Alabama Honduras Medical Educational Network
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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Volunteerism Offers Hope, Can Do More

In a time when the military has been given full permission to kick and beat protesters and invade Honduran citizens' homes our Honduran friends need our thoughts and prayers more than we can ever imagine.  They also need our action!

The impact I wish to make on altruistic activism in Honduras is great; however, I also think it is achievable.  More so, however, it is necessary.  The tens of thousands of volunteers, NGOs, non-profits, and missionaries must have some sort of network to communicate.  At this point in time, there are only loose uncoordinated efforts in place.  One of my objectives as a human rights activist then is to create the United Volunteers App of Honduras or UVA for short.

I also wish to put my name forward for the role of US Ambassador to Honduras, diplomat, public relations representative, and/or special envoy.  There is much to be done in Honduras to help local families achieve justice in their lifetimes, and much of it is achievable through many of the same mechanisms already in place.  With UVA a united collaboration of volunteers across Honduras can tend to many of the basic relief, community development, and empowerment needs of the pueblos, but macro issues like a nationwide clean water and reliable healthcare infrastructure, for example, are jobs for international cooperation.

Take a look at where my mind is on the long-term liberating future of Honduras.  Buy a copy of my book, and let me know what you think.  Drop a donation off on my GoFundMe account.  Read and share any of my dozens of blogs widely.  My personal relationship with God fuels my passion for sustainable, green, justice-filled development in Honduras, but I would not be doing God any favors by trying to tackle another nation's problems on my own.  That is why I'm asking for your help.

Together, we are the difference.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Volunteers to Honduras Left With Enormous Responsibility

It has officially been two weeks since the 2017 Honduran Presidential election.  Both the sitting President and his opposition Salvador Nasralla have claimed victory, but there is no President elect.  Can you imagine if after the contentious 2016 US Presidential election no clear victor emerged after two weeks of protests?  What would Donald Trump have been clamoring on about then?  How would Hillary Clinton have responded?  What about Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein?

As I would hope would happen in the United States under such a predicament, the Honduran people took to the streets.  First of all, every Honduran should have been marching in the streets anyway.  It was illegal for President Hernandez to even run for reelection in the first place.  As dictated in the Honduran Constitution, the office of the President of the Republic of Honduras may only be filled by the same person for one term.  During the 2009 Coup, former President Manuel Zelaya was kidnapped in the night and flown off to Costa Rica in his pajamas for merely suggesting the people vote on whether to hold a vote to rewrite this particular article of the Constitution.  Fast forward eight years, and the National Party (Partido Nacional) that took power during the Coup convinced their hand-picked Supreme Court justices and party loyalists in the Honduran Congress to ignore the legality of a Hernandez run for reelection.  Yes, the Honduran people are in the streets protesting the current President's shrewd Machiavelian attempt at becoming the next US-backed dictator in Latin America.  However, what kicked off the protests appear in the following timeline:

  • November 26 - Honduran voters go to the polls to decide who the next President of Honduras will be.  The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) closes polls by 5 PM in several large polling stations.  Both candidates declare victory as the TSE delays its promised release of election results for several hours. People begin to claim fraud and take to the streets.
  • November 27 - TSE releases initial election results showing Nasralla in the lead by a 5% margin.  And then silence..Except in the streets.  Roads, bridges, banks, and stores become littered with protesters.
  • November 30 - After three days of no news the TSE releases data indicating Nasralla's 5% lead had disappeared and that Hernandez appeared to be the clear victor.  More silence..
  • December 1 - Due to the nationwide protests, fires burning in the streets, and 8 murders of citizens by members of the military, President Hernandez declared a nationwide 6 PM - 6 AM curfew.  Citizens see that the unresolved issues of the 2009 Coup have returned full, front, and center.
  • December 2 - The "Caserolazos" and a true people's revolution begin.  Opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla calls on the people of Honduras to continue protesting within the confines of the curfew by marching through the streets banging on pots and pans.
  • December 4 & 5 - The Honduran Police and COBRA special forces unit refuse orders to suppress the rights of the people to protest.

And the debacle continues without any clear indication from the TSE or President Hernandez.  What can we conclude from the lack of information and transparency during this most-recent election?

One bit of news did come out during the last two weeks, and it may reveal the most about why this particular election is playing out so slowly on the world stage.  Amidst an election following the tumultuous timeline above featuring a candidate barred from running for reelection by his own country's Constitution, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared Honduras is proficiently fighting corruption and protecting human rights.  Doesn't it seem odd and tone deaf that the United States would make such a declaration during a highly-contested Presidential election?  Well, tone deaf is something we have quickly come to expect from this administration, but doesn't it seem doubly odd that such an announcement comes when the results of this election could remove from power the party with which the United States has been funneling millions of security dollars?

No, no, it is not odd.  The United States tacitly supported the 2009 deposing of President Manuel Zelaya, and the nod from the US State Department is a signal to the world which Honduran candidate it backs, regardless of what the Honduran people think, want, need, or deserve.  I mean who are we kidding?  The US signs off on the Honduran government's record on human rights and anti-corruption measures less than two years after the political assassination of Berta Caceres.  Tillerson's announcement comes less than two years after President Hernandez found himself implicated in a multi-million dollar robbery of the nation's social security system for no other purpose than to fund his reelection campaign.  No, there is no surprise here.  The human rights abuses and corruption that ebbs and flows like the Caribbean sea along the coastline are just what the US State Department likes to see.  They see a vulnerability it can work with, an insecurity it can exploit.

With vulnerabilities and lapses in security the US can pump more money into developing the security state abroad.  With vulnerabilities in the security the US can continue its violent and self-hemorrhaging "War on Drugs."  With vulnerabilities in human rights US companies can continue to take advantage of the impoverished and pay abysmal wages to workers in the maquiladora and plantation industries.  With insecurities in infrastructure the US, even in its crumbling state, can still appear to provide a "1st World" lifestyle to its own citizens.  However, these avenues of exercising power are not the end game in and of itself.  The US is actually only interested in wielding power.  Instead of stepping in and using its Monroe Doctrine in 2009 to say NO to the Coup, the US sat back and waited for the regularly scheduled elections to, according to Hillary Clinton, "render the question of Zelaya moot."  Now, in 2017, the US is sitting back and saying "Nothing to see here" in the midst of a people's revolution against a US-backed strongman vying for his position in the Dictators Almanac.  Am I being cynical? Yes, I am.  Is there A LOT of truth to my observation?  If you doubt, just consider the fact that the US Embassy has been without an ambassador since July.  Where does this leave ultimate control?  At the very top is the answer, and as a result, you see what type of response Honduras gets from the leader of the free world amidst an imploding exercise in democracy..."Everything is just the way we want it."

But what of what the Honduran people want?  Don't their wishes and dreams matter?  As a long-time volunteer in Honduras it is important to me that the macro structures keeping Hondurans down on their luck improve in such a way that Honduran families can employ the micro tools available to them as a route to freedom from injustice.  As such, international volunteers whose outreach focuses on Honduras must organize themselves.  I am more convinced than ever that the seemingly nefarious attitudes of the United States and current Honduran government do not offer successful top down solutions.  I say #FueraJOH & #FueraUSA!

Volunteers of Honduras, unite!  If we intend to put the good will and intention we have to meaningful use in Honduras, then it is time to organize our efforts.  While US foreign policy will not detour much in Latin America from Obama to Trump.  Our collaborative efforts can make a difference in the lives of Honduran families if we just take the time to connect.  Click here to do just that!

Together, we are the difference.