Paul recently sat down with Vox’s Romesh Vaitilingam to discuss charter cities at a blue-sky conference on development policy organized by the University of Warwick’s Center for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
Here’s an excerpt:
Romesh: In the context of Honduras that you’re exploring with the government here and presumably trying to get the interest from other governments around the world, talk a little bit about how you see this would directly affect the people of Honduras, the kind of people that are facing a rather lawless country and want to escape to opportunities perhaps in richer parts of the world. How might this play out for them?
Paul: Well, unfortunately, Honduras is now under increasing threat from the drug gangs, which have been migrating towards Central America from both Mexico and Columbia. They’re facing a worsening security situation. For many years, Hondurans who wanted to live and work in a big city did so by moving to the United States. Honduras doesn’t have something like a Los Angeles where you could live and work. Big cities are the opportunity zones especially for the working poor.
Right now, they take huge risks to go through Mexico to get to the United States. One of the things this system would do would be to create a place that could have those kinds of opportunities, but would be right next door, be a place where you could take your whole family. It could be a place where you could have permanent legal residence compared to the United States where most Hondurans have no legal residency rights.
So, it could be a huge boon to the people who feel that their best option is to try to go to the United States. And it could be a boon for Honduras and for the region to have all of that talent and all of that activity happening right close by, rather than a thousand miles away.