Tag Archives: Tegucigalpa

scenes from the “new normal”

Some scenes from Tegucigalpa.  These were taken on a Saturday afternoon, on our normal route in and out of town.  Most are near the Brazilian Embassy, where ousted President Mel Zelaya is.

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a group of soldiers march towards el centro

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graffiti everywhere


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church pollution

Most evangelical pastors agree that the church’s eternal mission should not be affected by political crises.

“I particularly am of the point of view that we cannot pollute our missions as a church by temporary societal causes,” said Peñalba. “We have to learn to live in the new reality being salt and light.”

(from article in Christianity Today)

**Peñalba is the pastor of a large evangelical church in Tegucigalpa

My observations:

church in temporary societal causes = polluted church missions = not being salt and light ??????!!!!!!!!!

being salt and light = learning to live in a new reality??????!!!!!!!

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. Matthew 5:13

temporary societal causes in Honduras right now = power struggles, human rights issues, issues of violence, civil disobedience, peaceful demonstrations, government and more

Here are some famous words of another pastor who had a totally different world view.  A world view that understood that the mission of the church was seeking the shalom of the greater community, which was very much tied up in the temporary societal issues of the 50’s and 60’s in the US.  I’m glad he didn’t decide to accept to “live in the new reality”, which was one of hatred, racism and oppression.

A riot is the language of the unheard.

An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.

Martin Luther King Jr.

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so far, today

6:30 am Snooze beeping alarm
6:50 am Awake and call Guillermo in La Esperanza to say good morning
6:55 am Quiet time
7:05 am Up, shower, breakfast
8:00 am Leave for work (no strikes today!)
8:29 am En route to work, get a call from one of my co-workers saying that she had arrived to the office, but now they were kicking us out because IHNFA is back on strike
8:40 am Change route towards a coffee shop, wait fot he rest of the team
9:15 am Team arrives
9:15 am-11 am Meet with team in order to advance in work, even though we can’t be in the office. Make plans for an investigation we are doing for the Inter Amrerican Development Bank about children who are not under the care of their parents.
11:15 am 2 blocks from coffee shop, have to turn around because a wall of soldiers is coming up the hill, blocking traffic. I guess I won’t be running x, y and z errands I had for that part of town.
11:20 am re-route to another bank to cash paycheck
11:45 am Cash paycheck, pay vehicle registration
12:00 pm Haircut!
12:40 pm 2 blocks from the salon, the streets are totally militarized… I guess that means more changed plans
1:00 pm head home for the rest of the day

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we are crisis

we are 24/7 news

we are constitutions, oligarchy and institutionalism

we are cowboy hats, white t-shirts, face masks and fatigues

we are strikes, curfews and cadenas nacionales

we are a golpe de estado

we are tension, stress and anxiety

we are grafitti

we are polarized

we are fighting on the internet

we are mourning

we are two dead youth

we are thousands sleeping on the ground and hungry for food

we are everything is ok

we are UN, OEA and ALBA

we are quick go home because Mel is coming

we are pastors and cardinals and civic leaders

we are the poor and the rich

we are gorileti

we are in Costa Rica in our pajamas

we are afraid

we are remembering the past

we are negotiating, posturing and manipulating

we are CNN, HRN, Radio Globo, Canal 8 and TeleSur

we are teachers, unions, students and political parties

we are in our homes, we are on the streets

we are militarized

we are hearing helicopters circling the city

we are watching games and telenovelas while everything breaks loose

we are with out electricity all Sunday morning

we are the cuarta urna

we are theology, socialism and capitalism

we are comunists and golpistas

we are peace and democracy and the military

we are two presidents

we are canceling trips and not making plans

we are living in Honduras, where there is no peace without justice.

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Two thoughts keep going through my head: 1.  I never would have imagined this would have happened and 2.  Honduras will never be the same.

The last thing I want to do is argue or debate on my blog about who is right and wrong… there has already been so much polarization and bickering.  Conversations and relationships become awkward as people un-sensitively blast their opinions as fact before considering others.  I mostly want to share about my personal experience of living this and reflect on a few of my observations.   I have been wanting to blog, but my thoughts have needed more brewing.

Personal observations over the last weeks:

  • There is a lot of corruption in Honduras (and in the world at large).  Mel and Micheletti are both well known for being crooked politicians and manipulators of the people.  It is crazy to me that people would say that either of them is saving the country from the hands of criminals and destroyers of democracy.
  • It is a radical experience for me to be living in these conditions… manipulated, controlled, oppressed.  We have had a curfew for around a week.  It has ranged from as early as 6:30 pm to as late as 11 pm.  The day they took Mel to Costa Rica, they turned the power off in the whole city of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula for the morning.  News channels have been simply taken off of the air.  Major media outlets are laughably biased.  I watched a video on CNN of military shooting out the tires of buses on their way to the city to protest.  Two friends were observing a pro-Mel protest at a distance (sitting down).  They were grabbed by the back of their shirts and taken for questioning, just because.  Monday and Tuesday the new government and most of the media proclaimed the message “everything is ok”.  Meanwhile, no other country was recognizing the new government and was condemning the actions as a coup.
  • Part of why Honduras will never be the same is the polarization that is happening.  Every day, on Facebook, on the internet, in conversations… people fight.  The prominent leaders of the evangelical and catholic churches have taken positions against Mel.  The city is COVERED in graffitti against what happened.  Divisions between the poor and the rich grow deaper.

A friends shared the African proverb: “When the elephants fight, the grass suffers.”  Here are a few tangible examples:

  • This is the high season for short term mission groups and tourism.  Every NGO/church/reatreat center I have talked to has had all their groups cancel.  Some are wondering how they will make it as this is the income that tides them over for the year.  The airport was shut down for almost a week.  These are jobs and vital income in the balance.
  • Normal activities are disrupted.  We usually have small group on Friday nights.  Not anymore until the curfew is lifted.
  • People are living with a very high level of stress- we can atest to this!!  Last week we were anxiously awaiting Mel to see what would happen… violence?  conflict?  His arrival was delayed from Thursday to Saturday to Sunday.  Every day is wait and see.
  • My work is integral with IHNFA (social services of the Honduran gov).  We have hardly worked since this began.  First because most offices were closed due to safety issues.  Then because the union was on strike in favor of Mel.  Now the new President has changed the IHNFA director and everything is in the air.  That change happened yestreday and today and tomorrow the union is on a strong strike, closing down the main building and the building where our office is.  Wasted time?  yes.  Jobs in the air?  yes.  Children’s cases not being handled effectively because people are not working or the adminstration is in transition?  yes and most important.

What can I say?  I think it was wrong to use force as they did.  I think other diplomatic efforts could have been exhausted first and maybe this elephant fight would have been averted.  Paraphrasing what the President of Argentina said at the AOS, I am not defending Mel.  I am against how things have been handled and the conditions under which we have been living now.  I am arguing against force for the sake of peace.  We can not get in an argument with someone, punch them and then cry “Peace!  Peace!” This isn’t about who we like better, Mel or Micheletti.  It is about how we live with each other, how we treat each other, how we resolve conflicts, how we seek Shalom for our world.

Sometimes I get a little glimpse of the reality of the opressive economic and political system found in Honduras.  The other night, a friend told us about his job over dinner.  He is a store manager for a large appliance/furnitre store.  It is a chain here, but the owners are in Mexico.  They sell at interst rates that turn out to be up to 50% annually.  They ask for payments weekly, even though that never works out for the client beceause people get paid monthly.  It is a system totally designed to doop the buyer, get as much money possible out of them through fees and interest and take advantage of those with little financial sense.  Large companies, conveniently arranged as groups, avoid taxes by the millions.  Clothing factories, a major source of jobs and substancial part of the economy are free of unions.  I don’t like to see the grafitti, but I can also understand the anger of those who recognize the oppresive systems under which they live.

Where are the leaders?  Where are the leaders who love the people?  Where are those who seek justice and are willing to make sacrifices to promote it?  Where are the prophets?  Where is the church?

This morning I was brewing these thoughts as I was looking at the graffiti all over a bank and I got so mad!!!  There are deep injustices here that hide behind painted facades of noble businesses, democratic processes and almighty laws.  Evil in its essence.

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violence by the numbers

3 taxi drivers murdered by gangs this week in Tegucigalpa

10 people murdered in 2 separate incidents last weekend in Tegucigalpa

9 people murdered in Yoro (up north) today

3 other murder related articles in the “happenings” section of today’s newspaper

12 drug smuggling planes that have been caught or crashed in Honduras this year

40+ reported kidnappings in Honduras so far this year

3 girls escaped to the streets today, fleeing the government run orphanage where my office is located

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