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NO. R-108. JOINT RESOLUTION HONORING THE DELEGATION OF DISTINGUISHED HONDURAN LEADERS THAT IS VISITING VERMONT UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE VERMONT-HONDURAS PARTNERS OF THE AMERICAS EXCHANGE PROGRAM AND THE VERMONT ROTARY CLUBS; AND THE EXTRAORDINARY HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE OF THESE ORGANIZATIONS TO THE DEVASTATION IN HONDURAS THAT RESULTED FROM HURRICANE MITCH.

(J.R.S. 49)

Offered by: Senator Shumlin of Windham County.

Whereas, the fostering of democracy and inter-American cooperation through mutually beneficial and rewarding agricultural, cultural, economic, educational, governmental and medical exchanges between the people of the United States and our hemispheric neighbors to the south was President Kennedy's dream when, in 1961, he launched the "Alliance for Progress" (the Alliance) which in turn was based on President Franklin Roosevelt's "Good Neighbor Policy", and

Whereas, the success of the Alliance on a national level inspired Governor Phil Hoff and a dedicated group of Vermonters to establish a parallel program, "Vermont-Honduras Partners of the Americas" (the Partners), that, since 1966, through a one-state-to-one-nation relationship between the people of Vermont and the people of the Central American nation of Honduras, has far exceeded the original goals and expectations of the Alliance, and

Whereas, the Partners has successfully developed close and cooperative relationships between Vermonters and Hondurans, including artists, dentists, doctors, farmers, educators, musicians, public officials and students by mobilizing resources at the community level and drawing on the personal involvement of private citizens to participate in mutually beneficial self-help projects, and

Whereas, a stellar example of a Partners' exchange that reflects the organization's fundamental belief that people can work together to facilitate cross-cultural understanding is the visiting delegation of distinguished Honduran leaders that is comprised of Mayor Hermino Garcia of the city of Lepaera, Mayor Antonio Henriquez of the city of Tomala, Mayor Ricardo Leopoldo Hernandez of the city of Erandique, Mayor Aura Escalante of the city of Mapaluca, Congressman Juan Orlando Hernandez, a member of the Honduran Parliament from the city of Lempira, and Gustavo Perez, a member of the board of directors of a regional hospital, and

Whereas, its visit to the Vermont State House symbolizes the delegation's mission to observe the governing process in our state, the manner in which public policy is devised and implemented, and, in particular, the fundamental role of citizen government, be it in the General Assembly, at Town Meeting, on locally-elected legislative bodies and, most importantly, in the daily lives of Vermonters, and

Whereas, the delegation's members intend to record their observations so that when they return to Honduras they can continue to strengthen their nation's young and still-evolving democratic political institutions, and

Whereas, the greatest challenge for the Partners has been the devastation that Hurricane Mitch left in the wake of its severe battering of the Honduran countryside and urban areas, and

Whereas, in response to this unparalleled disaster in Honduran history that resulted in 7,000 deaths, 2,000,000 Hondurans (more than one-third of the population) being left homeless, and a severe battering of the nation's infrastructure and natural resources, the Partners have raised nearly $100,000.00, all of which has been donated directly to Hondurans in need of medical and other assistance, and

Whereas, following in the Partners' footsteps, Vermont's Rotary Clubs, as part of their long tradition of "service above self," and under the direction of Rotary District Governor Richard Bielefield, have adopted all of the Rotary Clubs in Honduras and have begun a major fundraising effort to finance community rebuilding projects as part of a long-term commitment to the people of Honduras, and

Whereas, symbolizing Vermonters' continuing concern for the Honduran people who are struggling to recover from a natural disaster of a previously unimagined magnitude, a group of students and faculty from the University of Vermont is preparing to embark on a journey to the most remote area of Honduras to build homes for families whose meager financial resources prevent them from building adequate housing, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly is honored to welcome to the State House and its legislative chambers the distinguished delegation of Honduran leaders who are visiting Vermont to observe our unique democratic institutions and the process that so closely involves Vermonters in the governance of their state, and be it further

Resolved: That Vermont-Honduras Partners and the Vermont Rotary Clubs are congratulated for their continuing commitment to aid the hurricane-ravaged Honduran people and to foster inter-American exchanges between our peoples, and be it further

Resolved: That the Secretary of State be directed to send a copy of this resolution to Vermont-Honduras Partners of the Americas, to Richard Bielefield, and to the members of the distinguished delegation of Honduran leaders that is visiting the State House.