Crypto-libertarian paradise, Próspera, just lost its battle with Honduras

The future of a crypto-libertarian city project in Honduras called Próspera has been flung into doubt. Controversial legislation passed by the Honduran government in 2013 allowed corporations to set up special economic zones with their own laws, regulation, ​​courts, police forces, and schools. Próspera’s founders seized the opportunity to set up a low-tax, fully privatized city-state focused on financial, technological, and medical innovation. 

But on April 21, the newly-elected Honduran congress voted unanimously to repeal the law and the constitutional amendment undergirding it, leaving the existing zones — known as ZEDEs or Zones for Employment and Economic Development — in legal limbo. 

Currently under development on the tropical island of Roatán, Próspera says it has raised more than $100 million from investors to date. Despite the repeal of the Organic Law of the Employment and Economic Development Zones (ZEDE), Próspera says it will plow ahead — setting the development on a potential collision course with the Honduran government. 

President Xiomara Castro celebrated the repeal, saying Honduras was “recovering its sovereignty.” Castro won the presidential election in November 2021 on a manifesto that included shutting down ZEDEs in response to growing outrage over the jurisdictions. A second ratifying vote at the beginning of the legislative period in early 2023 will bring the change into force. Melvin Rosales, an attorney and a Roatán-based politician for the opposition National Party, said that he’s “100% sure that it will be ratified.”

ZEDEs were heavily pushed as a means of stimulating economic development by Castro’s predecessor, former president Juan Orlando Hernández, who was extradited to the U.S. on April 21 to face drug trafficking charges. But fears over sovereignty, land expropriation, and legality all undermined the legitimacy of the project. 

Próspera pitched international investors…


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