Am I worried about a new Constitution?

I am optimistic. Sure, there is an economic crisis around the corner, but soon things will change for the better, because soon the Zelaya administration will end.

In Honduras, worse than an economic crisis we have a permanent political crisis, due to our stubborn president, Mel Zelaya, and his underlings. The Mel administration is a disaster. I think it’s urgent for him to go, as soon as possible. What a nightmare would it be if he would stay.

But now, El Heraldo and La Prensa say he has admitted he wants to stay in power.

But it’s not true. It’s a shameless lie. They lie because they want to sell more newspapers. The headlines may suggest that, but if you read the whole story you see he hasn’t said that, explicitly. Mel hasn’t said such a thing.

But I’m sure he thought about it.

What he has said is that he wants a 4th ballot box in the next November elections. And in that box people will vote YES or NO for a new Constitution.

But what is the need for a new Constitution? Mel hasn’t said. But we can guess.

We get so suspicious.

In his recent meeting with Fidel Castro, Fidel said to Mel that four years are not enough to develop a leadership. We can guess Mel wants to stay in power to “develop his leadership”. Maybe he needs 20 years at least to develop it.

But it won’t happen, for a number of reasons.

As Daniel says it:

As I see it, if the sh*t hits the fan and there is a 4th ballot box, Mel will not be the president on the next term…because the other ballot boxes will elect our next president, So Mel would have to wait 4 years if he still is seeking power and then Callejas will surely rise to the occasion and proclaim he wants to be president again and I assure you that Callejas would win over Mel. So, unless something terribly corrupt arises, next year the pres will be Elvin or Pepe.

There won’t be re-election any time soon. We can rest assured.

The making of a new constitution takes time. There won’t be enough time for Mel to make his move. There are also political forces in his own party against him.

That said, a new Constitution is not a bad idea in principle. Better laws can be made, more democracy can be achieved. But we have to be extremely careful about the special interest groups, because they will lobby for their agenda, and not for the Honduran people agenda. That is always a risk.

Manuel Zelaya: Our controvertial president

If I had to describe our current president, Manuel Zelaya, I would say he is an outgoing person, with a rural style. He is a man from the country, or wants to appear as such. He loves to wear Texan hat and boots, even with suit and tie. He loves to hear and sing the rural Mexican folk songs known as rancheras. His mustache is part of that ranchero outlook. That’s why Hugo Chavez calls him “Cowboy Commander”. His style of government is populist and authoritarian.

I compare Manuel Zelaya to George W. Bush in his relaxed demeanor. They can do or say the dumbest things, and you’ll always find people who love them. But unlike Bush, Zelaya is a self-styled leftist figure. His recent meeting with Fidel Castro consecrated him as part of the Latin American Left, with personalities like Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, Rafael Correa and Daniel Ortega.

But Zelaya’s political party, the Liberal Party, is not so “liberal” after all. In the times of Cold War it played as a key ally of the U.S., back when there was another rural looking president: Roberto Suazo Cordova. That was in the eighties. In that time, there was an incipient democracy, and the militaries held much of the political de facto power. The U.S. ambassador from that time, John Negroponte, was known as the “proconsul from the Empire”. The human rights situation was delicate.

The objectives of political and economical development of the Honduran State were subordinated to the objectives of “national security” of the U.S.. Manuel Zelaya’s father, who had the same name as his son, collaborated with the militaries in a massacre of unsubordinated civilians at the place known as “Los Horcones”.

But things change, and with the new populists airs in Latin America, Zelaya joins the group. His rhetoric is even anti-American at times, but as he uses covered references and diplomatic language, he can always deny he is anti-American.

He rose to power with the promise of dropping the local oil prices, and he spent the first two years of government in a failed public tender project. The irony is that oil international prices began to drop due to the current economic recession in the U.S., and not to his presidential efforts. I consider this as big failure of his government, but people here rarely notice that.

Zelaya has everybody entertained with his controversial measures and sayings in a weekly basis. When he decided to incorporate Honduras to ALBA, the alternative of Hugo Chavez to the free trade scheme proposed by the U.S., he lifted a lot of opposition.

The same happened when he recently raised the minimum wage in a disproportionate way. He didn’t take heed of the warnings of coming unemployment.

Zelaya is not much given to dialogue. He prefers to polarize public opinion, and to impose his policies with weak populist arguments.

I think this government is a disaster, and wait anxiously the end of this administration. But it is rumored he wants to stay in power, and in order to do that he plans to reform the present Constitution through a referendum. If that’s true, I don’t think he’ll get away with it. It’s just another one of his silly ideas destined to failure.

Elvin Santos promises a Honduran Alcatraz

Taken from El Heraldo. (3/3/09)

The presidential candidate for the Liberal Party, Elvin Santos, repeated this Tuesday his intentions to build a Honduran “Alcatraz”, and promised the biggest public investment “this country has ever seen”.

The contender for the presidency of the party in power, in declarations to the radio station HRN, accused the contender for the opposition, Porfirio Lobo Sosa, of repeating “like a tape recorder” the proposals he makes in his campaign.

The ex- vice president of Honduras referred this morning to the problem of lack of public safety in Honduras. “We live as prisoners” in our houses, because the criminals are free in the streets, he criticized.

He manifested that during his government, if he wins the coming elections of November; there won’t be any imprisonment centers, but rehabilitation centers.

He also said he has identified the land where he will build the Honduran Alcatraz, without conjugal visits or the privileges that many prisoners enjoy in the Honduran prisons.

Manuel Zelaya meets Fidel Castro

Mel Zelaya finally meets his idol: Fidel Castro.

Castro says Zelaya has “a deep aversion to the United States economic system”.

So it looks that Zelaya and Castro are comrades in their anti-Americanism.

Read here Castro’s article:

Fidel Castro: My Meeting with Zelaya

The superiority of Yankee Culture

We live in an underdeveloped country.

Why are we underdeveloped?

I was talking with my parents the other day, and they believe that the British who went to America had a superior culture than the Spaniards who came to our countries. Most of those Spaniards were thieves and adventurers. They came here for the gold.

In contrast, the Europeans that went to America were fleeing from religious persecution. They brought to America their great culture. They went to work, not to have easy reaches.

And that’s the reason we are the way we are.

We need to learn from Americans. We need to be more disciplined and work harder.

I am so skeptic of that rhetoric.

I asked my father “Do you really believe in the superiority of Yankee culture? I don’t. I know Americans can be very superficial, with no real appreciation of culture”.

And he said “It’s not their culture, but their industriousness, that’s the reason for their economic power”.

“Are you aware”, I said, “that Hugo Chavez would call you a “pitiyanqui”?”

“Pitiyanqui” is a word that Chavez uses to denigrate his enemies. He implies that those who adverse him are pro-Yankees, or anti-Venezuelan. “Pitiyanqui” also suggests someone who admires Yankees and wants to be like them. It has servile connotations.

We don’t need to imitate Yankees, we have our own perspective.

Am I anti-American or what?

Is there anti-Americanism in Honduras?

You bet there is. That should come as no surprise. A lot of people hate America and their people. But Americans say “I’m a decent person, I harm no one”. “Yeah, but your government does”, is usually the answer. Some of the big names in Anti-Americanism are Americans, like Noam Chomsky.

Am I anti-American?

Part of me is.

There are reasons, but is mostly emotional (or irrational). I don’t like the way some my fellow countrymen are treated when they go to America. I perceive most Americans have unjust prejudices against our people, and I hate that. I perceive many Americans think we are given to vice, and that we deserve to be “underdeveloped”. In contrast, America is great for their virtuous-working-disciplined people. But we are lazy dreamers, and that’s the reason of our problems. Maybe it’s true, but that conception sounds terribly condescending to me. I prefer to think we are the way we are for some structural economic-historical reasons, not for our inherent malice.

USA is a political-economic-military superpower, and has used its power to advance its interests in detriment of other countries, and we resent that. If we check Latin America’s history we see undesirable American interventionism; here in Honduras too. We resent the fact that ordinary American citizens support their government in evil causes like the war against Iraq. Many Latin people saw from the beginning that that war was not justified.

We see beautiful Americans in movies and TV shows, but in real life we see a lot of gringos whose skin is so pale, the first thought I have is: they need some tan, urgently. I see many gringos in Tegucigalpa, and I think they dress terribly. And I often wonder: is that some kind of gringo-tourist uniform? Do you dress lousy, because you want to give the impression that you’re poor or something, in order to discourage thieves? I mostly don’t feel attracted to the American women I see here.

I hate to see Americans who have lived years in this country, and don’t really care to know more about our culture, and learn some decent Spanish.

I hate when I go to a fast food restaurant, and have to wait extra-long, because there are a bunch of gringos that came in a tour who are taking all the orders. I specially hate when those gringos are Mormons. I think “We have enough religions here; we don’t need a new one”.

The ironic thing is I’m a big consumer of Anglo-Saxon culture, I managed to learn some English by myself, I even look pale-skinned as gringo…

But it can be denied that even people who hate the gringos love the dollars… That’s why most Americans are treated nicely here. It’s part of our (bourgeois) culture that those with money are admired and respected.

Maybe I was a little bit too cynical above. Some people love the gringos because they see them as something exotic. They are curious about you, and want to learn more. They often wonder: “What the heck are these gringos doing here? I’d rather be in America”.

People are especially enraged when a Honduran criminal is executed by American authorities. They are always inclined to believe that such criminal is innocent, and feel some kind of cheap patriotism.

People with leftist sympathies are more prone to anti-Americanism. I remember a college professor who said that America is not a nation, and has no national identity. They want the US to abandon Palmerola military base. Some thought our current president was about to do it.

By the way, our current president, Manuel Zelaya, has given hints of anti-Americanism, mainly in some speeches directed to foreign audiences. His rapprochement with Hugo Chavez is suspicious to say the least. He didn’t want to accept the current US ambassador’s credentials, in solidarity with Evo Morales from Bolivia. But he always denies he’s anti-American.

I hope I didn’t sound too bitter in this rant. I needed to get this out of my chest. I like when Americans our interested in our culture, and do their best to learn our language.

Now blogging in English

I’ve been blogging in Spanish for some time. Now I think it’s time to try to make a blog in English about Honduras. Why? It’s like Aaron, the guy from Pensieve said: I can have a bigger audience that way. He writes better in English anyways. It’s not so easy for me, it’s outside from my comfort zone, but I’m going to give it a try.

It should be no surprise that a blog in English about Honduras could be more successful that an similar blog in Spanish, even when most people in Honduras don’t speak English. Most people in Honduras don’t have an Internet connection in their homes. I certainly don’t. In contrast, Internet is dominated by the English language.

The orientation of this blog will be influenced by the intended audience, which is mostly American expats, I guess. It has to be different from my current blog in Spanish for obvious reasons. I’ll have to take into account the American point of view, and explain things I take for granted when I write in Spanish. I’m writing to people with a different culture. Let’s see how it works.