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Guest Voz: Honduran blogger sets record straight on real story in Honduras

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 ¼ 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.”
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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.

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  • Horace
    July 2, 2009 at 8:27 am

    I dislike Obama, and think that his policies will destroy this country, but I don’t think that having our military escort him to the Mexican border is the solution, an interesting a pleasing thought, but not a solution.

  • Horace
    July 2, 2009 at 9:32 am

    “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.”
    What is the nexus between the Honduras military training and the “School of the Americas”? If this is like most military schools, they do not teach political doctrine or the overthrow of governments. You fail to make a connection between the two in your sentence.

  • Bianca
    July 2, 2009 at 10:01 am

    I appreciate your posts on Honduras and respect your stance on Zelaya’s presidency and ousting, but for the sake of anyone who actually does like Zelaya, could you please post somebody’s account that sees it a different way?
    I know that other countries are demanding his return and that you believe that his ousting was not necessarily a bad thing, but has anyone heard from a POOR person in Honduras? I don’t care about the elite, I care about the POOR people, and particularly the poor women who have had to live under Zelaya’s rule.
    I do not mean to discredit Laurie Matherne’s take on Zelaya, but we are only outsiders. It seems like Matherne’s stance is not in favor of leftist or socialist politics, so how about featuring somebody who is a leftist (even socialist or communist, as this article casts it as a horrible thing that helps no one) so that everyone gets a fair share of their voices heard?

  • Joe Ortiz
    July 2, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Congratulations Marisa!
    This blog from Laurie is an affirmation that much (if not all) of American media is a mere tool for the world’s money-changers, who irresponsibly move its politicians to the left or right, all pawns in the greater scheme of corporate profits. As Laurie stated concerning Amos’prophecy (5:24), God will see to it that the innocent citizens of Honduras will receive fairness and justice, now or in the eternity!
    Keep up the great work!
    Tu Amigo,
    Joe Ortiz, author
    The End Times Passover

  • thepoliticalcat
    July 2, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Pardon my scepticism, but this is not a Honduran blogger. This is a gringa who blogs from Honduras. Third World history is full of examples of Westerners residing there who “support revolutions” that end up benefiting themselves more than anyone else. I’d like to hear from a native of Honduras, assuming that one can be found who dares to speak publicly.

  • El Guapo
    July 2, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Evidently Laurie doesn’t get it either. The President violated the law. There are procedures through which to follow to enforce the law.
    When some in the U.S. Congress wanted to impeach Clinton, they didn’t organize the military to storm the White House and extradite him to Canada. Did they? No. Thankfully they followed the procedures outlined in the Constitution and other U.S. laws.
    Please provide an answer to this question: Do two wrongs make a right?

  • Marisa Treviño
    July 2, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    If you read any of the other bloggers to whom I linked to in the post, you will see that they all are saying the same things.

  • Marisa Treviño
    July 2, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Do two wrongs make a right? No, of course not but I am suspending my definition of what is wrong with a forced removal by the military and considering the possibility that in a country that only knows how to remove people from office who are abusing power with a military escort to maybe not fit their definition of bad.
    I wonder. If we had a president who was so openly abusing power and contradicting the rulings of the other branches of government to enforce their agenda, what would we do? Would we wait for the next election? Congress would most probably begin impeachment proceedings but what if the president didn’t recognize the impeachment process and refused to leave the White House? Would others in the government sit idly by and let the president have his way? Let him/her finish their term? How would we remove him/her?
    Thankfully, we’ve never had to do it but what would we do?

  • John
    July 2, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    I have been closely following the events unfolding in Honduras. Many thanks indeed for sharing as you are doing. Factual information is hard to come by outside of Honduras as you have noted. It seems to me that a bigger game is being played out, a game between Obama and Chavez, and Honduras just happens to be a little (disposable) country caught in the cross fire.
    I find the response of the OAS and UN appalling even as I am not entirely surprised. Fidel Castro proclaimed the OAS an unburied cadaver. Perhaps for once in his miserable life he got it right.
    I am totally with the people of Honduras. The ousting of Zelaya, while perhaps a tad clumsy, was a move in the correct direction, it seems. Keep up the great work, you are a credit to your country, and freedom.
    And rest assured that if Chavez and his mobs so much as touch a hair of your heads I will personally jump on an aircraft, fly across the Pacific, and stand with the people of Honduras against the neo-communist bully from Venezuela and his bully henchmen.
    PS I won’t bring a gun but love and a pen.

  • Marisa Treviño
    July 2, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Bianca, I wish I could find a blogger – Spanish or English — who is defending Zelaya but I’ve tried and I can’t. In response to the criticism that our guest blogger was not a native Honduran, here’s a blog in Spanish from a native Honduran who left the country two years ago and is blogging about events in Honduras –
    In an interesting article, the blogger links to this editorial ( in a magazine from Costa Rica who saw the handwriting on the wall when it comes to Zelaya. I’m sorry to say I don’t have time to translate the article but hope you can read it.

  • laurie
    July 2, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Here are a few links from Honduras voices.
    This is all I could find. I really am sincere when I say there is virtually no one in favor of Zelaya. He did little to help the poor.

  • Laurie
    July 2, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    Here is another blogger who was born in Honduras, and now lives in Mexico.

  • Paola
    July 3, 2009 at 1:28 am

    I was born and live in honduras I am poor and I don´t support Manuel ZeLaYA.He was paying $50 for people to vote so he can be re-eleted. He is friends wih Chave and wants to turn mi country into a socialist counry. H
    He is involve in drug dealing and many oder inlegal acts.
    Believe the people that support him are pay by him. Dont beleive what he says you only have his side of the stoty. He was notify that he was going to be arrested and was given the oportunito to go to Costa Rica for a fair trial. He is a liar.
    Yo think that a president who really loves his contry would have allow all the international sanction to his country and be sitting there making himself look good and his contry look bad to th world?
    That man is a real thief Who cares only for himself. They found today 4 million dlollar in her 24 old daughters bank account, and 3 million cash in his presidencial office. Al given by Chavez to bride the people to voto for that ilegal survey he was planning. I vote for him to be President I believe all his lies. But he is jus a souless criminal. We HONDURANS the real people that love our country WHANT HIM IN JAIL.
    I have pove for everything I writing here i can even post a link to a video in wich on live tv he admitted to have wi the elctions with fraud
    English is not my anguage so I apologize for any spellign or grammar mistakes.

  • Paola
    July 3, 2009 at 1:48 am

    Response to “El guapo”
    What it is you have a president who refuses to leave the White House even though he has 17 criminal charge against him. A president who mugs his Army, Congress and Court Supreme by telling on National Tv HE IS ADOVE THE LAW?
    Militars went to ARREST Mr. Zelaya to his home like any oder white neck criminal, but his 10 bodyguards started shooting!!!!
    He was taken to Costa Rica to protect him!!!!
    If he should have stay in the cuntry mostikely he´ll be dead by now.
    He is invlove with drug dealing and most of them have given him money.
    Do you think the mob was gonna be happy him arrested, canceld his accounts and lose their money????
    NOoooooooo they would have KILL HIM HERE!!!
    He betread his country to get International Support and give time to Chavez and Ortega the chance to plan a new strategy.
    By the way would you allow a President to turn your contry into a really really much more poor Venezuela or Cuba???
    We dont have oil, we can support us.
    Our economy depends in Private Comapnies and international investors.
    Yes we are poor but we are free and we wanna stay that way.

  • Horace
    July 3, 2009 at 7:26 am

    “Would others in the government sit idly by and let the president have his way? Let him/her finish their term? How would we remove him/her?
    Thankfully, we’ve never had to do it but what would we do?”
    For one thing, congress could impeach the president and they could also separate him from treasury funds by de-funding resolutions. With no money, federal institutions cannot carry out the president’s intentions. Also, in the case of our government, employees are sworn to uphold the Constitution. Federal employees are not obligated to carry out the will of the president if his demands include violating the law. The result becomes a paralyzed presidency.
    Marisa, it’s interesting that your inclination to support the Honduran military seems to reflect your rebelliousness against our own government to enforce our immigration laws. When you can’t get your way through our legislatures, you’re not above getting it through force. Your inclinations scare me.

  • Laurie Matherne
    July 3, 2009 at 8:05 am

    Yesterday 5,0000 Hondurans marched in favor of the regime change in New Orleans, long considered Honduras’ third city. I am from New Orleans. It’s a poor city, and not all of those marchers were the elite of Honduras. The legal Hondurans that I know are middle class people who are teachers, restaurant owners and the like. And of course, the thousands of illegal ones who struggle to make it their home as well.

  • Marisa Treviño
    July 3, 2009 at 9:01 am

    Puhleeze Horace. As you so often like to tell me that I’m comparing apples to oranges, don’t you think it’s the same in this case? You’re comparing an established democracy where respect for the laws and Constitution are ingrained in all of us from an early age. And where no self-respecting politician would ever blatantly abuse power that would warrant his forced removal other than impeachment. In Central America, where that same democratic history is not shared, why is it so hard to believe they would revert to a method removing someone from power that has been effective in the past? It doesn’t mean that the outcome would be same. The world is assuming it will be but where is the real proof, especially when you have people on the ground saying otherwise?

  • Bianca
    July 3, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    From my understanding, Zelaya was more of a right-wing politician before his relationship with Chavez. It seems as if the people mainly don’t think he has done enough, and it’s probably true. At first he really wasn’t for the poor, and apparently he has tried to have a change of heart since his association with Chavez, but it doesn’t seem to have gained the approval of the poor.
    I understand the rationale for the coup, but I still don’t think I approve of it. If people are losing communication with other countries and their voices are being shunned, I can’t support that. He needs to be put on trial if the majority of the citizens think he needs to be kicked out. I don’t think this temp. president is any better than Zelaya was or is.
    This is only my understanding though from many of the sources I have read. It’s ok if you don’t agree with me. I just think that people need to consider the poor in these circumstances when we aren’t living through the situation.
    Thanks for the links, Laurie. I will continue to look for more voices on the issue.

  • Cynthia
    July 4, 2009 at 4:15 am

    In SPS two days ago 60,000 people gathered you can see the pictures at my blog
    I was at the protest and it was huge and energizing.
    We aren´t giving in and this wasn´t a coup it was a legal removal of a corrupt thug. Chavez has admitted they were planning on dictatorship at all costs and stands by that plan even if it comes to bloodletting…US what do you say now?

  • Horace
    July 6, 2009 at 5:37 am

    “We aren´t giving in and this wasn´t a coup it was a legal removal of a corrupt thug.”
    Really? If so then where in the Honduran constitution does it give the military the right to decide and act against the civilian government? Is this how the Honduran people will conduct their business from now on, dependent upon the military to decide for them as to who becomes their leader?
    Whose fault is this Irma, the U.S.? No this is purely Latin America in tradition, indicative of the typical political immaturity characteristic of that part of the world. It’s no wonder that part of the world gets so little respect.

  • Maria Taylor
    July 15, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    After witnessing CNN erroneous reporting of the Honduran crisis, I am never going to believe anything they report.
    For those that believe Zelaya is the great socialist portrayed by the media. Last September at the 63rd United Nations Assembly, Warner Dahrin, president of the G16, scolded Zelaya for not presenting an approved Poverty Alleviation Plan, putting the country at risk of losing funding. Obviously that was not a priority for him, extending his presidency was.

  • Horace
    July 17, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    “Puhleeze Horace. As you so often like to tell me that I’m comparing apples to oranges, don’t you think it’s the same in this case? You’re comparing an established democracy where respect for the laws and Constitution are ingrained in all of us from an early age.”
    I guess that we mustn’t have high expectations of Latin America. You’re the consumate apologist for Latin American dictatorship, Marisa. That’s probably why you seem to accept the corrupt government of Mexico so easily. How many years must we wait for democratic Latin America?

  • arturo fernandez
    July 18, 2009 at 1:20 am

    “How many years must we wait for democratic Latin America?”
    Horace, it took how long for blacks to be granted rights in the US? The US was a racist nation longer than some Latin American nations have been independent, let alone democracies. It’s been less than ten years since the PRI dictatorship ended in Mexico, and progress since then has been astounding. Whatever is happening in Honduras (I have no idea) military coups are practically history. In such a short time, it’s amazing.
    Democracy is fast coming to Latin America because in our age borders are disappearing, specially due to the internet. Travel is easy and cheap. Millions of latinos living in the US are taking ideas of freedom and democracy from the US as they travel back to their old countries to visit family and friends–just one of the many ways illegal immigration has been a good thing for everyone.
    But of course there are those who want to see borders and people divided. How sad.

  • Horace
    July 18, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    Actually, Fernandez, we already permit more visa holders into this country than all other countries combined. Furthermore, it is the universally held right of every nation to be sovereign and control the movement of peoples across their borders. To say that those who demand the control of our borders are restricting the exchange of political ideas is bull shit. And political discourse is hardly constrained by controls on borders, as the internet and other media permit it without the need for the inefficiency inherent in personal travel. It is the open borders crowd that is behind the information transfer curve in asserting that actual physical movement is mandatory to promote political change. Ideas move across borders without immigration.

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