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Honduras rebuilds after the hurricane

When hurricane Mitch washed away the bridges, houses and crops of Honduras two years ago, many of its banks remained open and the staff at the finance ministry came into work. The authorities wanted to give a message: business as usual. The economy survived the devastation and recovery is now under way. But Honduras had to seek help from the multilaterals and the Paris Club. And that comes at a price, reports Nick Kochan

"It was like nothing had happened," says Victoria Asfura de Diaz, the president of the central bank, recalling the calm Financial market reaction to a powerful natural disaster. "There was no run on the banks.

Asfura de Diaz: "We regard our reserves as sacred"

Everybody behaved properly. They had trust and confidence in the system." Brave words.

As the country has picked up the pieces and rebuilt its infrastructure, the damage to the economy and Finances of Honduras has been acknowledged. Mitch killed thousands of people, destroyed or damaged 100 bridges and wiped out some 70% of the crops. The vital coffee and banana plantations, in particular, were devastated. Banana exports were the worst hit by the hurricane with an expected $309 million-worth of exports in 1999 falling to $47 million. Exports as a whole fell back to levels not seen since 1995.

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