On a day like today five years ago, I woke up with the noise of military planes crisscrossing the skies, and without light, without water, without news. It was the 28th of June, 2009 and the chronicles of the impossible were yet to be written. Let me explain myself: in the entire world, even in Honduras, our generation thought that coups d’état had passed into history and in this new century, what we hoped for was the strengthening of democracy, the achievement of new rights, in sum, the continuing advance towards the building of a better world and a better country.
At the beginning when we arrived, women and men from various sides, in front of the Presidential House, our first thought was that neither this country, nor the world, was going to permit this coup which would signify an enormous set-back for all the democracies on the planet. We thought this on the first day, on the second day, and then for almost a whole year. This is going to pass, we repeated, it can’t last long. To our surprise, not only did it come to pass, but it came to pass in less than six months, in the face of the passivity of the great powers including the United States.
Later, a right-wing government was imposed, elected by a minority of the population, the followers of Porfirio Lobo Sosa. Later, we thought, a change would be possible by means of the ballot boxes of the Liberty and Refoundation Party (LIBRE) which unites a good part of the Honduran resistance. To our surprise and even with the threat of fraudulent results, Juan Orlando Hernández, the successor on the right, won with 36.8% of those who voted and barely 21.4% of the electoral census.
When Hernández took office, he announced, “We will continue in power another fifty years,” adding his famous campaign slogan, “I will do what I have to do.” It is not possible, I thought again, but I recognized at this point where my mind had been mistaken many times. Now I don’t know what to believe. One of the [achievements] of the campaign was the creation of the Military Police, which he counted among his achievements. These police, at the request of the President of the National Congress who is a member of the party in power, have shot gases at deputies, including the ex-president Manuel Zelaya Rosales. Never in my life had I seen an ex-president gassed. And once again I thought: the things we will see . . .
Nothing prepared us for this, nor for the horrifying shrinkage of human rights to the level of public policies, a product of the coup which exists even today. Among these: the prohibition of emergency contraceptive pills, making Honduras the only country in the Americas where this medication is prohibited and penalized. It is necessary to mention, furthermore, the absorption of the Secretaries of State for Human Rights and for the National Institute of the Woman among others, which now form part of a mega-ministry of Social Development, as well as the Secretary of Security’s denial of public information of the violence to the Observatory, alleging that they themselves would put their system of statistics on line as they did effectively in 2013. Domestic violence, which is the most denounced crime at a national level, does not appear in this data base.
One can’t fail to mention the growing number of journalists, lawyers and drivers who have been murdered in plain sight of the State and the Military Police. Added to this is the high rate of the murder of young people, men and women. The rate among the latter accelerates faster than that among the former. These crimes have as a common denominator impunity in their resolution.
Today we are faced with the drama of children migrating to the United States. The Honduran President received this news while attending the World Cup in Brazil. In public declarations, he said that the growing migrant flow of unaccompanied children was caused not only by the desire to reunite with parents [in the US] but also with the violence generated by narcotraffic. “They are the displaced persons of war and I believe the United States ought to do more.”1 The President says nothing of the extreme poverty in which his government keeps the majority of the people, nor of the constant increases in the cost of gasoline, electricity, water and the basic food basket which was the first “gift” from his deputies to the Honduran people when he assumed office.
He says nothing of the alarming violence, a product of the repression and poverty which exist at the same time that the oligarchy class enriches itself more and more every day. The majority of the migrants, calculated to be some 60 or 70 people a day, are mothers who are heads of the family, with their children. “One can´t live here,” one of the women said. “There is no work, conditions are not decent, there is a great deal of violence,”2 one of the women said.
Another said, “. . . We parents who have adolescent daughters and single sons know that there is a saying: it is dangerous to be attractive and young. . . . We parents are responsible for having parties, calling together their friends and staying on top of them. For this reason, it is a false peace that we live, because we know what is going to happen and why people are getting their daughters out. . . .”3
The government’s response has been to send a visiting team, including the First Lady, to the shelters in the United States. This team in the purest military style is called a “work force,” and no one knows for certain what its function is. Up until now, we’ve only heard appeals to the United States’ sense of responsibility, without hearing what proposals exist or are put forward by the Honduran government to brake or combat this migration.
In sum, in five years it appears that things haven’t changed much and [in passing] have dashed our hopes that the countries of the world, whichever, would intervene to stop this situation.
There are days which seem interminable and in those which we have to take things little by little. We have a country full of prisons, physical and mental, in which we can´t walk, think or speak freely, a country where the news of horror continues frightening us. This is not the country which we once dreamed for ourselves, for our daughters and sons.
We want to stay and live here, but at times, as the mass exodus to the countries in the north has shown, the only option left to us is just that, to leave here. We want happiness, an easy smile, morning coffee, the pleasure of social gatherings, and the embrace of Friends. We want peace in the middle of a country which is living an internal war, undeclared, but real. And for that we know there remains a long road of continued resistance.
Jessica Isla, Honduran, is a journalist, author and member of Feministas en Resistencia. She is a columinist for the Program of the Americas, online at www.americas.org Translated by Esther Buddenhagen
2Interview with migrant mother. June 2014
3Interview with local person. May 2014