On this blog, I often discuss my high hopes for the future of Latin America as well as my belief that given the right enabling conditions, the potential of Latin Americans to flourish and prosper is nigh limitless.
Nowhere is this truer than in Honduras. Hondurans, when properly enabled by proven and world-class institutions, can achieve amazing things. Consider, for example, what happens to the income of Hondurans when they move to the United States. While the GDP per capita of Hondurans in Honduras is a little more than $2500, the GDP per capita of Hondurans in the United States is over $24,000. That nearly tenfold increase in income isn’t because moving to the United States somehow magically makes those Hondurans 10 times more productive. No, it’s because the United States’ world-class economic, legal, political, and regulatory institutions create the conditions for those Hondurans to flourish.
Some Hondurans have been able to achieve far more than a 10x increase in income by moving to the United States’ world-class institutions, however. Hondurans can become industry leaders with a massive impact on the world if given the proper enabling conditions. Below, I profile a few such individuals to illustrate the heights Hondurans can reach when good institutions give Hondurans the tools they need to craft their own destiny.
Carlos Mencia is a successful actor, comedian, and writer in the United States. He was born the 17th of 18 children in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, but was brought to the United States while still a young child. Mencia used his humble upbringing to bring light to the world, becoming a comedian and actor. He eventually climbed to the top of the entertainment industry, starring on the Dave Chappelle Show, hosting his own TV show on Comedy Central for years, and appearing in over 13 TV shows and movies. He even starred in a Superbowl commercial for Bud light in 2007.
Mariebel Lieberman is the owner of Mariebelle Chocolates, a company Forbes has called one of the fastest growing in America. Lieberman was born in rural Honduras along with her eight brothers and sisters, where they tended to cocoa fields. Upon graduating high school in Honduras, she moved to New York City, looking to engage in the fashion industry. Lieberman worked hard and saved money, eventually creating the opportunity to open her very own chocolate store in 2000. Mariebelle Chocolates has been wildly successful, with several stores in Manhattan and even branches in locations across Japan.
Miguel Estrada is a successful Honduran lawyer who was nominated to the United States Court of Appeals by George W. Bush. He was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and migrated to the US at age 17 in search of a better life. He found great success by diligently working at his English until he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. He has since served in a number of positions in the US Attorney’s Office and US Department of Justice. Supreme Court Justice Elana Kagan commended Estrada as “a towering intellect” with “a prodigious capacity for hard work,” also remarking that “no one I know is a more faithful friend or a more fundamentally decent person”. He is now a partner at a highly prestigious private law practice in Washington, DC.
Marvin Moncada is a Honduran-American researcher at Louisiana State University who pioneered what is known as “submicronization” of salt. This new process would allow for the manufacturing of salt crystals in far smaller sizes than had previously been feasible. This submicronization is much more bioavailable, meaning it is more easily absorbed by the human body than regular salt. The implications for this are staggering: thanks to its increased bioavailability, industrial food manufacturers could use Moncada’s technology to cut their salt consumption in half.
Prosperity: Coming Soon
As these examples show, individuals can soar and achieve great heights when given the right conditions. This includes those born into dire circumstances where opportunity is scarce. It is a tragedy that so many around the world, including many in Honduras, do not currently find themselves living in enabling conditions like the Hondurans profiled above.
My team and I are working hard to change that. We hope to bring world-class institutions to Honduras, giving all Hondurans the enabling conditions to thrive, without having to travel thousands of miles away from home.
Honduras Próspera is coming soon.