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!