Sunday, October 25, 2009


A friend recently asked me to give him a little insight into what is going on in Honduras. Apparently the media is not reporting a lot on the issue back home, but the little information that does get through tends to portray a misleading scenario of military juntas, dictatorship, mass protests, repression, encroachment on social liberties etc. etc.  Of course, many of these have elements of truth in them, but the way they are being reported is having a harmful effect on how Honduras in viewed in the world and consequently making it look like a lawless country that has regressed back to dark and primitive days.

Many have taken to liking the situation to the military coups that plagued Central America during the 80's, but the reality is nothing like that. The army's role was to remove Zelaya from office, as the Courts had decreed. Since then their involvement hasn't gone beyond law enforcement. Of course we can argue about the rights and wrongs of doing so, but the point is that he wasn't removed in order to place a "dictator" in his place. Although many like to call the interim president just that, Micheletti's official role was to step into the role of president until the elections take place in November. This doesn't make him a dictator, and even less a military dictator. 

It is true that propaganda is rife, that there was a brief ban on radio stations, newspapers and TV channels that incited violence against the current government, that the government has banned gatherings of 20+persons, that during the early days and after Zelaya's return the population had to endure meaningless and annoying curfews, that the current government doesn't come across as truthful and their motives are probably not as legitimate as they like to preach, all these are serious issues that need to be addressed, but the whole affair is miles away from the "military junta" scenario that is being portrayed out there and this needs to be told. 

From my experience, and from the experience of all the other travellers that I have met during my time in Central America, "Post-Coup Honduras" is not a lawless and dangerous place to visit. Myself and Oisin arrived in Honduras a few days before Zelaya's return to the country. His return was met with enforced curfews on the whole population. First the ban lasted one whole day, and from then on it was gradually reduced until it was completely abandoned two weeks later. Military and police checks were everywhere. If you got on a bus, you'd be guaranteed three or four police and army checks where you had to get off the bus, men would be checked for weapons by male officers, and if there was a woman then the women would be checked also. Everyone had to show ID. Yes all this happened, but never once did we feel threatened by it. The police and army were always professional, friendly and just doing their job, never once did I see evidence of abuse of power. Ok, maybe the situation would have been different if they found a Zelaya supporter armed with explosives on his way to the capital... but quite frankly, from having spoken to a few of them, I don't think Zelaya's supporters care enough to try anything extreme. 

Most people, whether in favour or against Zelaya's ousting, wanted things to return to normal. They want the tourists back in their country. They want the world to know that while their political leaders are playing games with each other, that life goes on for them, and that it is safe to visit their country. 

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