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Praying for Paz Para Honduras
By Jill Dobbe 30-Mar-18
The heavy, clinging smell of burnt rubber hovers in the morning air, while helicopters buzz low overhead. Streets usually packed with bumper-to-bumper lines of vehicles are nearly empty. Banks, stores, offices, and schools are reduced to limited hours. A few walkers scurry along the vacant sidewalks to get to their homes before protesters descend upon the city to loot, set fires, block exits, and battle with the military and riot police. The dispute over the Honduran presidential election continues. Honduras, my home outside the U.S., is under a curfew and state of emergency. We are told to stay inside our homes or be arrested. What began as peaceful protesting on the city streets suddenly turned into a mass of angry demonstrators waving their political party’s flag and raising their indignant fists against the perceived election fraud. Violence and hostility have taken over the streets of this familiar place I now call home. Each night, orange flames shoot high above burning tires that block the main thoroughfares, while la policia congregate en masse tossing tear gas canisters into unruly crowds. Safe behind my locked and gated neighborhood in Tegucigalpa, I await news of the final election results and rely on updates from colleagues, friends, and the news media to tell me what’s happening on the streets. As a female expat that has lived and worked in the capital for the past seven years, I have grown to respect and admire this country—its warm, good-natured people, and its glorious vistas, beaches, and friendly towns. Angry Hondurenos continue to argue for, or against, the presidential election that took place on Sunday, 26 November 2017, when both candidates declared themselves victorious. Despite a number of international observers that descended upon the country to take part in overseeing the ballot counts, the country’s citizens were not convinced the results were accurate. Days later, official word on the next president was still only a rumor. The country’s curfew has now forced most Hondurenos to stay inside their houses, but with no inclination to be silenced, neighbors have instead taken up cacerolazo, loudly protesting by banging on their kitchen pots and pans. Honduras is the seventh country I have lived in while working as an international educator. I love my lifestyle of traveling to different countries, witnessing amazing sites, and experiencing the world’s diverse cultures. I’ve been fortunate to gaze in admiration at the sublime sites of the Taj Mahal in India, the Himalayas in India, the Red Sea in Egypt, and the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. Life overseas however, comes with risks in the way of health, safety, and travel inconveniences. While living on the Pacific island of Guam I survived my first and only super-typhoon. But the Honduran military crackdown and curfew is by far the longest and most serious perilousness I’ve yet to experience. The azure sky above is cloudless and the blazing sun continues to shine upon this captivating and stalwart country, where heavenly bougainvillea and hibiscus bloom in a flurry of vibrant colors. As we continue to wait for the final outcome of the 2017 presidential election, I have no doubt that Honduras will persevere and continue to strive, despite the disorder and present-day mayhem. After all, Honduras has survived so much more—the destruction of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, the military coup in 2009, gang violence, poverty, as well as one of the highest murder rates in the world. But through it all, the strong and resilient Honduran population persists and carries on, holding their families dear, and praying for a safe, peaceful, and incorruptible country.
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