LatinaLista — Earlier this week, Latina Lista published a post opining how the “coup” in Honduras didn’t have all the earmarks of traditional Latin American military takeovers.
Honduran protesters march against the referendum.
(Source: El Heraldo newspaper)
Yet, many readers disagreed pointing to the fact that the military forced the President out of the palace at gunpoint and that many of those same military leaders had received their training at the infamous “School of the Americas.”
Also, the Miami Herald and other publications are reporting that the new government is censoring journalists and repressing protests.
But every Honduran-focused blog that I was able to find (Pensieve, La Gringa’s Blogcito, Honduras Living,) were telling a different story. In fact, at one point, the bloggers were trying to unite to send a message out to their readers to send a message to Obama to explain to him the “real situation” in Honduras.
The people there in the country are saying that the media is presenting a one-sided look at the situation and is actually filing a lot of information that is not entirely accurate.
Some of these Honduran bloggers want to set the record straight.
One of these Honduras-based bloggers is Laurie Matherne. Laurie is an ESL teacher in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. She authors the blog Laurie’s Spot: Thoughts on Honduras, Missions and Justice.
On Sunday, June 28, I awoke to the news that President “Mel” Zelaya of Honduras had been removed from the presidency by the Armed Forces. As a resident of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, I was soon assailed with the sounds of jets and helicopters overhead.
From my perch on the third floor rooftop, my friends and I noted dozens of aircraft, and we hoped for a peaceful day. It was peaceful that day. No blood was shed, no shots were fired. The president, I later learned, was escorted to Costa Rica.
Since that day, however, peace has not prevailed at least in the world-at-large. The city and the country are at peace internally, despite a few protestors who have blocked roads and attempted to throw rocks at a few policemen.
Externally, among the nations, the outcry has been loud and urgent. Mr. Zelaya has the privilege of having the world’s attention and sympathy for the moment as world leaders demand his immediate reinstatement as President of the Republic of Honduras.
He was acclaimed with accolades from socialists and conservatives alike after his remarks before the United Nations earlier this week.
However, Mr. Zelaya is an unlikely poster boy for democracy.
He was elected by a narrow margin in 2005 as a conservative with a populist stance. He wanted to help the poor. However in the nearly four years in office, little of Mr. Zelaya’s goals have been met.
By almost any standard, it’s easy to note the decline in the standard of living in Honduras. Violent crime, rumors of kidnapping, and whispers of drug smuggling from Venezuela were becoming daily conversation.
And as far as democracy and conservatism, Mr. Zelaya admitted that he turned away from the United States, and he began to seek out the help of leftist regimes who could offer more aid.
He became enamored of the Castro brothers and even more so, of Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Mr. Zelaya railroaded the passage of a decree declaring that Honduras would be part of ALBA, the association of social regimes of the Americas. It was widely reported that bribery was used to change the hearts and votes of the elected representatives who voted for the passage of the bill.
As the socialist rhetoric increased, his popularity began to erode. In a quick and disastrous attempt to regain public approval, he signed a decree ordering an overnight increase in the minimum wage by 50 percent.
The effect was immediate. Many of the wage earners lost their jobs as companies could not afford the sudden and dramatic increase. It is estimated that Â¼ to 1/3 of the population of Honduras is unemployed or underemployed.
The banner reads: Because the Good are more and we want to live in peace.
(Source: El Heraldo newspaper)
I have noted in my work in this impoverished country that more children are malnourished. I have seen the rapid deterioration of the infrastructure of the country, particularly in regard to education and transportation.
A general strike was called by the public school teachers of Honduras in January to protest the lack of wages paid, some going back as far as nine months. The roads are deteriorating due to the termination of road construction and repair contracts. There has been no budget submitted from the executive branch thus far this year, and there have been increasingly shortfalls in different sectors of the government.
Public opinion, by and large, outside of Honduras, holds that Honduras is at fault for the ousting of Mel Zelaya. However, does anyone realize that he violated many laws in the weeks leading to his exile?
He had planned a referendum that was designed to allow him to be president for life. The referendum had been ruled illegal by the Supreme Court and the Congress of Honduras last week.
On Thursday, June 25, he announced on live television that he desired for anyone on “his side” to meet him at the Air Force station in Tegucigalpa in order to take the illegal ballots by force. A mob of hundreds joined him, as the air force commanders passively handed over the ballots, which had been delivered that morning from Venezuelan presses.
He then returned exultantly to the airwaves for a two-hour emotionally charged speech, at one point bursting into song, and at other times, mocking the members of the military and assembly.
Is it possible that the coup, if indeed it was a coup, was a good thing?
“For what are military coups, the last weekend in Honduras was strangely democratic,” says an editorial this week in the Wall Street Journal, adding that the Army did not depose president Manuel Zelaya alone, but was following an order by the Supreme Court .
And what about the views of the Honduran people? I have not seen any coverage of the massive and peaceful demonstrations in the capital that have occurred over the past week in favor of the new government.
No one outside of Honduras has mentioned seeing the thousands who gathered in Tegucigalpa before the referendum on July 26 under the banner, “We Want to Live in Peace, Freedom, and Development.”
It’s reported over 15,000 people took to the streets in a peaceful march in support of the new government.
(Source: El Heraldo newspaper)
I have not seen any US media outlet show coverage of the tens of thousands who gathered yesterday in support of the new government. A friend commented on the remarkably one-sided coverage of the crisis, “A few hundred rioters throwing rocks at soldiers and the police and water cannon makes much better news than thousands of supporters holding their hands above their hearts with tears streaming down their face singing the national anthem.”
Honduras is a small and underdeveloped country. It can ill afford the bad reputation that the world has for its leaders. However, I hope and pray that world would consider carefully the events surrounding the removal of Mr. Zelaya.
I am reminded of the words of the prophet Amos:
Do you know what I want?
I want justice–oceans of it.
I want fairness–rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want. Amos 5:24
As rivers and oceans of people are marching across the land of Honduras, one can only hope and pray that the world will take notice of a small country that seeks to live in peace, freedom and development.