Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas and Peace on Earth...and Honduras

It's Christmas Eve, 2009. Last year at this time, I was on the beautiful island of Kauai with my son and his wife and my 3 beautiful grandsons. Seems like yesterday. On Christmas Day this year, I'll have to be satisfied with seeing them all via Skype. Coordinating the time difference might be tricky but we'll manage.

Things are quiet here in Honduras. The last word I heard about Citizen Zelaya was that he had resolved to spend his Christmas in the Brazilian embassy. It's anyone's guess just how much longer he'll be there. I must say it's been really nice the last couple of demonstrations, no announcements from Citizen Zelaya...the quiet is wonderful. I'm sure we'll hear more from him, most likely before the inauguration on January 27th. Surely he will have something to say that he wants the news to spread around. I'm just enjoying the peace and quiet here in Tegucigalpa.

Sadly, the crime in Tegucigalpa and for Embassy employees is on the rise. In 2 different instances, 3 embassy employees were victims of armed robberies, all for a cell phone. One of the victims, a petite female, actually fought for her life. She refused their demands for her to get in her car, knowing that could mean certain death. Seriously. We don't advocate fighting back...give them what they want. But she felt her life was in danger and she did what she could. I hugged her today and told her how sorry I was that she had such an awful experience.

For all those who visit my blog, I wish you a Merry Christmas to those that that greeting applies and a wonderful holiday season to those who celebrate their own religious holidays. I hope that 2010 is a year full of terrific surprises for everyone. I know I'm looking forward to it!

A special Merry Christmas to all my family, living so far from me...I miss you and love you all so much.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

This Little Country Could...And Did!

They were right. People kept saying that what Honduras needed to help the country was for the elections to take place. They did and it seems to have worked. The resistence movement has abandoned Citizen Zelaya, as have all but about 15 of those who had become squatters in the Brazilian embassy with him. Every time one of them left the embassy, dragging their suitcase on wheels behind them, I think we could all imagine Citizen Zelaya crying into his hands, wondering how they could leave him in his day..I mean month of need.

I believe, as do so many others, that he was too focused on himself (among other things). They finally saw him for what he really was...everything for himself, not for his country. He just didn't get it. The money and power went to his head. Well, the money is well hidden but that's another story.

Honduras learned a very important lesson, and future politicians should understand this. They saw that corruption is something that is unacceptable. They stood strong against many who tried to change their course, unsuccessfully. They can credit the interim president, Roberto Micheletti, for not giving in to the many threats and actions taken against Honduras.

On Dec. 2, Congress voted on whether or not to reinstate Citizen Zelaya as president. For the first time, the voting was televised and each of the Congresistas had their turn at the microphone. Some merely said they were in favor of the decision made on June 28th or they said they were against it. Others realized that what was happening in that room was really a historical event and they wanted their 15 minutes of fame....some thought they deserved 50 minutes of fame! Several times, the president of Congress had to interrupt them, respectfully reminding them there were others who were waiting to vote. They would thank him and proceed with their rant. The importance of this televised vote was that for the first time, the citizens of Honduras could actually see what the people they voted for were doing. I spoke with my maid, Gloria and tried to impress on her just how very important this was. I told her that in the US, we could always check the voting records of the people we voted into office. She was amazed. And by the way, they overwhelmingly voted to accept what took place back in June. Sorry Citizen Zelaya.

Back to Citizen Zelaya and his future. He really has only 2 choices...he can request political asylum and leave the country or he can walk out of that embassy into the arms of the police and be held accountable for what he has done. I hope he leaves. Honduras needs to recover from the crisis it has endured for the past 7 months. Healing can't begin if Zelaya is put in jail and begins the process of answering the charges against him. That would only stand to invigorate his supporters and we'd be back to where we were a couple of months ago, with the streets filled with demonstrators. He should just leave and let this country move on. Let the people here look to the future with a renewed sense of pride and encouraged by their newly elected president, Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo. Last week, he came to visit the Ambassador. I happened to be working in his office and when Pepe walked in, he came right over to me and shook my hand. I congratulated him and wished him the best of luck in his new role. He smiled and graciously thanked me. Then he and the Ambassador left and walked throughout the embassy. He greeted everyone he saw, from the cafeteria ladies on up. He seems to be comfortable in his new role as President and thanking the people for their votes sure didn't hurt his popularity any!

As I prepare to leave Honduras next May, I will leave knowing that I was here when the people of Honduras found out what it was like to stand up for what they believed in. They saw a leader who, at all costs, did his best to preserve the rule of law and keep their constitution intact. This really is the little country that could.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Democracy Lives On In Honduras

The people of Honduras have spoken. More than 60% of the voters turned out to put their ballots in those 3 boxes, one for President and Vice President, one for Congress and one for local elected officials. The majority of the votes went to Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo. It's not so much who won the election since they both had pretty much the same platform...improve the quality of life, create more jobs, repair the streets. It's more about the fact that people really really wanted to vote in this election. That 60% is a huge number...and it doesn't even take into account the Hondurans who live in the United States and who voted in any of the many cities who had voting polls set up. People were heard to say they flew HERE from the states to cast their vote in their home town. How many times have you heard that about a US election? This is a big deal for this wonderful country.

There were stories about citizens in their 70s and 80s who had never, in their lives, voted for a president. They were coming to the polls in their wheelchairs. One lady who had lost both legs below the knee came in a taxi and the poll workers brought her ballot out to the taxi. One scene on TV showed children in the polling place, excited to see their parents cast their votes. It was, for most Hondurans, a day to remember and a real lesson for the young.

Tonight, as I sit writing, Congress is voting on whether or not to reinstate Mel Zelaya. The vote that was just cast was the deciding vote as it resulted in a majority. There will not be a Mel Zelaya back in the Casa Presidencial! Someone send him the rest of his belongings! Chances are, they won't all fit in the Brazilian embassy, where he is still camped out, probably with head in hands right now, wondering what his next move should be. Mel, may I make a suggestion? Just as you snuck back into the country, figure out a way to sneak back out. I don't think this country wants to deal with you any more, even if it's you defending yourself in a court of law against the numerous allegations for which there is a warrant for your arrest. Sure, many would like him to pay for his injustices, but just as many want their lives to begin to heal and that means no more violence. No more demonstrations. No more anger. No more Zelaya.

This country wants to move on. They need to have a light at the end of the tunnel that's not another train coming at them in the form of more violence if Mel should be brought to trial. I can't imagine the scenes in the streets if that should happen. Let's hope that someone comes up with a really good final chapter to this story.

Shortly after Zelaya was whisked off to Costa Rica on June 28th, I said that Hollywood should jump on this story and make a movie. Sean Penn as Zelaya, Gene Hackman as Roberto Micheletti...and of course, Sally Fields would have to play me. What a historical time to be serving at the American Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. I wouldn't have traded this for anything!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Day For Democracy

November 29, 2009 has finally arrived for the citizens of Honduras. Today they go to the polls to democratically elect their new president. I've had the television on since a little before 7:00 a.m. this morning when the polls were to open. So far, very little in the way of problems for the voters. The only thing I've heard is that at one polling place, a small group of 'resistencia' members tried to block the way to the school where voting was to take place. They were calmly removed by the police with no violence or excessive force used.

Observers and 'reporters' (those who are in attendence to report if there appears to be any questionable activity) are present at all polling places, as are journalists from around the world. Local TV has been interviewing people who are in line to vote and all are excited about the chance to choose their new leader. The polls close at 4:00 p.m. and preliminary results should begin coming in within 2 hours after the polls close.

Ballots began arriving in the very early hours today in cardboard boxes, with military personnel guarding them. Each voter will cast a ballot in each of 3 boxes, or 'urna' as they are called. The ballots all have color photographs of each candidate for President, as well as the members of Congress and other local elections. To my knowledge, there is no computerized way of counting the votes, so it will all be done by hand. Observers will be there to make sure it's all on the up and up. I'm optomistic that things will go well and a new president will be announced later tonight or tomorrow.

As for Citizen Zelaya, I've heard that Spain has turned down his request for political asylum and he has applied to Nicaragua. I would rather see him across the ocean than right next door. Being so close could be problematic for Honduras.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed and trying to be positive about today's election. Good for Honduras. Even better for the people of Honduras. Show the world that you came through this crisis with your head held high and your constitution intact!

(Thanks to Mitch Cummins of Roatan for the picture.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Let There Be Peace

Election day here in Honduras is almost upon us. The country will finally elect their next president. Roberto Micheletti has voluntarily stepped down, moved aside or otherwise removed himself from the picture in an effort to further legitimize the election in the eyes of the world, stating that if there were problems he would return immediately. With Congress left in charge, the country is once again under the rule of appropriately elected officials. The country has been functioning much better since the sudden involuntary departure of Manuel Zelaya in June but, nevertheless, the urgings from the US that Micheletti 'take a vacation' seems to have made sense to him.

The ballot boxes destined for cities some distance from the capitol have left the building where they have been stored and are in trucks on their way to the schools where they will be ready for Sunday's election. The schools have been closed for some time since they are the polling places for elections. As sad as it is, they've been empty pretty much all year due to the teacher's participation in many of the violent demonstrations by the pro Zelaya supporters. You see, the teachers have a very strong union. They don't pay taxes. They get paid whether they are in the classrooms or not. They get paid to demonstrate. And to think they are responsible for the future generations of Honduras...what a shame.

The only 2 candidates I've heard anything about are Pepe Lobo and Elvin Santos. They've been doing their best to convince the masses that they deserve their vote. I have no idea which one would be better for this country but odds are either one will be better than the previous president. I really hope, for the sake of the people of Honduras, that there have been some lessons learned as a result of this political crisis. There have been plenty of examples of what not to do, that's for sure. But with a history of years of corruption to overcome, whoever does win will have quite a battle to reinvent Democracy in the Honduran government. So much should be learned from what has happened during the past 5 months...and even before that.

The next few days will be interesting. Zelaya has torn apart the recently signed accord, paragraph by paragraph, by not abiding by its content. He has called for a boycott of the elections and in return, it was announced that anyone found promoting this action is subject to 6 years in prison. There are rumors flying about a 'toque de queda,' or curfew, beginning Friday afternoon. It's my guess that it will happen, if for no other reason than to make sure things are calm before the election on Sunday. And I would guess that if they do it for Friday, it will extend through Saturday also. With bomb threats and grenades appearing more and more often, it seems logical to call for a curfew to keep people off the streets.

I pray that things do remain calm and peaceful and that the elections take place without any questions of legitimacy or violence. There are observers coming from all over and even possibly a delegation from Washington. With the world watching, let's hope that no one does anything stupid.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday the 13th, Honduran Style

I'm not at all superstitious. I walk under ladders. I love black cats. I step on cracks without a second thought. However, this particular Friday the 13th wasn't a very good one for the people of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

The day began with a report of an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) explosion but with very little details. As information began to come in, it was determined that it was most likely shot from a small plane and the target was the building here in Tegucigalpa where the election materials ('ballots' comes to mind) are stored, awaiting distribution to the polling places. It failed to hit its target, instead most likely hit an electrical line, resulting in an explosion in the air but very close to the ground near the building. In today's El Heraldo online newspaper reports (, officials stated the RPG was from Nicaragua.

As the day progressed, 2 bomb threats were reported, one at a building several blocks from the American Embassy, the other allegedly at Toncontin International Airport. After bomb squads searched both areas, no bombs were found. However, it is apparent that those who would make these threats have one motive...disrupt the lives of the Hondurans. Cause fear and intimidation. Make people think twice about voting.

Elections are just a little over 2 weeks away and Mr. Zelaya's supporters are ramping up their efforts to cause whatever problems they can to stop/disrupt/discredit the elections. The vast majority want this election to take place. They want to choose their next president but if Zelaya has his way, it won't happen. From inside his 'headquarters' in the Brazilian embassy, he is calling the shots. He is giving instructions to boycott the election, cause chaos and confusion, intimidation and fear. He claims that the world cannot recognize any new government unless he is reinstated as president. This week, President Micheletti offered to resign on the condition that Zelaya cease his efforts to be reinstated, request political amnesty from Brazil and retreat to some other country. Spain has been mentioned. So far, no response from Zelaya.

Today's papers had photographs of 3-pointed spikes that were seized by authorities, intended to be put in the streets so that trucks could not deliver the ballots to the polling places. I guess that was Plan B since Plan A's RPG missed its target.

Let's go back to Mr. Zelaya for a minute. He is a spoiled child who, when he realized that he wasn't going to get his way after the signing of the Tegucigalpa/San Jose Accord, threw a tantrum and refused to play with anyone. He is totally unpredictable and cannot be trusted to abide by any agreement he enters into. He has a history of this as President. The thought of having him back in the presidential palace calling the shots is pretty scary. I do understand that the goal of the United States is to have a democratically elected president in place when the elections take place. I must add here that there is tape of Zelaya in a news conference admitting that he won that election (by the narrowest margin) by fraud. So many Hondurans fear that if he is in power for even a day or two, let alone 2 months, the damage he could do is mind boggling. El Heraldo had a quote from Mr. Zelaya today:

"El ex presidente Manuel Zelaya dijo que el gobierno de Estados Unidos lo ha dejado 'en medio del rio diciendo que ahora la prioridad son las elecciones' en Honduras.


The ex-president Manuel Zelaya said that the government of the United States has left him 'in the middle of a river, saying that now the priority is the elections' in Honduras"

Wait a minute...isn't that exactly what we want...fair elections? You mean Zelaya isn't the main object of our attention?? How dare we do that...

My tour here ends in May and I will be on my way to Muscat, Oman. There are certain events which must occur before the State Department will begin evacuation procedures of Americans in an embassy. There's a list outlining these events. I'm told we aren't close to taking that action but there have been meetings so everyone is prepared should it come to that. I think Zelaya's thugs have more tricks up their sleeves. I really don't want to leave until May. I want to see this crisis resolved, a fair and decisive election and the inauguration of a new president for these Honduran people. They all so deserve some good in their lives.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Update on the Honduras Political Crisis

Last Friday, representatives of both Manuel "Mel" Zelaya (or Citizen Mel as I call him) and President Roberto Micheletti signed what is referred to as the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord. Basically, it states that Congress will decide if Mel is to be allowed back in power, along with several other bullet points (pun intended). However, for everything to happen, the stars must align with Mars and Pluto and you have to hold your tongue just other words, it's far from a done deal. Pay no attention to the jubilous celebrating that occurred Friday night by the Zelaya supporters. So much could go wrong and things could be worse than before. I believe the problems are far from being solved for Honduras.

Friday, October 16, 2009

From Honduras To....

The wait is over. I finally know where I'm headed. It was #5 on my list of 20 and July 2010 I will call Muscat, Oman my new home. I've talked to so many people who have been there and/or lived there. They tell me the biggest hurdle to clear is the heat. For 5-6 months of the year, it's 110-130 during the day. Sometimes with 100% humidity. Oh heck, I can do anything for 2 years! I'm told the homes there are more like villas...big! And the coast has wonderful snorkeling and did I mention camel races???

Yes, it is just below Iran and Yemen but I have no plans of going there. I do hope to make it to several other places in that part of the Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Italy, Bosnia and hopefully Paris. My job will be in the same section of the Embassy...the Regional Security Office. I'm so happy to not have to learn something totally new. My job here in Honduras has been extremely busy and I'm not expecting the same level of action in Muscat. I'm sure I'll stay busy!

So now I get down to the business of planning my home leave, a week or so to Kauai to see my son and his family and then to Washington DC for some training and perhaps some consultation days. It's too soon to really plan things. I'll find out just what courses are being offered in DC the first 2 weeks of July and hopefully get the blessing of my CDO to register for them. These last 7 months here will fly by and I'm a planner. Before I know it, I'll be on my way to Muscat, Oman...the Jewel of Arabia!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Another List of 5ive

I haven't done a List of 5ive in many months. I'm sitting here on Saturday night and decided I'd try to come up with a new list. Sometimes it's easy. Sometimes it's hard to limit it to 5ive. Once there were 5ive things I wanted to teach my grandsons. I can't remember the others. But there have been others. You can search my blog for them.

As I sit here, I can't think of any yet. But I'm working on it. I all should be able to make a List of 5ive. Maybe 5ive things you want to do tomorrow. Or 5ive things (different) that you want to taste tomorrow. Or 5ive things you've misplaced and you're determined to find. 5ive goals. Goals are really good things. Or 5ive ways to save money. My List of 5ive could be a new beginning for some....5ive places to look for a job. 5ive people to network with. 5ive people you want to avoid because they have a negative attitude.

Maybe the best part of this post is to get you thinking about your own List of 5ive. I've gotten emails with 25 Things You Might Not Know About Me. I like to keep my lists small. It's like dieting. Start out wanting to lose 5ive pounds. Rejoice when you attain that goal and then work on the next 5ive pounds. When you want to lose, say 30 pounds, it's daunting. Start with small steps.

OK, back to my list. I think I have 5ive.
  1. Start my annual Christmas letter. Boy,will it be a good one this year!
  2. Plan my Thanksgiving dinner and decide who I want to invite since I can't have family.
  3. Say a little prayer that the email informing me of my next assignment comes this week.
  4. Update my other list...the List of Things to Accomplish Before I Die.
  5. Write another chapter of my book this week.

There you go. A pretty random list, but obviously my mind is kinda random tonight. I guess that comes from getting older. And after my last birthday, I better move #4 up to #1!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Day 2 of Curfew and Mel Zelaya's Occupation of the Brazilian Embassy

Another dawn breaks with the sound of helicopters overhead. I don’t know what’s going on outside the 9’ walls that surround my house. I looked on TV and there are no news reports of violence…yet. It’s my guess it’s more of a deterrent for people thinking about going out, like a reminder that today is yet another day of staying home. It brings back memories of being woken up at 7:00AM on June 28th by the sound of a very low flying military jet. Did I mention it was really LOW flying? And loud?

I turned on the television after hearing the helicopter this morning, looking for news. I did see some footage and reports from yesterday. Thousands of demonstrators gathered at the Brazilian embassy in support of Mr. Zelaya. They became unruly (not to mention that a curfew was in place and they should have been home watching TV!) and the police used tear gas to disperse them. The news reporter conveniently found a young woman carrying a child with a red shirt on (the color the pro-Zelaya people wear) and she was lamenting that her poor child was exposed to the horrible tear gas and violence. Did the reporter mention that cars were being burned by members of her gang? Did the reporter mention that rocks are covering the streets, used against the police? Why is it that all reporting is done to make the police and armed forces look bad? To my knowledge, there has been no aggressive behavior by them…it has all been defensive moves and attempts to break up the violent crowds and maintain peace. It is infuriating to watch the news and see how they (the media) are trying to portray the violent demonstrators as the victims. My message to that lady and others who have brought their small children to these demonstrations, leave the baby home next time. Sympathy is just after Stupid in the dictionary!

One of the TV stations here does polls every night. Usually 2,000-3,000 people respond. Last night the question asked was this: Do you think the presence of ex-President Zelaya helps to solve the political crisis? The results were 3,496 (15%) saying yes it would and 19,187 (85%) responding NO.

I’m not sure what to expect in the days to come. I don’t think this situation will end soon. If the violence by the Zelaya supporters continues, the curfew will continue. Of course, the media will spin that, saying it proves it was a coup d’etat! They should ask why the curfew is in place. But wait...the answer just might indicate that Michiletti is doing the right thing and we sure wouldn't want to report anything positive about this crisis, would we?

President Micheletti, as usual, is showing restraint and patience and issued a message to the nation. You can read it here. He is quite a man and in my opinion is handling all the negative criticism with a great respect for those who are critical of the actions here. He has my blessings and I pray for him to have the strength to continue to defend his constitution and thereby, ensure a better country for the people of Honduras.

On a lighter note…I have no idea what I will do today, being confined to my home. Yesterday was pretty much spent sitting at my computers (yes, I had them both going, resisting the temptation of getting out my third, the little Red Dell, to join in the fun). I have to figure out something to do to make the day go by faster. I might bake some chocolate chip cookies for the Marines at the Embassy. The problem with that is if the curfew goes on, I am home alone with 5 dozen chocolate chip cookies. A very dangerous situation! Maybe the military guards across the street would like some. Apparently, one of President Micheletti's ministers is my neighbor. Gotta love the extra protection!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

He's Baaaaaack....

We knew it would happen. It was inevitable. Mel Zelaya snuck back into Honduras and mysteriously appeared at the Brazilian Embassy here in Tegucigalpa. The crowd grew from 50 people to a reported 8,000 in less than 30 minutes. Of course rumors were flying as fast as chips on a craps table in Vegas with a hot roller. Initially, no one knew if it was true of just a rumor. He was supposed to be in the States...wait, no, he's in Nicaragua. No...he's in Tegucigalpa. Along with the crowds at the Brazilian Embassy, there were huge crowds at the United Nations building here so, you guessed it...they thought he was there too. Oddly enough, there was no police presence at either location for a long time. Then, on TV, you see the military vehicles and the big water truck come rolling in. On a hot day, the very zealous pro Zelaya supporters got a shower.

I kept saying...there should be a curfew announced any time. What's wrong with this? You know something else is in the works. Then, at 3:30 it was announced on TV that there was a curfew...starting at 4:00! An announcement was made throughout my Embassy for all non-essential employees (usually heads of sections) were to leave immediately. Well, it was a mass exodus to get out of the area. But once I got to my car, I realized that I wasn't going anywhere soon. It was massive gridlock. My drive from home to work is usually 5 minutes. Today it took me over 2 hours. No one let anyone cut in, no lights were working, motorcyclists were weaving between cars and using the invisible middle lane, laughing inside at all of us in cars going nowhere fast. To make matters worse, my gas tank was on 1/4 full, or 3/4 empty...either way, I thought, "What a time to run out of gas." A few times, people got out of their cars to try to direct traffic, pleading with drivers to wait and let some others go, making room to actually move. It was horrible. I did make it home, but not before having a very close encounter with another car. I tried to move around a car and I misjudged it and scraped around him instead. I got out as he did and after he looked at his car and mine, he said "No problem with my bumper...but your doors will need work!" (all in Spanish,) I didn't even look at my doors until I finally got home. Yep, body shop, here I come. Nothing major but I think I have my car sold to the person who will have my job in May so it will get fixed!

I am now trying to second guess what will happen tomorrow over a very nice glass of cabernet. Will Zelaya be arrested? Will he camp out in the Brazilian Embssy for who knows how long? Will he disappear as quickly as he appeared? My crystal ball is in the shop or I'd venture a guess. One thing is for sure. As soon as I click on "Publish Post," I'm headed to the internet to see what I can find out! For weeks, everyone has been saying they wished "it would just happen...what it is." And it did. Now we live with the results.

Bulletin! I just got a call from my boss. ONLY essential personnel are to report to the embassy tomorrow as the government has extended the curfew. Instead of ending tomorrorw morning at 7:00AM, it now goes all the way to 6:00PM. If I am needed, they will send a car (with a driver who is armed, I hope) to fetch me. Ahhh...the life in a 3rd world country!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Where In The World Will I Be Next May?

About a week ago, I completed and submitted my “bid list” for my next post. The first 2 tours are directed by your Career Development Officer (CDO) in Washington DC. After that, you pretty much find your next post by making contacts and through emails and recommendations.

About a month ago, I received the email with 41 posts listed and I was to select 20 and then rank them, favorite to oh, dear God, please don’t send me there. Fortunately, there were some pretty nice places on my list…which is not always the case. For my first post, I am here in Tegucigalpa and work in the Diplomatic Security office, also known as the Regional Security Office. It’s probably one of the best sections to work in as there is always something going on. There is never a dull moment and time flies! It’s been made even better by the guys I have worked with…the DS Agents and my Regional Security Officer. They have set the bar high and I can only hope that my next post has the same caliber of people to work with.

Anyway, the list below is what I selected and ranked as my Top 20. So it boils down to this…in May of next year, I’ll be back in the states for a month or so and then off to one of these places for the next 2 years. Here’s the list:

1. Munich, Germany RSO
2. Frankfurt, Germany RSO
3. Dubai, UAE RSO
4. Muscat, Oman RSO
5. Nairobi, Kenya RSO
6. Paris, France
7. Hanoi, N. Viet Nam
8. Vienna, Austria
9. Wellington, New Zealand RSO
10. Brussels, Belgium
11. Beijing, China
12. Berlin, Germany
13. Tel Aviv, Israel
14. London, England
15. New Delhi, India
16. Tokyo, Japan
17. Jakarta, Indonesia
18. Buenos Aires, Argentina
19. San Jose, Costa Rica
20.Seoul, Korea

I marked the ones that are RSO and the rest are in other sections of the Embassy. My CDO has pretty much assured me that I can go to another RSO section so it’s pretty much down to the 6 marked as RSO. That is...if she keeps her word! Remember…no guarantees.

I should know sometime in October. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Munich because it’s right there in the middle of the best parts of Europe and I hope to do lots of traveling while I’m there. If I’m sent to Wellington or Beijing or one of the other far reaching places, the cost to travel will pretty much hinder my ability to see that part of the world like I want to.
Time will tell. I need to just try to not think about it until October. Yeah, right….

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hugo Chavez, Butt Out!

I wish I could say those words to that good for nothing low life. But I can't so I have to settle for writing it on my blog. Today the demonstrators showed their true colors and began destroying people's property. A bus was burned, restaurants were destroyed, windows were broken in their path. Why? Because that's what protesters do when led by people sent from Venezuela to get them all pumped up. What do they care? It isn't their country. It's not their fellow countrymen who lose their jobs because buildings are burned to the ground. A 15 year old who was vandalizing a car or business was shot by the police because he would not stop. Windows are broken out, people injured...and for what??? It has been reported that $3 million dollars was brought into the country and exchanged for Lempiras on the black market. This money is being used to pay the demonstrators. They came from all over the country to participate in this and for what? Probably around $150 each. They could care less whether Mel Zelaya ever returns to Honduras! They came for the payment. That's what happens in a country where 80% of the people live on about $1500 a YEAR. The will do just about anything for money.

On my way out of the embassy today, I was commenting to one of the Hondurans who work at the embassy. They are, by the way, the best people to work with. I told her I just couldn't wrap my brain around the reason for the property destruction. Her answer was...they want to create chaos. That's so true. Create chaos and nothing else. Their actions aren't helping Mel's return to power. Their destruction of property is only serving to cause more economic hardship on people here, who are already the poorest of the poor in South and Central America.

I just wonder when Hugo Chavez will arrive on his white stallion promising to raise everyone from the depths of despair...caused by who? I'm praying that this little country can find a way to survive this storm and fight off the attempts being made by Chavez.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Another Calm Before Another Storm?

Speaking of storms, before I comment on how calm it is here in Tegucigalpa this beautiful Saturday, I need to reach out to my son, his wife and my 3 adorable grandsons in Hawaii. I hope the hurricane is down to a mere tropical storm by the time it reaches you and produces nothing more than some great waves for surfing! I love you!

OK, as I said, it's nice and calm here today. My gardner came today so everything is just beautiful in the front and back yards. Another couple of birds have decided that the inside center of my miniature palm tree is the perfect place for a nest and I've been watching them bring twigs and bits of string as they construct their new home. They are smart little things...once again, the opening to their oval shaped nest is to the wall so seeing into it is tricky. It looks like a ball of twigs but somewhere in there, there is an entrance. I see them coming and going. Can't wait to hear little chirps.

Now, back to the calm before the storm. (I get distracted so easily!) News sources here in Tegucigalpa have reported that the Red team (pro Zelaya people) are going to have a huge demonstration here on Tuesday. Currently, there are marches across the country, numbers of participants probably depend on how many are willing to accept the $20 plus meal to participate in the march. The number of people involved doesn't equate to the number of supporters. You have some supporters and you have many participants. Don't confuse the two. Gloria, my maid, told me this morning that some schools have made the classrooms available for the participants to sleep, with pillows and refreshments, thus pretty much causing any classes to be cancelled. Well, that and the fact that the teachers are being paid to participate in the demonstrations too, so the poor kids have had classes cancelled. Tuesday should be interesting. I may take my toothbrush and jammies with me to work. There has been a mix of violent and non-violent demonstrations and you just never know which will happen.

I've had leave approved for Sept. 4-14th since the middle of last month. I keep thinking I'll buy my plane ticket but have been playing Airline Ticket Price Roulette. The price started out at $559 for my round trip from here to Dallas/Fort Worth. Then it went to $589....then $609. My problem is this. If it gets bad here, some of us will be evacuated to WashDC to work at some desk until things normalize. If I buy the ticket, I may be out the price of a ticket...or be issued a voucher. Well, the price went down again $529! If I buy it here at the Continental ticket office, I can avoid some of the taxes so I decided to go today and buy my ticket. I woke up this morning and went online to print out my preferred flights and wouldn't you know it...back to $609. Dayum. I understand that there are so many seats set aside for one price, and when those are sold, the price goes up to the next tier of pricing and when those are gone, it goes up again. So...who knows when the best day is to buy a ticket? Is there a set day when prices are set and more cheap seats are released? There has to be a trick to this. If you know The Trick...please let me know. I really need a break and 10 days at home with family and friends (you know...Macy's, Nordstroms, Kohl's) is just the thing to reset my tolerance meter!!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

HONDURAS...The Little Country That Could

This is one of the best articles I've found on what's been happening in Honduras. Please take the time to read it. Knowing the whole story may make it harder to ignore the crisis here...and how it really could become a bigger deal than just who ends up running Honduras.

Coup versus Coup D’Etat
by Janine Goben

A few weeks ago there was a constitutional change of power in Honduras; not usually an event which would cause the world to get involved in the internal government of a country, especially a country enjoying the freedom of an effective democracy.


During the early morning of June 28th, 2009, an event occurred in the small Central American country of Honduras which will become a defining time in Honduras’ history; indeed, it will become a defining moment in the definition of democracy. And because of the immediate reaction of the United States of America, it will become a defining point in time for the world to judge how the United States becomes involved in the government of other countries.

As the sun started to rise on Sunday, June 28th, 2009, a military corps, acting under direction of the Supreme Court of Honduras and the entire Congress of Honduras, entered the Presidential Palace in the capital city of Tegucigalpa and removed the President of Honduras, taking him by plane to Costa Rica, where he was discharged.

The news media and the U.S. state department immediately jumped on the following equation:
Head of state + Central America + military removal from power = coup d’état.

Armed with only these facts, most people would make the same leap to judgment….. Unless they had the rest of the information and some understanding of the Honduran constitution, or unless they came to Honduras today and see that life is continuing the same as it was prior to these events; there are no tanks rolling down the streets, no curtailed rights or liberties.

The international press would have you believe that Honduras is in disarray. Nothing could be further from the truth. A constitutional change of government occurred, without violence; and this constitutional change has brought the people of Honduras together in defense of their constitution and their freedoms. Hondurans and foreigners, both sides of the political spectrum, stand solidly together to support HONDURAS. Tens of thousands of people have staged rallies throughout the country in support of the actions taken against the ex-president. The only violence that has occurred is when Zelaya tried to return to the country, creating a media frenzy as he asked his very few supporters to disrupt the country.

I will give you the rest of the story from the viewpoint of an American citizen living happily and peacefully in Honduras for a dozen years, and also with a chronology from a Honduran businessman, who can speak to the actions first hand.

Let’s start three years ago; Mel Zelaya, candidate for one of the two main political parties, was elected President by a small majority. A rich rancher, Zelaya courted the poorer people of the country, making grand appearances by riding in on his horse, Café, wearing his trademark cowboy hat. His political objectives started to drift to the left fairly quickly and he publicly and frequently created photo shoots with political allies Hugo Chavez and the Castro Brothers.


Zelaya started making decisions which appeared to be detrimental to the stability of the country, such as overruling local law enforcement by demanding the release of people arrested for destroying government offices and burning records.

On one occasion earlier this year, he flew into the island of Roatan, on a whim, to encourage a group of protestors who were objecting to the electric company and who had managed to block the only main road on the island, effectively shutting down the island and creating havoc with the tourism industry for a week. Cruise ships detoured to other destinations and international flights were affected; people couldn’t work. Zelaya appeared in front of the crowd, encouraging them to create civil unrest. Several of the leaders had been arrested and Zelaya commanded the police and District Attorney to release them.

This was the first time most of us on the island were exposed to the courage of the Honduran people – the local officials, who are mostly members of Zelaya’s political party, resisted the order and managed to hold most of the detainees for several days. This event was probably a significant turning point in the support Zelaya enjoyed as a democratically elected President.

There is a long time relationship between Honduras and the United States; over 100 U.S. businesses operate within the country, providing thousands of jobs for Hondurans. Tourism is also a major source of employment and economic stability. There is a large military base, Soto Cano, in the center of Honduras close to the town of Comayagua, with a comfortable blend of Honduran and American troops whose mission is primarily humanitarian and to exert some control of drug trafficking throughout Central America.

Honduras is also a highly desirable country for foreigners to live in and own property; there are thousands of us living throughout the country, especially in the Bay Islands, a stunningly beautiful destination in the Western Caribbean. Life is relaxed and relatively inexpensive; the Honduran people are peaceful, friendly and welcoming. They are also fiercely proud of their country and their CONSTITUTION.

For the past twenty-plus years, Honduras has enjoyed the freedoms associated with a stable democracy and the comfort of friendship and aid from the U.S and many other countries worldwide. The second poorest country in the region, international aid is crucial for the people of Honduras. In the last decade, huge improvements in infrastructure and quality of life are evident. Humanitarian groups come in droves to provide medical, dental, spiritual and physical care. Homes are built by volunteers, trades are taught, education is boosted and children are cared for. No-one wants to lose any of this, so when Zelaya started toward a carefully chartered path to align himself with leftist leaders, people started to take notice. Rumors about missing money and illegal activities at the highest level were reported.

The democratic republic of Honduras has a similar governmental structure to the United States, with three executive branches. The following is an accurate chronology of the events which led up to the removal of Mel Zelaya from the Presidential palace, written by a Honduran businessman who lives in Tegucigalpa, and is re-printed with his permission:

The Chain of Events in the Honduras Crisis March 23, 2009: President Zelaya passes an Executive Decree ordering a National Survey asking citizens if they would approve a Constitutional Assembly that would write and approve a new constitution. The Decree stated that the National Institute of Statistics (INE) would carry the survey out. However, he did not publish the decree in Honduras’ official newspaper called La Gaceta as required by law. This decree violated the following articles in the Constitution:

• Article 255 for not having published the decree in the Gaceta.
• Article 5 which states that only Congress (with a majority vote of 2/3) can define a National Survey and NOT the Executive branch.
• Article 5 which states that only the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) can conduct/execute a National Survey and NOT the National Statistics Institute (INE).
• His actions implied intent to violate Article 374, a “Petreos” Article, which states that only five articles in the entire constitution (with a total of 378 articles) cannot be amended or reformed. Two of those five articles refer to the duration of the presidential period (Art. 237) and the prohibition of presidential reelection (Art. 4).
By May 27, 2009: The National Prosecutor, the Attorney General and the Supreme Court had unanimously ruled the National Survey decree as illegal and it was ANULLED.

June 5, 2009: President Zelaya’s lawyer appeals the ruling.

June 16, 2009: The Appeal Court unanimously confirms that the National Survey decree is indeed illegal and therefore ANULLED. The State Prosecutor’s Office (Ministerio Publico) informs the Armed Forces that the National Survey is illegal and therefore, the Armed Forces must not carry out its constitutionally-assigned responsibility to act as guardians of the Public Survey ballots. The Armed Forces apply Article 323 that states that no public official, whether civil or military, can be forced to comply with an illegal order and thus refuse to carry out President Zelaya’s order to safeguard the ballots and election/survey. That same day, the State Prosecutor’s Office also advises President Zelaya and his entire cabinet of the Appeals Court ruling against the decree.

June 19, 2009: The State Prosecutor’s Office formally advises President Zelaya, a second time, that the National Survey is illegal.

June 25th, 2009: Only three days before his announced and illegal survey, President Zelaya issues a second presidential decree again calling for a National Survey. But this time, he goes all the way and publishes it in the Gaceta. However, he makes changes to the wording in the decree. Instead of ordering “a Public Opinion Survey,” as he had worded the previous decree, he now changes the words to read, “Public Opinion Survey Convening a Constitutional Assembly.” This changes the legal interpretation of this decree entirely, and would’ve allowed for an immediate Constitutional Assembly to convene and disintegrate the three powers defined in the Constitution, effectively interrupting Constitutional Order.


With the publishing of this decree in the Gaceta, President Zelaya himself kicks into motion Article 239 which states that “whomever changes or attempts to change” Article 4 (an unchangeable “petreos” article protected by Article 374) relating to the alterability of the presidential position, “will be immediately removed from public office” and lose his/her constitutional powers.

NOTE: This is very important! As soon as the decree was published, President Zelaya automatically stopped being president and became a regular citizen.

June 26, 2009: The Courts, along with the Attorney General and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, order the Armed Forces to confiscate all National Survey ballots and voting material that had just arrived by plane.

That same day, in blatant disregard to all court rulings, Citizen Manuel Zelaya gathers a group of protesters and proceeds to the Air Force warehouse where the ballots had been impounded. He threatens with force, and uses human shields, risking other citizens’ lives.

Calling on Article 59, which states that the protection of “human life is the Constitution and the state’s supreme responsibility/obligation,” the Armed Forces yield to the mob and allow Citizen Zelaya and his human shields to take the ballots by force.

Immediately, the Supreme Court issues an arrest warrant for Citizen Manuel Zelaya for the crimes of (a) Attempts against the form of government, (b) Treason to the country, (c) Abuse of authority, and (d) Usurpation of functions belonging to other branches of government.

The Supreme Court orders the Armed Forces to serve this arrest warrant because according to Article 272, the Armed Forces has the constitutionally-assigned responsibility to maintain and protect the alterability of the presidential office.

June 27, 2009: Country leaders meet intermittently throughout the day in an effort to find an alternate means of resolving the situation without recurring to an arrest that would incite unrest and possible violence within certain segments of the population. In the meantime, the Armed Forces study Citizen Zelaya’s agenda in order to determine the best moment to execute the arrest with the least risk to the lives of Citizen Zelaya and the Presidential Guards surrounding him.

June 28, 2009: Having found no better time for the arrest, at 5:45AM, the Armed Forces capture Citizen Zelaya in his home. The arrest is successful without any injuries or deaths on both sides. Citizen Zelaya is instructed to get dressed, but wanting to be victimized, he refuses, only grabbing his passport and wallet (with the presidential palace’s credit card, by the way).

The Armed Forces decide to put Citizen Zelaya on the presidential plane and take him to Costa Rica where he is left behind. The Armed Forces and whoever else decided to expatriate Citizen Zelaya violated Article 102 which states that “no Honduran can be expatriated or surrendered to a foreign government.”

The Armed Forces is defending its decision by arguing that they again relied on Article 59 (protection of human life as supreme obligation of the state). They said that, in this case, breaking the law (art. 102) actually saved lives since they felt that placing Citizen Zelaya in a Honduran prison would’ve incited violence, unrest, and possible harm to Citizen Zelaya himself. Nonetheless, the State Prosecutor’s Office has started an investigation into this crime.

Per Article 242, when the President is absent and when the Vice President is absent (or resigned in Honduras’ case), the third instance is the President of Congress. Thus, the President of Congress, Roberto Micheletti, became President of Honduras.

I have but one question that I would like to ask the international community that is so adamant about not recognizing our existing government and is so vociferous at demanding that Honduras reinstate our criminal ex-President Zelaya:

What part of our Constitution would you force us to change, amend or erase so that we can reinstate Manuel Zelaya as President of Honduras without breaking the law?

Ian Merriam Honduras Webster’s dictionary defines a coup d’état as “The sudden, forcible overthrow of a government.” A military coup d’état would be that forcible overthrow by the military with the military taking over the running the country. Clearly, neither of these definitions apply here – at no point were the military running the government because the order was issued by the Supreme Court and the next in line to the Presidency, Roberto Micheletti, was sworn in as President. Only one man lost his job….and the same political party is still in power.

Webster’s also defines the single word coup as “A sudden, brilliantly successful move”……much closer to accurate!

So, here is Honduras, a country with a strong, still in action democracy, and with the vast majority of its people supportive of the rule of law which demanded the removal of a leader who believed he was above the law; we are being condemned by international sentiment. When, in fact, Honduras has become the voice for democracy – almost unanimously, citizens are standing up to overwhelming odds to support their constitution – is there no better definition for democracy?

The Honduran people would rather give up the critical aid they receive in order to keep their democracy! Business is as usual here; transportation into and around the country is normal, regular seasonal discounts are available to tourists, cruise ships still visit and scuba divers enjoy some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world.


One man has disrupted the continuation of government, and continues to do so with his reckless (thank you, Hillary for recognizing it this time) actions on the Nicaraguan border.

And yet the country goes on with the business of living with almost no change, except that thousands of people have lost their means of making a living for their families because his continued showmanship. Thankfully, people throughout the world are slowly realizing that the immediate reaction was erroneous, based on media reports from networks without correspondents in Honduras?

Honduras should be held up as “The Little Country That Could” and its citizens praised for their willingness to protect what they hold most dear – their freedoms and their constitution. Who else has been willing to defend their country against the progress of communism in the face of overwhelming odds? We should be applauding their sacrifice and doing whatever we can to help instead of denouncing the country and cutting off its lifelines.

The U.S. State Department cautions against traveling to Honduras…do you have the same courage as the poor Honduran people? We’re here; living normal, happy lives…come and visit us…that is how you can help. Tourism and investment in Honduras is one way to give people back their livelihood, their self respect. Foreign governments interfering with the constitution of Honduras outrageous, and overblown, inaccurate reporting of the situation by an unknowledgeable media is deplorable.

I’ve never been so proud of the people of my adopted homeland; the courage and restraint shown throughout the country is admirable. To defend one’s constitution in a non-violent manner and to be successful in that endeavor is rare. Help support Honduran democracy – come and visit us, you won’t believe your eyes!

I hope I wasn't supposed to obtain permission to put this on my blog. Is there a lawyer out there????

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Another Failed Attempt

Mel Zelaya tried to come home again yesterday. In my opinion, yet another move on his part that further shows the mentality of this man. I think the only 2 people he is listening to is Hugo Chavez and the little voice in his head that has given him such bad advice all along. Chavez (again, my opinion) would love for Zelaya to become a martyr. Why else would he send him to the border for a showdown with the police? And yes, I do believe Chavez is pulling his strings...such a Pinocchio. Nearly the entire time he spent standing on the brink of the Honduran border, he was on cell phones that people kept handing him. I wonder who he was talking to? Maybe the girlfriend of the guy who handed him the phone? Hugo, his best bud? Perhaps Insulza, who was screaming at him..."What the hell are you thinking??" I can't think of a single person who would have advised him to do what he did. And I'm curious as to who it was that convinced him to turn around and go back to Nicaragua. I think he was a bit miffed that he didn't have the expected welcoming committee of around 500,000 supporters, better known as the Red team, and instead saw 3-400. Could it have been the strategic roadblocks (dump trucks dumped dirt on the highway, effectively blocking the roads) set up to keep the number of supporters to a minimum? The pro-Zelaya demonstrations have been slowly fizzling out, probably due to the fact that they aren't being paid to attend these fun functions. When you get 3 tortillas and a ziplock bag of water in return for being bused to a get together (and you have no idea why), my guess is you stop attending. And then you have to figure out how to get back home.

Secretary Clinton called this visit "reckless." I call it an opportunity to get worldwide attention. CNN ("Chavez News Network") just now did a 20 second report on it and mentioned he had several hundred supporters there. Several hundred???? Most were reporters. And some of those supporters got a bit rowdy and started throwing rocks at the police. CNN reported that 2 people were injured when shots were fired to quell the crowd. Every gathering of those against the return of Zelaya (known as the White team) have been peaceful and MASSIVE. No one is reporting on the numbers because *gasp* that might show just what the people of Honduras really want. They don't want this man back in power. He stole from this country, he is guilty of misuse of power among other things and this country deserves better. They deserve support in their quest of a decent life. And they are not going to give in to pressures from outside of their country. My heart goes out to those who are standing up for their rights to a president who will be FOR the people, not for what he can get out of the office.

Mel Zelaya, go directly to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect any more of this country's money.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Honduras Coup Analysis - What's Really Happening in Honduras?

As most of you know, I have lived in Tegucigalpa for the past 14 months or so, working at the American Embassy here. This is a wonderful country...the people are terrific, the climate is fabulous and if you can overlook the crime and corruption, it's a great place to live.

That being said, there is some pretty serious political unrest going on here. I've been spending most of my time posting links to articles on my facebook about the current situation here. The links below are excellent sources and covers all the angles. Please take a minute and read them. From what my friends in the U.S. say, there is very little press on this subject in the states. But the crisis here and its issues are so important and will have a direct impact on things in the states (as in the flow of drugs into the U.S. and the protection of Democracy in this small country) and it's important to know what's going on. This is not a time to stick your head in the sand and ignore it. Just be informed is all I ask.

Other great sites that are covering this crisis are , Christian Science Monitor (google it...not sure of the addy) and the Wall Street Journal ( . You may have to create a log on for some of these, but they are great sources of information and worth the trouble, especially if your hometown news isn't covering whats going on here.

Honduras Coup Analysis - What's Really Happening in Honduras? - Esquire

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Time is Running Out

Interesting read...

July 2nd, 2009,

"Within the next 48 hours, the situation in Honduras will reach its most critical point yet. Deposed Marxist dictator Manuel Zelaya has set the stage to try to retake power in direct defiance of that nation's Supreme Court, its legislature, and the vast majority of the Honduran people.

And if Honduras falls, the rest of Latin America -- already at risk -- will not be far behind.
That's why it is more important than ever for us as Liberty Leaders to get out the facts to all we know -- as quickly as possible. The attached commentary from a leading Honduran attorney, Octavio Sánchez, sets the record straight: Manuel Zelaya was seeking a third term through attempting to amend a portion of the Honduran Constitution which is illegal to amend. His removal was legal and constitutional. For more background, also refer to the following legal memorandum further explaining the timeline of events as they occurred and legal complexities.

A 'Coup' in Honduras? Nonsense.
By Octavio Sánchez

Tegucigalpa, Honduras – Sometimes, the whole world prefers a lie to the truth. The White House, the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and much of the media have condemned the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya this past weekend as a coup d'état.
That is nonsense.

In fact, what happened here is nothing short of the triumph of the rule of law.
To understand recent events, you have to know a bit about Honduras's constitutional history. In 1982, my country adopted a new Constitution that enabled our orderly return to democracy after years of military rule. After more than a dozen previous constitutions, the current Constitution, at 27 years old, has endured the longest.

It has endured because it responds and adapts to changing political conditions: Of its original 379 articles, seven have been completely or partially repealed, 18 have been interpreted, and 121 have been reformed.

It also includes seven articles that cannot be repealed or amended because they address issues that are critical for us. Those unchangeable articles include the form of government; the extent of our borders; the number of years of the presidential term; two prohibitions – one with respect to reelection of presidents, the other concerning eligibility for the presidency; and one article that penalizes the abrogation of the Constitution.

During these 27 years, Honduras has dealt with its problems within the rule of law. Every successful democratic country has lived through similar periods of trial and error until they were able to forge legal frameworks that adapt to their reality. France crafted more than a dozen constitutions between 1789 and the adoption of the current one in 1958. The US Constitution has been amended 27 times since 1789. And the British – pragmatic as they are – in 900 years have made so many changes that they have never bothered to compile their Constitution into a single body of law.

Under our Constitution, what happened in Honduras this past Sunday? Soldiers arrested and sent out of the country a Honduran citizen who, the day before, through his own actions had stripped himself of the presidency.

These are the facts: On June 26, President Zelaya issued a decree ordering all government employees to take part in the "Public Opinion Poll to convene a National Constitutional Assembly." In doing so, Zelaya triggered a constitutional provision that automatically removed him from office.

Constitutional assemblies are convened to write new constitutions. When Zelaya published that decree to initiate an "opinion poll" about the possibility of convening a national assembly, he contravened the unchangeable articles of the Constitution that deal with the prohibition of reelecting a president and of extending his term. His actions showed intent.

Our Constitution takes such intent seriously. According to Article 239: "No citizen who has already served as head of the Executive Branch can be President or Vice-President. Whoever violates this law or proposes its reform [emphasis added], as well as those that support such violation directly or indirectly, will immediately cease in their functions and will be unable to hold any public office for a period of 10 years."

Notice that the article speaks about intent and that it also says "immediately" – as in "instant," as in "no trial required," as in "no impeachment needed."

Continuismo – the tendency of heads of state to extend their rule indefinitely – has been the lifeblood of Latin America's authoritarian tradition. The Constitution's provision of instant sanction might sound draconian, but every Latin American democrat knows how much of a threat to our fragile democracies continuismo presents. In Latin America, chiefs of state have often been above the law. The instant sanction of the supreme law has successfully prevented the possibility of a new Honduran continuismo.

The Supreme Court and the attorney general ordered Zelaya's arrest for disobeying several court orders compelling him to obey the Constitution. He was detained and taken to Costa Rica. Why? Congress needed time to convene and remove him from office. With him inside the country that would have been impossible. This decision was taken by the 123 (of the 128) members of Congress present that day.

Don't believe the coup myth. The Honduran military acted entirely within the bounds of the Constitution. The military gained nothing but the respect of the nation by its actions.
I am extremely proud of my compatriots. Finally, we have decided to stand up and become a country of laws, not men. From now on, here in Honduras, no one will be above the law."

Octavio Sánchez, a lawyer, is a former presidential adviser (2002-05) and minister of culture (2005-06) of the Republic of Honduras.

Monday, June 29, 2009

In The Midst of Chaos

My first overseas assignment and my first coup. I'm way too old for this.

Of course, I know it's no laughing matter. It's sad when a government is so terribly corrupt. It's sadder when it looks like he will get away with holding a 'poll' of the people to see if he should run for an additional term when the country's constitution forbids it. It's a shame when his best friend is Hugo Chavez. So, the military did what it felt it needed to do to preserve Democracy. They gave him an early wake up this morning, arrested him and whisked him away to Costa Rica. Then they proceeded to name the president of the Congress as the new President and he will serve out the remaining 6 months of Zelaya's term. They state they have a signed resignation from Zelaya...Zelaya denies it...the plot thickens by the minute.

This morning, there were tanks in the streets, jets flying low, soldiers with menacing looking guns and of course, supporters of Mel Zelaya in the streets. I haven't heard of any violence. Wait..I did hear that the Ambassadors of Cuba and Nicaragua somehow managed to find themselves in the street somewhere, one of them with a few bruises. But that has yet to be confirmed. Sad.

Messages have been sent out over the emergency radios that all embassy people were to stay home. I've done that all day. I've had a few calls from my bosses, filling me in on what's happening, which is very little. The last call came a few minutes ago informing me of the good news that I was Essential Personnel and (the bad news) I would have to report to work tomorrow. Apparently, the embassy will function on a limited staff for the safety of all Americans and locally employed staff (LES). And a word about our LES...they are the best in the world!!

Who knows what tomorrow will bring. In my mind, Zelaya's supporters are gathering around the campfire and planning their strategy. Chavez has vowed to defend Zelaya's right to be president...and he has placed his troops on standby. This has all the makings of a Movie of the Week.

P.S. All information here has been taken from different news sites. You can go to, or any other news source and probably read even juicier and/or more up to date stuff than what I've written here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Father's Day Suggestion

Father's Day is just around the corner. My father is 94 and for years I would try and come up with something special for him. A new sweater. A massager thingy. It was always hard to find something he would enjoy, knowing he already had everything. I then hit on the idea of giving him words from my heart. The first Father's Day Letter was thanking him for things that he did for me when I was young but never knew that a thank you would have been nice. It brought tears to his eyes. The next year, I wrote him about special memories as a child, times he made possible. Times that might not have been special at the time, but now are very special. Last year my annual letter to Dad was about the future. At 93, sometimes it's good to talk about what is still ahead. Like teaching his new grandson to play golf. Or to tell stories about how he ran bootleg when he was a teen. Well, maybe not that. My father has so many stories in his head...I wish he would be better about using the cassette recorder that was given to him to just talk into, recounting the adventures of his life. Years from now, his great grandsons would love to hear their great grandfather's voice. I know I will.
So, if you just don't want to give Dad another tie or bottle of aftershave, sit down at your computer and decide what you want to say to him. It's amazing...once you get started, it's hard to stop. I'm about to write my Father's Day message to my dad, tuck it in a card and mail it to him. He's in Texas, I'm in Honduras. A virtual hug will have to do until I get there later this year.
Love you Dad...Happy Father's Day.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Necklace of What????

I love jewelry. I have some very very nice pieces. Most of it is safely stashed away in a safe deposit box in a bank in Fort Worth, Texas. There's way too much crime where I live to wear diamonds and 14 carat gold.

Today I went to Valle de Angeles, a small village just outside of Tegucigalpa, Honduras where I live. I took a new member of the embassy staff to show her what a fun place it was and to hit some of the many little shops there. They sell everything, all handmade. We bought some artwork, wooden bowls, fresh mangos, painted pottery. And I bought a necklace. This is a most unusual necklace. When my friend Sally and I would go to Valle, we made sure we visited all our favorite shops. In one of these shops, they had a rack with lots of necklaces. I would admire this particular style of necklace. It was made with many small somethings (I had no idea what) that were practically weightless. The only problem was that they were always in colors that just didn't appeal to me. I was more intrigued with what they were made of than anything else.

Well, today, in one shop we visited that I had never been to, I saw the necklace with the same material. It was in many shades of brown and came with matching earrings. The owners of this shop were most helpful and immediately, without me asking, told me what the composition of this jewelry was.

I'm here to tell you that I am now the proud owner of a necklace made of FISH SCALES....multiple strands of lovely brownish taupe fishscales tied together in a lovely delicate brown thread with occasional brown glass beads. Who would have ever thought I would be wearing fish scales around me neck and on my ears???? Click on the picture for a larger version.

In Honduras, nothing goes to waste. And I think I'm going to have fun with this necklace! I'm thinking...Christmas presents!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day 2009

My mother died in January 1976. I would give anything if she were alive today so that I could tell her how much I loved her and how I appreciated everything she did for me...the sacrifices she made for me. And watch her face as she read the sappy card I always bought for her. Mother's Day is not just another Hallmark card day. It's a special day that hopefully makes you think about your mom and the love that exists between you both.

Mom, if things are as I hope they are, you've most likely heard me the many times I looked up and told you home much I love you and miss you today.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I love you...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day 2009

Today I thought about being a mother. As I look back on my role, I think I've done a pretty good job. Sure, there are a few things I would have done differently but overall, I'm very proud of my 2 children...very very proud.

In May of 1973, my daughter entered the world, causing me considerable pain! She was ready to make her grand entrance but my body wouldn't cooperate. After way too many hours in labor, my doctor decided to do an emergency C-section. I have to tell you...babies born in this manner are just gorgeous babies! There no distortion of the head, no trauma of that push push push action..just slice and deliver! She was born on Saturday night, at 11:50 PM. Ten minutes later, at midnight, I experienced my very first Mother's Day. The nurse in recovery will probably never forget it becuase as she was checking my IV, I turned my head to her and promptly vomited this lovely purple stuff. Ahhh yes..a day to remember!

She always had her index fingers extended and as she grew, she would touch new things delicately and with just one finger. I would go shopping with her in the stoller and people would stop me and comment on what a beautiful baby I had! She grew more beautifu as time went on, both inside and out. Today, at almost 36, she is one of my 2 most favorite people in the world.

The other most favorite person in the world to me is my son. He was due on Valentine's Day, 1975 but decided he was in just the right position to come a week early. My doctor scheduled my repeat C-section for noon on February 7th. I went to the hospital, was prepped and at about 11:45 was wheeled into the delivery room. My doctor came over to me and told me there was a group of med students who had not observed a C-section and did I mind an audience. At that point, you really don't care who sees you and I said sure. In walks about 17 students, all dressed in their surgical greens. My doctors start doing whatever they do on the other side of that green curtain and I after a bit, I turned my head to look at some of the students. One in particular had a funny look on his face. About that time, my doctor said "It's a boy!" This medical student kept looking more and more shocked and I kept asking..what's wrong? As it turned out, nothing was son was just a big baby! Today, at 34, he is the father of 3 sons...Gavin will be 3 next month and Micah and Makana turned 1 last March.

Everyone should be as fortunate as I am to have such wonderful kids. And this Mother's Day I will look back on the good times as well as the trying times. I'm in Honduras, far from my children who are in Washington DC and Hawaii. Distance has not and never will diminish my love for them.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

April in I Mean Tegucigalpa

Well, it's April where I live...Tegucigalpa, Honduras. It's that time of year when all the farmers (and whoever else) want to clear their fields to get ready to plant this years crop. I'm thinking maybe someone should let them know about plowing under the leftover dead plants or even cutting them down to feed the many skin and bone horses and cows I see all the time. Below are 2 pictures. One was taken last year around September while looking out my window at work. The other was taken today from the same window. That smoke will linger until the rainy season, which starts sometime in July. Then the torrential downpours will wash all the smoke away and commence to flood the streets and wreck havoc. I love the word havoc. And knucklehead. I digress....back to the smoke issues.

This is the 'before' shot. Note the clear view of the mountains, the clear picture of the houses. Well, make that shacks. Over 80% of ths country live below the poverty level, with an average annual income of around $1500US. Annual.

And then we have today's shot below, with lots of smoke and a really big polution factor. The news says it's a combination of the smoke from burning fields here and from neighboring Central American countries and just plain old pollution. I'm supposed to fly to Utila Friday but when the visibility gets bad, some planes just won't start their engines here. Wish me luck...I can't wait to get snorkeling in the ocean.

In the meantime, does anyone have about 100 huge fans we can place stratigically here and there to help blow the smoke away??

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Visit/Reunion Home

In Honduras, Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is a time when the entire place celebrates by leaving town for the week. Since the Embassy closed Wednesday-Friday, I decided a trip home was in order. It's a good thing to go home every opportunity that comes up because my next post may be somewhere far away and I won't be able to afford the quick trips home to Texas.

The day before I left Tegucigalpa (April 3) my son surprised me with the news that he and one of my grandsons, Gavin, would be flying to Texas too. And then, a few minutes later, he told me my daughter was also flying in. What a treat! So, for the past week, I've been enjoying my daughter, son and grandson and my father. I love it!

Today is the last day here, with a very early flight back to Teguc in the morning. I decided that getting up at 4AM to return rent car and get through security and be ready for a 6:30AM flight was a pain. So, I booked a room for all of us at the Hyatt Regency at the airport. We will return cars (both mine and my daughter's) tonight and have a nice dinner and a good night's sleep. My son's flight isn't until 9:30 so he gets to sleep in! By tomorrow afternoon, we'll all be back in our respective homes.

My next scheduled trip home is next summer. I may have enough miles to make the Teguc-Kauai-Fort Worth loop early next year, but if I don't, I'll have a great 3 week home leave to look forward to next summer. I can't believe I'm halfway through with my tour in Honduras.

Being with family is the greatest...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Ficus is a Ficus is a Ficus....

I've lived in Tegucigalpa, Honduras for about 10 months now and there's something that I've noticed that I want to share with you. When I lived in Texas, I used to look at a shrubs that were pruned into shapes and just wonder what possesses someone to turn a perfectly beautiful plant into a triangle, a ball or even (the worst) a group of balls. Well, I'm here to tell you that they absolutely LOVE to prune the Ficus trees and/or shrubs here!!! The sky is the limit when it comes to just what these lovely plants are shaped to resemble.

Here we have a lovely example of a...well, an exclamation mark? Maybe an egg? Perhaps it's a round ball that got out of hand.

On we go down the street and we come across this lovely row of oddly shaped boxy specimens. I can't wait to see what they do with them if they get too big for their spaces! Here's an example of artistic freedom and have yet to figure out just what the pruner had in mind when he connected the 2 trees. Is it 2 ducks kissing?? I really have no clue.

And then we have this really cool example of pruning a lovely tree into a basket, with a handle even! However, note that the garage door is directly behind the opening of the handle. It's my guess that the owner of this house got tired of not being able to see if a car was coming as he pulled out of his property and decided to kill 2 birds with one stone...make the tree a basket and then look through the handle!!

These next 2 trees (and I use that term loosely) are down the street from my house and I pass them every day. About every other day there is a man on a ladder pruning pruning pruning! Not one stray leaf is left by the time he's done. Anyone want to guess what this shape is called? These are about 15 feet tall....massive!

OK....I've saved the best for last. Well, at least the last of what I have photos of. I'm sure there are so many more works of art out there for me to photograph. I took this picture through the window of my car as I was driving. A guard sits outside the house directly across the street...with a very long 'gun' with a long barrel and a short handle. If I can stop someday and take a better picture, I will. Anyway, here it current #1 pick for Honduran Creativity in Ficus Sculpture!!! It's a tree...shaped like a HOUSE!!

Next time....Houses built in the shape of trees!!!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Twenty Five Things About Me

25 Things About Me You Probably Don't Know

  1. For 7 years I held a license to carry a concealed handgun in Texas.
  2. I’m allergic to Penicillin and Cipro. Good thing I’m healthy.
  3. I once hit a fantastic golf shot onto the green to within 4 feet of the cup from 190 yards out in front of Ben Hogan.
  4. I got Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon’’s autographs when they were filming Some Like It Hot. Wish I still had them.
  5. When I got my divorce after 25 years of marriage, I took my maiden name back.
  6. My first job while in high school was gift wrapping Christmas presents at the local department store, spending every dime of my pay on my Mom's presents.
  7. I was caught shoplifting Barbie clothes when I was 8. Never did it again.
  8. As a child, I had a blast trying to catch grunion on the beach in Coronado.
  9. I have over 257 different Nolan Ryan baseball cards. I went to Cooperstown when he was inducted in to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
  10. I don’t have a favorite food.
  11. On my first trip to Kauai, I did the helicopter tour. Best $135 I ever spent.
  12. Toughest interview in my life was the one for my State Dept job.
  13. I have too many "Best Day of My Life" to list.
  14. The day I hated being a grown up most was the day I had to put my cat, Brandy, to sleep.
  15. I have experienced love at first sight and it’s magnificent.
  16. No one believes me when they find out how old I am.
  17. One day, I WILL live near my grandchildren.
  18. I’m bilingual and love to keep it a secret sometimes and listen to what they are saying about me.
  19. The thing(s) I’m the most proud of is what great adults my children are.
  20. I will never try oysters or escargot.
  21. When I was 6 years old, I entered a contest to name the San Diego Zoo’s new moose. I sent in “Foghorn” and won a Shirley Temple doll.
  22. I have climbed up to the flame in the Statue of Liberty.
  23. I’m writing a book…the outline is nearly done.
  24. I would love to earn a living at photography.
  25. I do want to be married again…who wants to grow old alone?

Change...Some Good, Some Not So Good

I’ve now been in Honduras for a couple of days over 8 months and I’ve noticed some changes in myself. Some are subtle changes. Some are quite striking. Some are good and some quite possibly could get me in trouble when I return to the states!

For example, I am now a maniac on the road. I’ve come to realize that in order to survive while in the confines of your vehicle you need to take charge. You need to be assertive. You need to have nerves of steel. In short, you need to be a little crazy. If you show any weakness whatsoever, they (all the other crazy drivers on the road) will take advantage of you and crush you. I’ve lost all of the courtesy that I once showed when driving in Texas. If you are nice and let one car cut in front of you, you will incur the wrath of all of the cars behind you. You’ll also quickly realize that you weren’t just allowing that one car to cut in front of you or cross the street, but now there are 10 or 15 others, forming an unbreakable chain. It looks like their bumpers are glued together! Safety in numbers! CHARGE! So, there you sit, a line of cars crossing in front of you, the 40 or so cars behind you leaning on their horns (yea, that will sure make me plow through the car in front of me!), and everyone at a standstill because no one will yield to anyone else. And let’s not forget about the 12 motorcycles that have now seen a weak spot in the line of traffic and are virtually wiggling their way between cars to move forward. As a result, I’ve learned to only wave a car in front of me when I can clearly see there are no more behind him and there are not too many cars behind me. It is definitely survival of the most aggressive here in Tegucigalpa.

Something else that has changed about me is that I find I’m no longer a late night snacker. I used to love to snack after dinner was over. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t sleeping as well as when I first got here. I mentioned it to someone and they asked me if I ate late at night. I confessed my habit of getting a “little something” in the evenings. They told me that at this altitude, sometimes your digestion doesn’t happen as fast as you’d like so consequently, you lay in bed with a full stomach for hours. Your brain is overseeing your digestion and won’t rest until it’s done! Once I stopped heading for the kitchen late at night, I started sleeping better. I should have realized that long ago since many years ago, I lived in Mexico City and we always ate our big meal at 2:00 PM and at night had a small meal. Same reason…

I’ve also found that I have become a true volunteer. At the Embassy, I volunteer for whatever function or committee that comes along. Of course, it’s great for your EER (annual evaluation) but just getting out from behind my desk to go to meetings or realizing that I might have fun with a certain committee has made life better. I think this is the year of volunteering, or so I’ve heard on TV. You should consider it. What’s one afternoon or evening out of your life spent helping someone? Habitat for Humanity could really use some help. The local soup kitchen or even school might have some work that a good volunteer could do. Think of the good feeling you’d have during that one day a week that you helped someone else. I heard on CNN the other night that there’s a website set up and you can enter your zip code and it shows all the people/organizations who could use a hand in your area. If you’re smart in something…math, English, a foreign language…contact a high school and see if you can tutor some student. Imagine the welcoming smile from them (and their parents) when they find out you won’t charge $50 an hour!

Seriously…volunteering is a good thing. Give it a shot!