The news cycle has been dominated by coverage of the caravan of migrants making their way from Honduras to the US border. As an American citizen who emigrated from Venezuela, I sympathize with their plight. However, their exodus from Honduras is disappointing, as it’s a story I’ve seen play out before. Without driven and motivated individuals staying and fighting for a brighter future, situations in Honduras and other Central American countries have no hope of improving.

I say this not as a distant observer, but as someone who has also fled a Latin American country in search of a brighter future in the United States. I saw the direction in which the Venezuelan government was heading and the rapidly deteriorating conditions in my home country and quickly began looking for an escape route. Rather than stay and fight against these forces to create a more prosperous future for my homeland, I fled to the United States.

The conditions in Venezuela today have proven my fears to be justified. The IMF predicts the inflation rate will soon top an unimaginable 1,000,000%, while many households do not have access to electricity and clean drinking water. Food is so hard to come by that Venezuelans lost, on average, 24 pounds per person last year, while 90% of Venezuela’s population falls below the poverty line. The elites sold the country of Venezuela to the devil in pursuit of corrupt self-interest, all at the expense of the well-being of the people.

But things didn’t have to turn out this way. Young political and economic leaders could have rallied support against the socialist policies which have decimated the country. The conditions for catalyzing prosperity could have been created, allowing entrepreneurs to create jobs and opportunities for the Venezuelan people. But why didn’t this happen?

Because a great many young and driven individuals who could have made a difference chose to run away instead of fighting for a brighter future.

Hondurans, don’t make the same mistake myself and many other Venezuelans did. You can do far more good for your country, your family, and your children by channeling the determination and grit required to make the trek to the United States toward making Honduras a better, freer, and more prosperous place.

Unlike Venezuela, whose leaders chose their own self-interest over those of their fellow citizens, the Government of Honduras has done the opposite as both the people and the elites fought to preserve constitutional order and prevent a Chavez-like takeover or the Republic’s institutions. At the same time, the leaders of Honduras created a powerful constitutional tool young Hondurans can leverage to put their country on the path to prosperity. This tool, crafted with the input and participation of Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Romer,  is called the ZEDE regime (Zones of Economic Development and Employment). These small zones allow for the enactment of high-impact reforms without the hurdles and barriers of fighting against entrenched special interests at the national level.. Passed in 2014 by a bipartisan majority of the Honduran Congress and affirmed in their constitution by the Honduran Supreme Court, this ZEDE law provides the perfect tool to attract foreign investment that will create thousands of jobs for Hondurans, mitigating their need to find opportunity beyond their borders.

As an active investor in Central America for over a decade, I recognize the powerful social impact tool that these ZEDEs represent. This is why I am proactively seeking to make investments into Honduras. I encourage other like-minded US citizens to consider the same.

Let’s not allow the same fate of the once great country of Venezuela to befall Honduras. If the untapped potential of young Hondurans who stay in their home country can be unleashed, then real prosperity will follow.

Young Hondurans, for the good of your family, friends, and fellow citizens, don’t travel to the United States illegally. Stay in Honduras and catalyze the prosperity you seek in your home country.