Honduras is one of the most underdeveloped countries in Central America. Its government is undertaking the privatization of everything from water to the education system, and it is home to a system prone to human rights violations, where sweatshops abound and gang warfare prompts extensive police violence. In order to deal with these problems, the Honduran people have formed numerous indigenous, campesino, civil rights, and environmental grassroots movements.
Up until the end of the 1980s, with the fall of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and the end of the Cold War, the U.S. funded a strong Honduran military in order to establish a pro-American actor in the region. The Contras and other pro-American forces had needed Honduras as a military base, and therefore it had been the lynchpin for American foreign policy in Central America. As this era ended with pro-American regimes in place in most of the region, Honduras was forced into adopting neoliberal economic reforms to decrease the inflation that was created by the previous, military-controlled governments. The government increased the difficulties of organized labor by favoring large corporations and persecuting community labor leaders, practices which continue today. In maquiladoras, factory workers toil for little pay in inhumane conditions, forced to work overtime and surrounded by barbed wire at all times.
The education system has acute problems, from teachers being fired for their political preferences to the half a million illiterate Hondurans, including many children who are taken out of school to earn money for their family.
The Afro-Honduran Garifuna people, who live on Honduras's North Coast, have a unique culture which differs immensely from the culture of the Honduran cities, where gang warfare and police brutality abound, and giant prison fires have initiated discussion about prisoners' safety.
In various regions such as Olancho, Montaña Verde, and Intibucá, powerful grassroots movements are organizing, with protesters occasionally clashing with police and demanding that the governing elite, headed by President Ricardo Maduro, hear their demands. Environmental movements have focused on the mining industry as their greatest enemy, where cyanide and other harmful chemicals are pumped into the groundwater, and Honduras's rough terrain is eroded. These movements continue to gain power and momentum, as the elite, who with 1% of the population own over 90% of the country's resources, persevere in their exploitative path.