Thu, Jun 23, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Honduran official looks to Taiwan

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Porfirio Lobo Sosa, speaker of the Honduran Congress, gestures during an interview yesterday.

PHOTO: CHIEN JUNG-FUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

The speaker of the Honduran Congress, Porfirio Lobo Sosa, said yesterday that he hopes to learn from Taiwan's experience to help his country and win his nation's presidential election in the near future.

"Taiwan and Honduras have a lot of things in common. However, there is a long distance in terms of development ... I really hope to take advantage of Taiwan's experience, especially its amazing economic growth, to help Honduras and its people," he said.

Sosa made the remarks at a press conference called by the Embassy of the Republic of Honduras at the Grand Hotel in Taipei yesterday. Sosa was accompanied by his wife and two other representatives from Honduras' Congress.

Sosa said that the Taiwanese people's hard-working attitude had made a deep impression on him, and he thought this could be a good model for his country.

"I will bring Taiwan's experience back to Honduras to help my fellow Honduras people there," he said.

Asked whether Honduras will turn away from Taiwan if it faces diplomatic pressure from China, Sosa affirmed the ties between the two countries and said that Honduras has no interest in making friends with China.

`long-term' ties

"The relationship between Taiwan and Honduras is a long-term relationship. Even though we do business with the Chinese, it has nothing to do with our friendship with Taiwan," Sosa said. "Honduras will not establish diplomatic relationship with China."

Sosa welcomed Taiwanese investors to Honduras, and noted that Cortes Harbor, the biggest harbor in Central America, is one of the six harbors in the world to enjoy tax-free status for importing products into the US.

Reciprocity

Asked what Honduras could do for Taiwan, Sosa gave an indirect response.

"I am very impressed by what Taiwan and its people did within the approximately 60 years after the government relocated from China," he said. "We [our two countries] started from similar situations, but today there is a great difference between us, while the national income per capita is US$14,000 in Taiwan but only US$948 in Honduras."

After the press conference, however, a senior Taiwanese diplomat to Honduras, Eduardo Chen (陳顯祥), said that the Central American nation could help Taiwan in the international arena.

"He [Sosa] is able to speak out and support Taiwan regarding all the issues that concern Taiwan's future participation in international organizations," Chen said.

Sosa said that maintaining public order will be his priority if he becomes president of Honduras.

Investment

"A safe environment will bring more foreign investors. More foreign investors mean more job opportunities, more foreign tourists and the improvement of our economic growth," Sosa said.

According to Sosa, 64 percent of Hondurans are poor and the country suffers from a high crime rate.

Sosa said that he visited the Taipei City Police Department and was surprised to learn that police officers in Taiwan enjoy bonuses for dangerous missions.

"The police and military personnel in Honduras do not enjoy fat paychecks and that is also one of the most serious problems that we have to fix," he said.

This is Sosa's second visit to Taipei. He previously visited Taiwan in December, 2002.

Sosa is head of Honduras' National Party and has been the speaker since 2002. He has won the support of current President Ricardio Maduro Joest to run for the presidency.

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