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!