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Honduras: impending miseries and resistance

29 September 2009

With the suspension of civil liberties and constitutional rights by the coup that justified itself after the fact on the grounds that it had to protect the constitution from a theoretical threat, there doesn’t seem to be much concern for dealing with the country’s real and chronic problems.

It was only when the salario minimo was raised that there was even a hint that Manuel Zelaya was somehow more corrupt or demogogic than any other Honduran leader, and — with the coup leaders (aka the “de facto government”) apparently willing to let the country’s economic life come to a screeching halt while it turns its compete attention to its own survival, the basics of life in the hemisphere’s second poorest country are ignored.

A priest in the Diocese of Copán’s Sunday sermon was taken from the Epistle of James:

Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries.
Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten,
your gold and silver have corroded, and that corrosion will be a testimony against you; it will devour your flesh like a fire. You have stored up treasure for the last days.

Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.

You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure; you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter.
You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous one; he offers you no resistance.

With the press censored, it is getting difficult for ordinary people to find independent sources of news.  I notice that “Gente Blog” — which is still up this morning — is set up under a Honduran investment and travel site, but is running a mirrored version of a server in Tokelau — a “non-self governing territory” of New Zealand, at genteblog.tk.  Honduras, aside from being one of the poorest nations in the Americas, also has the lowest home computer usage rates in the Hemisphere*.  12 percent of Cubans, who we think of as information isolated, and 11 percent of Haitians (the poorest of the Americans) are reached by the internet, but only 8.4 percent of Hondurans.

Still, unless the “de facto government” is willing to shut off electricity and seize computers (I wouldn’t put it past them), the internet is going to be the best way to get independent information in and out of the country, since Honduras — unlike China — doesn’t have the capacity to block access in any meaningful way.  And that 8.4 percent includes a lot of people like school teachers and church workers, who can pass along what is known.

That said, I received an email from Caritas (the Catholic social service agency in Honduras) that their weekly bulletin will be putting out updated information on the “situation” in their country, and I’ll be happy to pass along whatever is sent this way (email address:  richmx2 [at] live.com).

* I changed this sentence to read “home computer” because “Boz” (comment #1) is correct that in Latin America, most computer users go to internet cafes… which still limits both availability of access and makes it relatively easy for the government to limit access, either by shutting down cafes, or monitoring what users view.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 29 September 2009 9:20 am

    The website you mention is pessimistic and outdated in their internet connectivity statistics (as are most of the statistics online). The problem is that they measure internet usage the same way they do in the developed world, but the countries of Latin America (and Africa) connect to the internet differently than the US or Europe (the biggest difference is that most people don’t have personal computers or home internet connections, which is the bulk of the measurement in the US).

    Based on better research I’ve seen and worked on, I’d say a minimum of 25% of Honduran citizens, and potentially as high as 1/3, have some way to access the internet (often through work, school, internet cafes, friends, or portable devices) and can do so on a regular (at least once per month) basis. It’s still correct to say it’s among the lowest in the hemisphere, but 8% is an absurdly low estimate.

  2. 29 September 2009 1:30 pm

    The reading from James was to be read in all Catholic churches throughout the world last Sunday but I wonder how many Catholics heard a homily on this reading. In fact in Tegucigalpa the chancellor of the archdiocese used his sermon to compare those calling for insurrection with devils. What the priest here did that was good was to broaden the critique from the rich to all of us in the congregation.

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