program supports community-based activities to promote child growth and feeding, prevent and treat childhood illness, provide water and sanitation services, mitigate malnutrition, and lower infant and maternal mortality rates. U.S.AID’s broader health program focuses on reproductive health and family planning, child survival, and the prevention of HIV/AIDS. The Centers for Disease Control and the Peace Corps also provide significant assistance to Honduras in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.

Finally, to address your last question, one way to be involved in our program would be for you to privately arrange to sponsor a child’s education, inclusive of books and uniform; perhaps a child from your home community of El Dorado (Tela).

Manuel in Honduras writes:

Good Afternoon Mr. Ford. What you think about the social justice in my country?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Good question, Manuel. If, in asking about social justice, you are referring to fair access for all Hondurans to economic opportunity, equal protection under the law, and the sharing of the fruits of such opportunity, then I would say that social justice in Honduras has considerable room for improvement. Honduras has the fourth worst score on the United Nations Development Program's Human Development Index in the Americas. And the income distribution in the country, for me somewhat of an indicator of access to economic opportunity, remains poor, as it is in much of the Americas. While there are no formal barriers that exclude any social group from participation and opportunity, informal barriers remain, including poverty and poor education. Another obstacle I would cite is Hondurans' limited sense of citizen rights and responsibilities in a democratic society. I believe, though, that social justice will grow in Honduras with better understanding of these rights and responsibilities, improved educational opportunities, economic integration, and more investment.

Mary in Tennessee writes:

I am planning a cruise (no airfare). What identification do I need??? I have been told by the cruise line a driver’s license and birth certificate.

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Thank you for your question, Mary. Although your cruise line can best advise you on the documents you need to embark and disembark from the United States, you must consider the requirements for visiting any foreign posts of call. The specific requirements will depend on your itinerary, and you should check with the Embassy or Consulate of any foreign country you will visit to see if passports or visas are required. To travel to Honduras, for example, a passport with at least three months validity is required. Additional information is available from the Honduran Embassy in Washington, DC: http://www.hondurasemb.org.

Ana in California writes:

Mr. Ford: My question is: Is the U.S. Department of State doing something against those people appointed by the corrupted government of Honduras clearly committing fraud being issued A1 or A2 visas and coming to this country to pursue their personal life such as studying, traveling, musical careers, etc., check the name of Nohelia Sosa, Soaraya Jalil among others, how can the government of the United States tolerate these cases, are you really going to do something about it? Can you at least investigate it.

Ambassador Charles Ford:

As in any country with which the United States maintains diplomatic relations, we work closely with the Honduran Foreign Ministry to issue the appropriate diplomatic visas to its designated representatives in our country. As part of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, every country has the right to name such diplomatic representatives, just as the U.S. government does. The current Foreign Minister has made the professionalization of the Honduran diplomatic corps a priority of his tenure, an effort which I strongly support. Diplomatic officials have an important responsibility both in representing their governments and providing protection and service to their citizens in other countries, and they themselves deserve the best training and support.

Guni in Brazil writes:

Good Afternoon… I would like to know, what are the ways to be accepted in the State Department? Also, I would like to know, is there any restrictive condition for naturalized U.S. citizens to work in the U.S. diplomacy and interests?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

One of the best resources for finding out information about positions in the State Department is at http://www.state.gov/careers it provides information not only on becoming a Foreign Service Officer, but positions available as a Foreign Service Specialist, and a Special Agent with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security among others. It also has links to positions wit Peace Corps, U.S. AID among others. Remember the Foreign Service is not just the Department of State, I my self am a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of Commerce, and there are also Foreign Service Officers with the Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

  • To become a Foreign Service Officer, there are several important eligibility requirements:
  • All applicants must be U.S. citizens on the date they submit their registration package.
  • On the day you submit your registration, you must be at least 20 years old and no older than 59 years of age.
  • On the day you are appointed as a Foreign Service Officer, you must be at least 21 years old, and not yet 60.
  • You must also be available for worldwide assignments, including Washington, D.C.

You will have to pass a written and oral exam, a medical exam and a security background check, but all applicants follow the same rules. The Foreign Service is very diverse, with many members being naturalized citizens giving back to their adopted homeland, here at Embassy Tegucigalpa we have an officer who was a French citizen and another who was Russian, but they are American now and proudly serving their country.

Juan in New Jersey writes:

Hi Mister Ambassador my name is Juan Ortiz and I live in Jersey City, New Jersey. I have been calling the Embassy a lot of times during this week but no one could answer my question. Well Mr. Ford my problem is this; I have a girlfriend living in Honduras and is pregnant. She is due any day in this week. I am going to Honduras to see my child and to also see if I can make my daughter an American Citizen. Here’s the problem, I am only going to be in Honduras from July 1st until July 22nd and need to know if I have to set an appointment? Also that what papers I need to present in order for the process to move a lot faster? What documents does my girlfriend have to present also? And how long does the process take because as I stated early on I only have 3 weeks to get things moving? Does it have any affect that I am only 18 years old and she is 20? Also could I do this process in San Pedro Sula and do I have to bring my daughter? Please tell me any additional documents that I have to have and my girlfriend the day of the appointment. Thank you Mr. Ford for your time and please get back to me as soon as possible. Thank you.

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Congratulations, Juan, on the upcoming birth of your child. The Embassy is prepared to assist you in registering your child as an American citizen, but will require you to be prepared to demonstrate your ability to transmit citizenship to him or her, as well as prove the biological relationship between you and your child. You may schedule an appointment by emailing the American Citizen Services section at: usahonduras@state.gov, and should do so at least three weeks in advance of your visit.

In order to prepare for a successful interview, please bring documents with you from the United States. As you must prove that you have been physically present in the United States for at least 5 years before the birth of your child, you should bring your high school and grade school transcripts. To help establish a biological relationship, please bring photos of you and your girlfriend before the birth of the child. If the biological relationship cannot be established through interviewing and photos, a DNA test may be suggested. If you have been married before, your marriage and/or divorce certificates, as well as the literal birth certificate for your child are required.

Although this process can be scheduled in San Pedro Sula, we suggest that you come to the Embassy in this situation. The Consular Officer working on your case can tell you at the time of the interview if you require additional information. We wish to save you time on your short trip to visit your family here.

Eilyn in Honduras writes:

As a student, how am I able to get a Visa?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Thank you for your question, Eilyn. The United States welcomes international students, and the Department of State maintains a website full of information on applying to U.S. universities and colleges, obtaining U.S. student visas, and on the U.S. educational experience: http://educationusa.state.gov/

The following information applies to anyone interested in obtaining a student visa. It seems like a lot, but really boils down to: apply to a U.S. school (and get accepted), pay your tuition and required visa and school fees, and apply for a visa. Here are the details:

Once you have gained admission to an educational institution, you must process your student visa. F-1 visas (academic or language studies) and M-1 visas (vocational studies) are to attend an educational institution and carry a full-time load of courses. It is very important that you apply for your visa with enough time in advance, we recommend a minimum one month before your travel plans. Also take into consideration that Embassies and Consulates can only issue student visas within a 120-day period in advance of the beginning of the course of study (noted in the I-20). For example, if your course of study begins September 1 and you present your application April 1, your visa application will be left pending until your visa can be issued around the beginning of June.

You may proceed to apply for your student visa once you have received form I-20 A or B (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status for Academic and Language Students) or form I-20M or N (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status for Vocational Students) sent to you by the educational institution you will attend. It is also very important to pay the SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System fee. Sometimes the educational institution will process the payment for you and will send the receipt along with the I-20, but if they have not sent it, it is your responsibility to pay the U.S.$100 fee. For more information and/or to make the payment go to these websites or see below: http://www.ice.gov/sevis and www.fmjfee.com.

In Honduras, these are the steps to apply for a student visa:

  • Pay the Consular Fee at any branch of Banco Atlántida (show your passport and it must have a minimum six month validity remaining). Since May 17, 2007 we have our Call Center available, and it is through them that you can obtain an appointment. Your appointment fee is U.S.$131, which can be paid at any Banco Atlantida branch. Also you pay an additional fee of U.S.$13, and you will obtain a PIN number to be used with our Call Center and they will give you your appointment date.
  • All student visa applicants must present the following documents:
    • Passport with a minimum six month validity remaining.
    • Form I-20A/B or I-20M/N issued by an educational institution.
    • Form I-901 (SEVIS Fee Application) and the corresponding receipt or evidence of payment.
  • All non-immigrant visa applicants, including student applicants must also present:
    • Non-Immigrant Visa Application Form DS-156 in the electronic format.
    • Form DS-158 (Contact Information and Work History for Non-Immigrant Visa Applicant).
    • Men between the ages of 16 and 45 must also present Form DS-157 (Supplemental Non-Immigrant Visa Application).
    • Recent 2x2 inch photo taken with a white background, no glasses.
    • If the applicant is a minor (under 21), you must present Birth Certificate. If the applicant has never had a U.S. visa, he/she must come with both parents or legal guardian (with proof of custody). Parents or legal guardian must present national ID cards, passports, letters of employment, bank letters and property documents.
  • Finally, you should be prepared to present the following documents: Transcripts and/or diplomas from previously attended educational institutions. Scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution you will attend (TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.). Financial evidence that shows sufficient funds to cover tuition and living expenses during the period of intended study (from parents, scholarship, sponsor, etc). You should also bring your previous passports.

Emely in Honduras writes:

As a 9th grade student, how am I able to get a scholarship at U.S. for college?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Thanks for your question Emely. Let me first congratulate you because it shows the keen interest you have in your academic future. I’m pleased to share with you the following information. The U.S. Embassy supports the Education U.S.A. Center that is located at the Instituto Hondureño de Cultura Interamericana (IHCI), Boulevard Morazan, next to Restaurant Papa Chacalin. The Center Coordinator will kindly assist you with all the information you need, including requirements for each college in order for you to prepare yourself now that you are in the 9th grade. Remember that your grades are very important at the time you apply to a U.S. university as well as the standardized tests that you will need to take such as the SAT and TOEFL. I strongly recommend that you to keep a good point average, participate in extra-curricular activities, and prepare yourself to take the standardized tests.

Teresa in Honduras writes:

Ambassador Ford: I would like to know that, if the Palmerola airport would open for Honduran commercial work, is the U.S.A. humanitarian – strategic activities against narcotrafico/terrorism representation posted there going at all from Honduras?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

We are pleased that President Zelaya has renewed the commitment of the Honduran government to maintain, preserve and strengthen the integrity of the joint military base and its mission. We look forward to working together with Honduras on this effort to create a civilian airport and at the same time to ensure the continuation of the important work of JTF-Bravo to include:

  • The fight against drug trafficking
  • Humanitarian assistance
  • Disaster Relief

Marie in Belize writes:

If someone lives in the states for 4 years or more, can they apply for permanent residence, and get a green card? If so how can it be done? If not how long must they live in the U.S. before that can happen?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Applying for residency in the United States is not based on the length of time a person has lived in the United States. Except for rare circumstances, a person cannot “self petition” for residency, the person must have a sponsor who is either an American Citizen or a Legally Permanent Resident (LPR) to petition for him or her based on a family or employment relationship. The first step is to determine if the person is in the United States legally or not. If the person is in the United States legally, then it is possible in certain circumstances to adjust status while in the United States and become a resident. If the person is in the United States illegally, then that person must leave the United States and return to his or her home country to apply for an immigrant visa to return to the United States. For information regarding adjusting status while in the United States, please see the website of the United States Citizenship Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security at http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis. Information about immigrant visas can be found on the same website.

Lucy in Illinois writes:

Is there a new rule regarding the foreign student or work visa holder's background check must be completed within 3 weeks? What if the processing time exceed 3 weeks? Are there any options for those applicants to take? Appeal? Thanks.

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Thank you for your question, Lucy. While I cannot comment on specific cases, generally the Department of State processes personal information during the interview with a Consular Officer or within a few days of said interview. All applicants for non-immigrant visas are checked during the interview process for possible criminal violations or other ineligibilities that would prevent them from receiving a non-immigrant visa.

Marta in Florida writes:

Good morning Mr. Ford! This is my question, I am an American citizen, with family in Honduras, I would like to have my older sister to come to visit for a couple weeks, most of my brothers and sister are living here with a legal status, what I need to send her to go to the embassy and get a permission to come to visit? Which documents should I send her? I will really appreciate your help, she always dream about this country, I would like her coming and see this beautiful U.S.A. please help me. Thank you sir for your time.

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Thank you for your question Marta. While we cannot comment on specific cases, the following information pertains to anyone applying for a B1B2 Tourist visa from the U.S.:
Under Section 214(b) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, all applicants for all kinds of non-immigrant visas, including tourist and student visas, are considered intending immigrants unless they can convince the interviewing officer otherwise. Therefore, it is incumbent on the applicant to demonstrate clear intentions to return to Honduras after a short visit to the United States. Applicants generally demonstrate their intention to return by showing that they have strong familial ties, a stable economic situation and commitments that require their return. An established job, steady savings, strong family ties and a defined plan of study or tourism are important factors during the interview. Although many applicants have family or friends who would like to invite the applicant and offer to pay all costs for the trip, under Section 214(b), only the applicant can qualify for the visa. An invitation alone is not enough for an applicant to overcome the presumption of intending immigrant.

Despite the assurances or good intentions of a U.S. relative or friend, an invitation letter will simply help establish that the applicant has a credible reason for traveling, and will do little to help the applicant overcome the presumption of immigrant intent. It is important that the applicant bring documents that prove strong family and/or economic ties to Honduras in addition to the invitation letter.

It is not necessary for relatives from the U.S. to come to the interview, nor should they send documents to the Embassy. The Consular Section cannot be responsible for any documents mailed, faxed, or emailed in support of an application for a non-immigrant visa. If you are going to send a letter of invitation, send it directly to your friend or relative.
For more information on non-immigrant visas, please refer to our website at: honduras.usembassy.gov

Jose in Honduras writes:

My wife and I had to travel to the U.S. with a Tourist VISA (B1-B2) in order to attend to our late daughter who was terribly sick. She was in a coma for 10 months, so we had to stay and watch over her for more than a year, from the moment she was pregnant and in a delicate state, to when she went into a coma, and then finally passed away after 10 months. Since her 3 children (12, 11, 1), were not being taken care of properly by their father, we had to claim guardianship. We finally got the guardianship 7 months after their mother's (our daughter) death. After this we had to request new passports for the children, which we got 2 months later. We came back to Honduras 1 month later. The total amount of time we spent in the U.S. was 13 months since the last time we entered U.S. territory, which is 7 months more than the permission which was given to us. What do we need to in obtain full pardon from the us embassy for when we want to travel again? We do realize that we could have requested an extension for our stay, but we just did not have enough money to do so. We have all the documents to sustain our situation. Thanks for your time.

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Jose, I'm very sorry for the loss of your daughter, and I wish you all the luck in the world as you raise and care for your grandchildren.

While I cannot comment on your specific case, I will tell you generally what happens when someone overstays their visa. An unauthorized overstay on a non-immigrant visa can lead to anywhere between a 3 to 10 year bar from obtaining a visa to enter the U.S. That said, you should bring all of the documentation regarding the reasons for your overstay when you come for your interview with the Consular Officer. In certain cases, the Consular Officer can help you start the process of requesting a waiver from the Department of Homeland Security in regards to your overstay. Please be aware that requesting a waiver for an overstay is not a guarantee of receiving one.

Joseph in California writes:

With the approval of gay marriage in California, can I now petition my fiancée from abroad with this same-sex marriage law as basis for my petition?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

At this time no Immigration law is considered federal law and so its rules and regulations are determined by the United States Congress. Section 7 of the Defense of Marriage Act (Public Law 104-199) states: “The word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” For that reason, federal immigration law does not recognize same-sex marriages and such marriages cannot be used as a basis for petitioning a same-sex spouse for an immigrant visa.

Betancourth in U.S.A. writes:

I came to Bible College as student (F1), I got a degree in Theology/Missions - then I went from F1 to R1 (Religious work visa), we applied here in the states and it was approved, but I am not good to travel.

What do I have to do if I go to Honduras? Do I have to apply normally for a R1 visa? Is there any document beside the approval notice from Immigration that I have to bring with me? Then from the employer church what do I need?

How can I make my appointment from the states? If I get a pin, can I call myself from the states?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Thank you for your question. When status is changed in the U.S. it is at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). A visa is merely permission to seek entry into the U.S. DHS determines if you are permitted to enter and for what length of time you may stay in the U.S. After departing the U.S., a visit to a U.S. Embassy is required to obtain a new visa in order to request permission to enter the U.S. again. Applicants should bring all of their paperwork from DHS with them when they have their interview with the Consular Officer.

Information regarding R visas can be obtained on our website, honduras.usembassy.gov. As for making an appointment from the United States, you would need to ask someone to go to a Banco Atlantida branch on your behalf to buy the PIN, which they would have to use to call for an appointment. The number for making appointments with the call center is not accessible from the United States.

Darlene in U.S.A. writes:

…Was wondering what is required for a Honduran citizen to come to the U.S.A for a short vacation of 1 or 2 weeks. Could you please let me know? Thank you.

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Thank you for your question, Darlene.

The easiest way to learn about non-immigrant visas and the visa process is to visit the embassy website at honduras.usembassy.gov, where we explain the different types of visas and the process for obtaining a visa.

If you have questions about non-immigrant visas in general or the visa process, we can be reached by phone, fax or e-mail. You can call the Consular Section in Honduras at 236-9320 ext. 4915, or, if calling from the U.S., at 011-504-236-9329 ext. 4915, Monday through Thursday after 3:00 p.m. local time. Our fax number is 237-1792 (011-504-237-1792 from the United States). We can also be reached by e-mail at tggniv@state.gov.

Joselyn in Honduras writes:

Hi I want to ask you if as a Mexican resident here in Honduras could I get the VISA, I am 21 years old and I want to dealing with the VISA because I need to work...I am in a difficult time of my life...I got a sister who has Lupus and we need to support her with her medications..I am not a 100% bilingual but I can speak English..I've been looking for job here but I couldn't get one..and she is needing money..and I was wondering if you could help me with that...

Ambassador Charles Ford:

In order to be employed legally in the United States, you need to have a work visa. These visas come in different categories, but the most commonly issued work visa is an "H" visa. A company in the U.S. would have to file a petition on your behalf for an H visa. They would notify your recruiting agent or you personally and send you the approved petition and documents. If it is an H1 visa, you would have to make the appointment with the Consulate yourself through our Call Center and bring all documentation; if you are applying for an H2 visa, the company will make the appointment for you and you will be notified when the date of your appointment is. Visa types depend on the kind of job you will be performing in the U.S. More information can be obtained at our website, honduras.usembassy.gov.

Generally speaking, it is preferable to apply for your visa in your country of origin, though applicants of any nationality are welcome to apply at any Embassy or Consulate in the world.

Charlie in Honduras writes:

What is the process for obtaining an immigration visa for a Honduran spouse of a U.S. Civilian Contractor currently working at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras/

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Contractors who are assigned to Soto Cano Airbase for six months or more may file their I-130 petitions for an immigrant visa for their Honduran spouse here at the Embassy with the Department of Homeland Security. The DHS window is open every Monday morning from 9:00 am to 11:00 am. Information regarding the process for filing and obtaining an immigrant visa here in Honduras can be found on our website at http://honduras.usembassy.gov/english/mission/sections/IV/index.htm. Additional information regarding immigrant visas in general and the role of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services section of DHS in the process can be found at their website http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis.

Gina in Honduras writes:

Mr. Ford: It is a pleasure to salute you I’m a 20 years old girl, with big aspirations, I always wanted to study law in the U.S., but my economic situation is very difficult, I had applied to many scholarships but with no answer, I would like to know how the U.S. government could help me to fulfill my dream?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Gina, congratulations on aspiring to continue with your studies. You are perfectly eligible to apply to the Fulbright scholarship program that the U.S. government sponsors, but you will need to meet the requirements such as an excellent grade point average, excellent English, two years of working experience, and a commitment to return to Honduras and make a difference. Please visit the EducationU.S.A office at the Instituto Hondureño de Cultura Interamericana (IHCI) and the coordinator will assist you in the application process. I wish you the best and hope you will be able to continue with your academic plans.

Carlos in Honduras writes:

Español: Buenas Tardes senor embajador. Lo felicito por excelent trabajo que realiza en nuestro pais, en representación de su pais. Senor embajador, soy un profesional universitario, me gusta mucho la politica, participo en politica nunca he desempenado un puesto de gobierno trabajo en la empresa privada. Como ve nuestro sistema democratico, cree que eamos avanzando, o nos estamos estancando?

English: Good afternoon Mr. Ambassador. I congratulate you on the excellent work you have done in our country as a representative of your country. Mr. Ambassador, I am a university professional, I like politics and participating in politics very much. I have never held a government position; I work in a private firm. How do you see our democratic system, do you believe it is advancing or are we stuck?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Español: Muchas gracias. Es bueno saber que nuestro trabajo aquí es apreciado. Para que todo sistema democrático funcione bien, los ciudadanos tienen que involucrarse. Los ciudadanos deben demostrar pacíficamente su deseo para el cambio, y promover las organizaciones fuertes necesarias para tratar los puntos importantes que el país tiene que enfrentar. Nuestra propia historia en los Estados Unidos es una en el cual lideres organizados y motivados se han unido para promover el cambio.

Por ejemplo, hace 40 anos Martin Luther King unio personas un una batalla pacifica a favor de mejores derechos civiles para los Afro-Americanos y hoy tenemos un Afro-Americano nominado para la presidencia. Yo creo que hondurenos trabajando juntos pueden lograr un progreso real en Honduras tambien.

English: Thank you. It’s nice to know that our work here is appreciated. For any democratic system to work well, the citizens need to become involved. Citizens must peacefully demonstrate their desire for change, and promote the strong institutions necessary to address the important issues facing the country. Our own history in the United States is one in which motivated, organized leaders have come together to promote change.

For example, over 40 years ago Martin Luther King brought people together in a peaceful struggle in favor of greater civil rights for African Americans and today we have an African American who is a nominee for President. I think Hondurans working together can achieve real progress in Honduras as well.

Roberto in Venezuela writes:

Español: Reciba un cordial saludo. Escribo desde Venezuela aprovechando la oportunidad, ya que es la primera vez que visito la pagina web del departmento de estado. Mi pregunta es una. Yo naci en los Estado Unidos, en el Estado de Missouri en el ano 1978….Que pasos debo seguir para recuperar la nacionalidad Norteamericana???...How can I claim my citizenship??? Thanks!!

English: Greetings! I write from Venezuela, taking this opportunity – it is the first time I vist the Department of State’s website. My question is: I was born in the United States, in Missouri in 1978. What steps do I need to take to recuperate US citizenship? How can I claim my citizenship??? Thanks!!

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Español: Roberto, lo primero que debes saber es que la nacionalidad no se pierde por el paso del tiempo. La página web del Departamento de Estado que tú visitaste tiene la información sobre los formularios que tendrás que llenar para recibir un pasaporte; por favor visita http://www.travel.state.gov y pica en “Passports” para mayor información. Tú puede solicitar un pasaporte en la Embajada de los Estados Unidos en Caracas con una partida de nacimiento original y cualquier otro documento que compruebe tu identidad. Como ya eres adulto, tendrás que probar que eres la misma persona a la quien le emitieron la partida de nacimiento en Missouri; para hacer esto, debes traer fotografías tuyas de niño en los Estados Unidos, documentos que establezcan tu identidad (diplomas, licencias para conducir, otros documentos emitidos por el Gobierno de Venezuela).

English: Roberto, the first thing you should know is that citizenship is not lost over time. The State Department website that you visited has information about the forms you will need to fill out in order to receive a passport; please visit http://www.travel.state.gov and click on “Passports” for more information. You may apply for a passport at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas with an original birth certificate and other proof of your identity. Because you are now an adult, you will be required to show that you are the same person as the one issued the birth certificate in Missouri; to do this, you may bring photos of yourself as a child in the United States, documents establishing your identify (diplomas, driver’s license, other documents issued by the Government of Venezuela).

Jimmy in Honduras writes:

Español: Porque Estados Unidos no hace un mayor esfuerzo en presionar al gobierno de honduras, por tanta corrupcion que existe en el pais, ya que de una manera descara los funcionarios estan robando el dinero del pueblo, me duele como hondureño que no se pueda hacer nada al respecto, y digo nada porque si uno denuncia corre peligro de muerte, y los tribunales de justicia no hacen nada por ejercer la justicia, hasta cuando sera que estados unidos ejersa presion a Honduras para que metan presos a los ladrones y corruptos???

English: Why hasn’t the United States undertaken a major effort to urge the Honduran Government to fight the corruption that the country faces, because in a very shameless way public officials are stealing the citizen’s money. It really matters, and I say nothing has been done because if we denounce corrupt people our life is in danger, and tribunals of justice don’t do anything, I’m wondering when the U.S. will put more emphasis on urging Honduras to put in jail those thieves and corrupt officials?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Español: Es principalmente el deber del pueblo hondureño y de las instituciones democráticas del país combatir la corrupción. No habrá avances en la lucha contra la corrupción mientras existe una actitud de tolerancia frente a actos corruptos. El pueblo tiene que insistir que los funcionarios públicos manejan sus cuentas de una forma transparente y que tomen sus deciciones de una manera abierta. Al no ser así, no deberían elegirlos. Cuando se trata de violaciones de leyes de los EE.UU., tomamos medidas apropiadas. También podemos condicionar el desembolso de nuestra ayuda financiera en esfuerzos contra la corrupción, como hemos hecho con la Cuenta Desafío del Milenio. Pero los soldados en la lucha contra la corrupción hondureña tienen que ser Uds. los Hondureños. La corrupción existe en todos los países, incluyendo el mio. Lo importante es investigar y castigar los oficiales corruptos y sacarlos del poder. Requiere un esfuerzo sin parar.

English: Thank you for your question Jimmy. The fight against corruption is mainly the responsibility of the Honduran people and Honduran democratic institutions. There won’t be any progress in the fight against corruption as long as there is a culture of tolerance in the face of corrupt acts. The Hondurans are the ones who have to urge their public officials to manage the government’s public finances in a transparent way and to take actions and decisions in an open way. For example, when there is a violation of U.S. law, my government takes appropriate action. Also, we can condition the disbursement of our financial support in an effort to fight corruption, as we have done with the Millennium Challenge Account. But the real soldiers in the fight against corruption are the Hondurans. Corruption exists everywhere, including in my country. The important thing is that the institutions of justice responsible for investigating and punishing those corrupt public officials must continue their efforts to take the necessary steps in order to avoid impunity.

Gabriela in Honduras writes:

Español: Que sucedera si Estados Unidos necesita Palmerola con fines militares, en caso de alguna Guerra o similar? Que sucedera con las construcciones que se haran para hacerlo aeropuerto comercial? Se quedara en la nada la inversion de Honduras? Porque recorddemos Palmerota en realidad no es de Honduras, es de Estados Unidos y tienen todo el derecho de reclamar su proiedad si la necesitan.

English: What will happen if the United States needs Palmerola for military purposes, in case of a war or something similar? What will happen with the buildings to convert it to a commercial airport? Will Honduras’ investment be useless? Because we should remember that Palmerola does not really belong to Honduras, it belongs to the United States and they have a full right to claim their property if they need it.

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Español: Desde 1982 tenemos el privilegio de ser huéspedes del Gobierno de Honduras y de las Fuerzas Armadas de Honduras en la base “Coronel Enrique Soto Cano” ubicada en Palmerola. Como dije anteriormente, nos complace que el Presidente Zelaya haya reconfirmado el compromiso del gobierno hondureño de mantener, preservar y fortalecer la integridad de la base militar conjunta y su misión al esforzarse por crear un aeropuerto civil en Palmerola. Este compromiso asegura que continuará la importante labor de la Fuerza de Tarea Conjunta – Bravo con la milicia hondureña.

English: Since 1982 we are privileged to have been guests of the government of Honduras and the Honduran armed forces at Colonel Enrique Soto Cano base located at Palmerota. As I said earlier, we are pleased that President Zelaya has reconfirmed the commitment of the Honduran government to maintain, preserve and strengthen the integrity of the joint military base and its mission as it works to create a civilian airport at Palmerola. This commitment ensures that the important work of JTF-Bravo together with the Honduran military will continue.

Nora in Honduras writes:

Español: Como puede hablar del reto de que Honduras se convierta en un pais de oportunidades y esperanza cuando no hay trabajo y debido a eso es la delincuancia la que reina en este pais porque es bien sabido por todo el pueblo que desde la cabeza del gobierno es corrupto, lo mejor seria permitir a las parsonas que posean educacion de calidad y experiencia a aprovechar las oportunidades que se ofrecen fuera de las fronteras del pais si no tambien terminaran siendo corruptos y uniendose a esta sociedad de abuso al pobre y menos afortunado, esos trabajos de inteligencia y anti- drogas que hacen desde la base aérea jtfb deberian de ser mayores y mejores para que dejen de utilizar el pais como puente del trafico de tanta droga que ustedes finalmente consumen en U S A.

English: How can you speak of the challenge to turn Honduras into a country of opportunities and hope when there is no work and that is the cause of crime that reigns in this country, because it is well known among the people that the Government is corrupt from the top. The best thing would be to allow the people with quality educations to take advantage of the opportunities abroad, otherwise they will become corrupt and joining this society that is abusive of the poor and less fortunate. The intelligence and anti-drug efforts carried out from the JTFB air base should be greater and improved so that they stop using the country as a bridge for the many drugs that you end up consuming in the U.S.A.

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Español: Muchas gracias por su pregunta porque no sólo es muy interesante sino que me da la oportunidad para expresarle algunos conceptos que entiendo son de gran importancia.

En primer lugar Honduras es y debe ser para los hondureños y esto significa que, más allá de cualquier obstáculo, jamás debería renunciarse a que se transforme en una sociedad de esperanza y oportunidades para sus ciudadanos.

En cuanto a la Fuerza de Tareas Conjunta "Bravo", hace años que esta unidad militar americana viene trabajando con las autoridades hondureñas en el combate al narcotráfico. Sabemos que ésta es una tarea difícil, que siempre parece que requiere de más y más esfuerzos, pero que nunca debe abandonarse. Bajo ninguna circunstancia se debe renunciar a derrotar el narcotráfico porque derrotarlo es un imperativo ético de todo los pueblos de las Américas.

English: Thank you very much for your question. It is a question that is not only interesting, but gives me the opportunity to express some concepts that I believe are significant.

First, Honduras is and should be for Hondurans, and this means that, beyond any obstacles, you should never give up on turning it into a society of hope and opportunities for its citizens.

Regarding Joint Task Force “Bravo”, this American military unit has for years been working with Honduran authorities to combat against drug-trafficking. We are aware that this is a difficult task that always seems to require more and more efforts, but should not be abandoned. Under no circumstance should you give up on defeating drug-trafficking because defeating it is one of the ethical imperatives of all nations in the Americas.

Marcio in Honduras writes:

Español: Hola, mi pregunta es..
habemos personas que somos honestas por lo tando trabajamos con la embajada americana de diferentes formas (policial), porque estas personas que son sometidas a varios examenes no pueden tener una visa de Turismo. si realizan examenes y son gente confiable de la Embajada Americana, tener algun otro internsivo

English: Hello, my question is:
There are honest people among us and we work with the U.S. Embassy in different ways (pólice). Why is it that these people that are subject to several exams cannot obtain a tourist visa? If they take exams and are trusted by the U.S. Embassy.

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Español: Cualquier persona puede aplicar para una visa de turismo. Nuestra ley esta aplicada imparcialmente y los viceconsules consideran cualquier solicitante en la misma manera durante la entrevista. Muchos de los que han trabajado con la embajada Americana han recibido visas y esperamos hacer la entrevista para cualquier persona que quiere disfrutar una visita a los EEUU.

English: Any person can apply for the tourist visa. Our law is applied impartially and the vice-consuls consider all applicants equally during their interviews. Many who have worked with the U.S. Embassy have received visas and we are happy to interview any person that wishes to visit the United States.

Xamiry in Louisiana writes:

Español: Respectable Señor Embajador: Soy una ciudadana Hondureña, viviendo actualmente en Nueva Orleans.

Me siento muy triste por la convulción política, económica, social, educativa y de seguridad que existe en Honduras. Yo me pregunto! porqué el Gobierno de U.S.A no nos ayuda a frenar la corrupción que existe actualmente en Honduras. Que nos diséñe una politica de transparencia fiscal para cada persona que trabaje para el gobierno; que se declare los bienes que poséen antes y después del período Presidencial...pues como es de su conocimiento en Honduras cada cuatro años tenemos nuevos millonarios.

Como Ud. mencionó en cierta ocasión, que en todas partes del mundo hay corrupción y también aquí en U.S.A, pero que en U.S.A el 98% o 99% de esos políticos corruptos están en la cárcel. Creo que Ud como Embajador se entristece de ver como funciona la pólitica en Honduras y que personas sin ninguna preparación académica y por ende no tienen la capacidad de discernimiento y análisis crítico que sólo lo da la educación, sean los que dirijen el destino de nuestro país.

Por favor, Señor Embajador, ayudenos a que los préstamos del Banco Mundial, Fondos para solventar la pobreza, la ayuda del AID y otras ayudas que llegan de U.S.A y otros paises lleguen al pueblo y no a la bolsa de políticos corruptos. Fiscalizar cada dollar que su gobierno nos dona o presta y mucho cuidado con el dinero del Plan Merida para combatir el narcotrafico; ojalá no vaya a surgir nuevos millonarios con este dinero.

English: Honorable Mr. Ambassador: I am a Honduran citizen currently living in New Orleans.

I really feel sad because of the political, economic, social, educational and security convulsions that currently exist in Honduras. I ask myself! Why is the U.S. Government not helping us to stop corruption. The U.S. Government should design a transparency and fiscal policy for each person working in the public sector; so that all declare their earnings before and after their presidential term, because as you may know in Honduras every four years we have new millionaires.

You mentioned on certain occasions that everywhere in the world corruption exists including in the U.S and that in the U.S. 98% or 99% of those corrupt politicians are jailed. I think that you as Ambassador must feel sadness when you see how politics works in Honduras and that people with no academic backgrounds and without good critical analysis or judgment, which only can be granted with academic studies, are the ones leading our country’s future.

Please, Mr. Ambassador, help us with the World Bank loans, the funds to solve poverty, the U.S.AID support and other aids that comes from the U.S. and other countries to make sure that this money reaches the Hondurans, and that the money doesn’t go to the corrupt politician’s pockets. You have to control every single dollar that your government donates or loans us, and you have to be very careful with the Plan Merida’s funding to combat narcotrafficking; hopefully there won’t pop up new millionaires with this fund.

Thank you for your comments. We are aware of the need to assure that those funds from countries and international donors reach the people in need. We work together with other donors in this matter, but we can do it better.

As you may know, and since you live in the United States you’re aware that my country is a country of laws. On many occasions I have mentioned that according to Department of Justice reports between 2001 and 2005, charges were filed against 5,749 public officials in the United States and 85% of them were convicted.

The ones that really choose the future of Honduras are the Honduran voters. The Hondurans are the ones who have to design their policies, including their institutions, to make sure transparency in public expenditures and control of corruption. We will support these efforts.

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Español: Gracias por sus consejos. Estamos muy concientes de la necesidad de asegurar que los recursos de los países y organismos donantes lleguen a los beneficiaros deseados. Trabajamos juntos con los otros donantes en ese respecto. Siempre podemos mejorar.

Jamás dije que 98-99% de los políticos corruptos de EE.UU. están en el carcel. He mencionado que, según cifras del Departmento de Justicia, entre 2001 y 2005 se hicieron cargos a 5,749 funcionarios públicos en todo Estados Unidos, de los cuales 85% fueron convictos.

Los que escogen los que dirigen el destino de Honduras son los votantes hondureños. Son los mismos Hondureños los que tienen que diseñar las políticas e instituciones para asegurar la transparencia en el gasto público y controlar la corrupción. Nosotros podemos asesorar y apoyar esos esfuerzos. Pero la voluntad tiene que originar con el pueblo hondureño, y son ellos los que tienen que hacer los esfuerzos necesarios para transformar las políticas en una realidad.

English: Thank you for your comments. We are aware of the need to assure that those funds from countries and international donors reach the people in need. We work together with other donors in this matter, but we can do it better.

As you may know, and since you live in the United States you’re aware that my country is a country of laws. On many occasions I have mentioned that according to Department of Justice reports between 2001 and 2005, charges were filed against 5,749 public officials in the United States and 85% of them were convicted.

The ones that really choose the future of Honduras are the Honduran voters. The Hondurans are the ones who have to design their policies, including their institutions, to make sure transparency in public expenditures and control of corruption. We will support these efforts.

Carlos in Honduras writes:

Español: Bueanas Tardes señor embajador.
Admiro mucho su pais soy de la linea Republicana, veo mucho las noticias nacionales e intenacionales, he optenido mucha información sobre el calentamiento global, tengo entendido que dentro de poco vencerá la vigencia del protocolo de Kioto, Cree usted que las grandes potencias desarrolladas estan tomando en serio este problema que nos afecta a todos en el planeta?

English: Good afternoon Mr. Ambassador.
I admire your country a lot and I’m on the Republican side, I watch a lot of national and international news, I have a lot of information about global warming, I understand that the Kyoto Protocol will expire very soon. Do you believe that developed countries are taking seriously this problem that affects the entire planet?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Español: Como Ud. debe saber, mi gobierno nunca ratificó el Protocolo de Kioto. El Presidente Bush opinó que no proporcionó una manera efectiva para contrarestar el problema del cambio climático y que el costo que impondría a nuestra economía podría ser muy elevado y no justificado. Pero sí somos miembros del Convenio Marco sobre el Cambio Climático y tomamos en serio el problema. El Presidente Bush a propuesto otros mecanismos y políticas para responder al problema, basados en el desarrollo de nuevas tecnologías energéticas limpias. Somos líderes mundiales en ese respecto. Para resolver el problema, es necesario que todos los países del mundo, no solamente “las grandes potencias desarrolladas” lo toman en serio y participan.

English: Even though my government has not ratified Kyoto Protocol, we are in fact members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and we’re taking this problem very seriously. President Bush has proposed other mechanisms and policies to respond to the problem based on new clean energy technology. Regarding this, we’re world leaders. To solve the problem, it’s necessary that all countries around the world not only “developed countries” take it seriously and participate in developing solutions to it.

Edgar in Honduras writes:

Español: Que podria hacer mi hermano si trato de entrar ilegal en 2 ocasiones a estados unidos per en ambas fue deportado, pero el quiere saber que podria hacer para poder entrar legal,,, si debe pagar algun perdon o algo por el estilo, poner un abogado para poder entrar legal a Estados unidos??

English: What can my brother do if he attempted to enter the U.S. illegally on two occasions and was deported? He wants to know what he might do to enter legally – if he should pay for pardon or something like that, seek legal counsel to be able to enter the U.S. legally.

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Español: Desafortunadamente, no podemos contestarle exactamente lo que su hermano tiene que hacer. Este foro no es para contestar preguntas personales con detalles especificos acerca las visas. Sin embargo, en el caso de alguien que no cree que califique para una visa, la unica cosa que pueda hacer es haga una cita y venga para la entrevista. En el caso de los que han entrado ilegalmente, normalmente no van a obtener el permiso por una duracion que depende de todo el tiempo que pasaron el los EEUU.

English: Unfortunately, we cannot give you a precise answer to what your brother needs to do. This forum is not to answer personal questions with specific details regarding visas. However, given the case that someone believes they may not qualify for a visa, the only thing he/she can do is make an appointment and come to the interview. In the case of those that have entered illegally, they normally will not be given permission to enter for a period of time that depends on how much time they remained in the United States.

Juan writes:

Español: Señor Embajador
A quien podria abocarme para pedir un perdon al pais de estados unidos, para poder pedir una visa en el futuro.

English: Mr. Ambassador
Whom should I approach to request a waiver to the United States, in order to request a visa in the future?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Español: Para saber si alquien califica para un perdon, la unica cosa que puede hacer es pedir una entrevista. Por lo general, la manera mas facil de conseguir informacion acerca de visas de no-inmigrante y del proceso de solicitar una visa, es visitar la pagina de web de la embajada en http://honduras.usembassy.gov donde ampliamos sobre las distintas categorias de visas y el proceso de obtener una visa. Si usted tiene preguntas generales acerca de visas de no-inmigrantes o del proceso de solicitud de visas, tambien puede contactarnos por fax o correo electrónico. Nuestro número de fax es 237-1792 (011-504-237-1792 desde los Estados Unidos). Tambien nos puede contactar por correo electrónico a tggniv@state.gov. Si usted tiene alguna pregunta acerca de un caso especifico, por favor incluya el nombre completo del solicitante de la visa, y su fecha de nacimiento para que puedamos encontrar la informacion que necesita.

English: To know if someone qualifies for a waiver, the only thing to do is to request an appointment and go to the interview. Generally, the easiest way to obtain non-immigrant visa information and the procedure to request a visa is to visit the Embassy’s webpage: http://honduras.usembassy.gov where we inform of the different categories of visas and the procedure to obtain one. If you have general questions about non-immigrant visas or the procedure for requesting a visa, you can also contact us via fax or e-mail. Our fax number is 237-1792 (011-504-237-1792 from the U.S.). You can also contact us via e-mail at tggniv@state.gov. If you have questions about a specific case, please include the visa applicant’s full name and date of birth so we can locate the necessary information.

Samuel in Honduras writes:

Español: Me gustaria saber si existe algun problema para tramitar una visa a una persona en este caso es un hombre el estubo preso por sospechas de trafico de drogas pero esta persona salio en libertad hasta los 3 años ya que no tenia dinero para pagar un abogado pero un defensor publico lo defendio y esta persona salio en libertad absuelto de todo delito y de toda sospecha, en este caso el es una persona cristiano evangelico en este caso fue un error de nombres,en los datos de antecedentes penales de la policia nacional el quedo registrado aun habiendo salido en libertad absolutoria definitiva,el hiso el tramite en la policia de investigasion para que le limpiaran la imagen a esta persona y asi pueda hacer cualquier tramite,lo que hiso la policia de investigacion atravez de la secretaria de seguridad es que el caso de el lo dejaron en pasibo y asi ahora el ya puede hacer los tramites que el antes no pòdia hacer,mi pregunta es podria la embajada americana dar una visa a esta persona para viajar u.s.a el tiene familia recidente en u.s.a y el tiene una novia americana,ella vive aqui en el pais, la visa la nesecita para viajar junto a su novia a u.s.a cada vez que ella viaja a u.s.a a vicitar sus familias y sus amigos,es muy nesecesaria la visa para este hombre de 29 años el recibe muchas invitaciones de missioneros cristianos de varios estados de u.s.a pero el tiene ese inconveniente que no tiene la visa para viajar.estare esperando su respuesta con mucho placer.
gracias embajador Charles A. Ford

English: I would like to know if there would be a problem in processing a visa for a man who was imprisoned as suspect for drug-trafficking, but this person was released three years later after, having no money to pay private counsel, his defense through a public defender and absolved of all crime and suspicion. He is a Christian and his case was one of confusion of names. He has a police record, although the charges were dropped. He processed a request with the Police to clean his name and the Investigation Unit and the Ministry of Security have left the case passive. He can now carry out procedures he couldn’t complete before. My question is: can the U.S. Embassy give this person a visa to travel to the U.S.? He has family that resides in the U.S. and he has a U.S. girlfriend. She lives here, but he needs the visa to travel with her to visit family and friends. This 29-year old man really needs the visa. He received several invitations from Christian missionaries all over the U.S., but he doesn’t have a visa. I will await your reply, Ambassador Charles A. Ford.

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Español: Como ya he mencionado, no podemos contestarle exactamente lo que esta persona tiene que hacer. Todo depende de su situacion y los resultados de la corte y si el ha sido absuelto o no. Por lo general, los que fueron culpables del delito de trafico de drogas no pueden recibir visas. Esta persona tiene que venir para una entrevista y el viceconsul considererá su caso completamente y le aconsejará sobre lo que la ley de los EEUU permite.

English: As I mentioned before, we cannot respond precisely to what a person has to do. It all depends on his situation and the results from the court and whether or not he was absolved. Generally, those guilty of a drug-trafficking crime are not eligible for visas. This person has to come for an interview with and a vice-consul will consider his full case and will advise him of what U.S. law allows.

Carlos in Honduras writes:

Español: Buenas Tardes senor embajador.
Me siento una persona privilegiada de tener la visa norteamericana, no estoy de acuerdo con la migración ilegal, su pais tiene todo el derecho soberano de hacer que se respeten las de migración, su pais se esta llenando de mucha gente que solo va a causar dano y mala imagen a su pais, senor embajador, a pesar de todo lo que se dice del muro de los refuersos en agentes de la patrulla de fronteras, da tristesa ver el flujo de personas que salen diariamente, un alto porcentaje logra pasar porque? Cree que su pais logre controlar el ingreso de ilegales?

English: I feel privileged to have a U.S. visa. I do not agree with illegal immigration. Your country has every sovereign right to demand respect for immigration laws. Your country is getting full of people that only cause damage and give the country a poor image, Mr. Ambassador. In spite of all that is said about the wall and Border Patrol Agents, it is sad to see the flux of people that leave on a daily basis. A high percentage makes it through. Why?

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Español: Los Estados Unidos está haciendo todo lo que puede para ejecutar las leyes migratorias, y a la vez, la Policía de la Frontera hace su parte para detener a los extranjeros indocumentados. Se han implementado nuevas leyes para permitir que los Estados Unidos pueda procesar a los individuos que violan las Leyes Migratorias y a los que se les encuentre culpables, se les va a deportar. Por esta razón no se les va a permitir volver a entrar a los Estados Unidos en el futuro si un Juez Migratorio les ha ordenado su deportación.

English: The United Status is doing everything it can to enforce the immigration laws, and at the same time the Border Patrol is doing its part to curtail the flow of undocumented aliens. New laws have been implemented to allow the United States to prosecute individuals that violate the Immigration Laws and those convicted will be deported. For that reason they will not be allowed to reenter the United States in the future if they have been ordered deported by an Immigration Judge.

Roque in Honduras writes:

Español: Buen dia Sr Embajador
Mi pregunta tiene que ver con la residencia, desde 1996 yo no volvi a viajar teniendo residencia, puedo optar a una visa para visitar a mi familia o no aplico o tengo algun castigo por no volver a viajar? Muchas gracias.

English: Good day, Mr. Ambassador: My question has to do with residency. Since 1996 I have not traveled and I have a residency card. Can I apply for a visa to visit my family? Is there a penalty for my not returning?
Thank you very much.

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Español: Normalmente, los residentes permanentes de los EEUU que no han regresado a los EEUU despues de un periodo de una absencia de mas de un ano han perdido su residencia. En el caso de los que han perdido su residencia, la opcion mejor para regresar es pedir una visa de no-inmigrante aqui en la embajada. Sin embargo, hay otras opciones disponibles y la pagina de internet del Departmento de Seguridad Interna (DHS) tiene mucha informacion: http://www.uscie.gov.

English: Normally, U.S. permanent residents that have not returned to the U.S. after a period of absence greater than one year have lost their residency. For those that have lost their residency, the better option to return is to request a non-immigrant visa here at the Embassy. However, there are other options available and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) website has much more information: http://www.uscie.gov.

Gary in Germany writes:

Sir, what are your comments on this issue? As you will see, this report was released 4 June 2008. Just like Mr. Einstein said" We can not solve the problems while in the same state of mind we created them"

Honduras is principally a source and transit country for women, girls, and boys trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Honduran children are typically trafficked from rural areas to urban and tourist centers such as San Pedro Sula, the North Caribbean coast, and the Bay Islands. Honduran women and children are trafficked to Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, and the United States for sexual exploitation. Most foreign victims of commercial sexual exploitation in Honduras are from neighboring countries; some are economic migrants en route to the United States who are victimized by traffickers. Internal child labor and forced child labor for violent criminal gangs are serious concerns.

The Government of Honduras does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the reporting period, Honduras made strong efforts to increase law enforcement efforts against trafficking offenders and to increase collaboration with NGOs, but government services for trafficking victims, particularly adults, remained inadequate.

Recommendations for Honduras: Increase shelter aid and victim services, or fund NGOs with protection capacity; commence criminal investigations of corrupt officials suspected of trafficking activity; amend anti-trafficking laws to prohibit labor trafficking; and increase collaboration with other countries to bring foreign tourists who sexually exploit children in Honduras to justice

Ambassador Charles Ford:

Thank you for your question on this very important topic. Honduras did take significant steps over the last year to investigate and prosecute human trafficking crimes, however, as stated by the State Department publication of the Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 that you quoted, more must be done. In the 2007 report, Honduras was placed on the Tier 2 Watchlist for its failure to show evidence of increasing efforts to combat human trafficking. Since then, Honduras strengthened its efforts and increased the numbers of investigations, prosecutions, and convictions, and was taken off the Watchlist in the 2008 report. It is still on Tier 2, however, which means more work is needed. Although law enforcement efforts have been strengthened in the two largest cities to combat human trafficking, in other parts of the country there has been little progress. Corruption is a concern with regard to prosecutions. Acts of complicity with human trafficking have been reported among lower-level officials, but there have been no investigations into this matter.

It is important to point out the work of local and international non-governmental organizations operating in Honduras to address human trafficking. They have assisted the government in training law enforcement officials and helped remove victims from trafficking situations. In 2007, the U.S. Government approved a $100,000 grant to the IMO for Building Capacity to Assist Victims of Trafficking in Persons, and a $80,000 grant to Catholic Relief Services (CRS) for Advocacy and Victim Support to Prevent Trafficking in Persons in Honduras. We are pleased to be able to assist these organizations in such important projects.


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