Jan 23

The myth of Honduras’ Independence Day

Honduran national emblem

Many Hondurans believe that Honduras’ Independence Day is on September 15, 1821. In fact, September 15th is a Honduran national holiday, and this date is at the foot of the national emblem surrounded by the Legend: Republic of Honduras, Free, Sovereign and Independent.

However, this is not correct.

Honduras did not come to life as an independent country, but as State that was part of the Central American Federation.

Another group of more informed Hondurans would tell us that September 15, 1821 is the date on which Central America proclaimed its independence from Spain, but this is also mistaken.

The famous “Declaration of Independence” of September 15, 1821 doesn’t even establish the Independence of Central America, but postpones the decision on this issue, delegating it to a Congress that that would meet in March 1822. That Congress never met.

In fact, the Bill of Independence of September 15, 1821 was just an aristocratic maneuver made to prevent an Independence with revolutionary scopes. The Bill of September 15th sought to maintain the colonial regime, with the same authorities that now wouldn’t be accountable before Spain.

Independence was only taken into consideration by the local elite of Spanish descent as measure of last resort to “prevent the terrible consequences that would follow in case the people itself proclaims it” as says the same declaration drafted -but not signed— by Jose Cecilio del Valle, considered as a national hero in Honduras.

This exposes the falsity of the claim found in the Honduran national anthem, the lyrics of which were written by Augusto C. Coello. A stanza of said anthem compares what happened on 15 September 1821 with the French Revolution.

The truth is that September 15, 1821 is not a glorious date of national liberation, but a date on which the expectations of the Patriots were betrayed and democracy was trampled, because the aristocracy immediately maneuvered to attach Central America to Iturbide’s Mexican Empire, in order to maintain their privileges threatened by a democratic and republican revolution. This annexation was declared on January 5, 1822.

The annexation bill to Mexico was drafted —and this time signed— by Jose Cecilio del Valle, which is held as a great hero in Honduras. And yet it was under the influence of Valle on the Mexican Congress that Central America won its independence from Mexico, Independence that was proclaimed officially on July 1, 1823 by the Central American Constituent Assembly.

The Constituent Assembly decided that the system of government of Central America would be republican and federal, granting autonomy to each of the five States that comprised it: Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

Under this Constitution Manuel Jose Arce was elected as Central America’s first president on March 5, 1824, and on 16 September, 1824 Dionisio de Herrera was elected as the first Chief of State of Honduras.

But the Central American Federation was unable to consolidate under the strong opposition of conservatives, who wanted to preserve the oppressive system of privileges of the Spanish Colonization.

Upon Gen. Francisco Morazan fell the task of fighting against the anti-democratic reaction, which found a strong ally in Catholic obscurantism, but the proportion of forces didn’t favored him, and Morazan had to pay with his life the audacity to dream with the Great Central American Motherland. Morazan was executed by firing squad on September 15, 1842 in Costa Rica.

With the death of Morazan the conservative reaction triumphed, and the dream of a Central American Federation was truncated. But Honduras had already been declared independent of the Central American Federation on October 26, 1838. This date was of no glory to Honduras, it was a historical setback that sunk the Honduran government in a strong anti-Morazanic reaction in the hands of president Francisco Ferrera.

The democratic and republican ideal just begun timidly on 1876 in Honduras in the so called “Liberal Reform”, led by president Marco Aurelio Soto and his minister and advisor Ramon Rosa.

Then followed fifty years of fratricidal wars, ending in the 16-year dictatorship of Tiburcio Carias Andino. Carias ruled from 1933 to 1949.

Carias finally manages to put an end to civil wars and insurgent movements, with the downside of a high social cost, for the brutal repression that was unleashed against the enemies of the regime.

Carias administration’s repression achieved the consolidation of the Honduran State, but this consolidation was accompanied by subordination of the interests of Honduras to the U.S banana companies. The influence of the United States never allowed the Honduran State to be truly independent.

Gradually the Honduran people have been conquering more and more spaces of democratic freedom, but the cancer of internal corruption and the dependence on foreign aid is still an affront to the national dignity.

Honduras Independence, therefore, is not an epic event that happened in the past, as taught in Honduran formal education, but it is something that Honduras has been achieving with difficulty, and it’s still a project to be carried out.

If you want to know more about Honduran and Central American history you can order the book Understanding Central America: Global Forces, Rebellion, and Change on Amazon.

Source for this article: “Evolución histórica de Honduras”, by Longino Becerra. Baktun Editorial.

Jan 21

Patuca hydroelectric power projects speed up

The Honduran National Congress approved on Monday, January, 17 a decree for the construction of the hydroelectric power plants of Patuca II, Patuca IIA and Patuca III, in Olancho, and Los Llanitos and Jicatuyo in Santa Barbara.

It is expected that in three years Patuca III or Piedras Amarillas will be generating its first 104 megawatts of power, and then will begin the construction of Patuca II or Valencia and Patuca IIA or Tarrosa.

After the President makes a declaration of the areas to be expropriated, they will pass to the State ownership, with full rights.

An Appraisal Committee, composed of different state institutions, will determine the fair price to pay to the rightful owners of the land.

On February, 1 will begin the construction of the first phase of Patuca III, and it is expected that by January 2014 it will begin to generate electric power.

The Patuca III access road will be passing by Jamastran, department of El Paraiso.

The Patuca hydroelectric power project comprises three eastern departments: Olancho, El Paraiso and Colon. The projects will be funded by Mainland China, after Taiwan declined to do it last year.

These hydroelectric projects were pending from the administration of Manuel Zelaya, who could not carry them out.

It is projected that the three dams on the Patuca River will be completed in nine years, generating 524 megawatts of power.

With these hydropower projects Honduras will stop depending on thermal energy, thereby also getting cheaper energy.

The Ministry of Natural Resources (SERNA) determined that Patuca hydroelectric projects will not cause environmental damage in the Platano River Bioshphere, as that river does not even go near to that protected zone. Patuca projects have an environmental license expended by the Zelaya administration, however, in order to dispel any doubt, it has been subjected to an audit by the World Bank.

At first it was thought that this Patuca III hydroelectric power plant would take five years to build, but now with the help of the Continental Chinese the projected time has been reduced to three years.

For projects Los Llanitos and Jicatuyo a source of financing has not yet being identified, but the government is working on it.

Jan 20

Charter Cities are on their way in Honduras

Yesterday in Honduras were approved some changes to the Political Constitution by the National Congress, in order to clear the way for the establishment of Charter Cities in Honduras. This changes need to be ratified by the Congress after the 25th of this month.

The Honduran National Congress’ website explains what is the Honduras’ government conception of the Charter Cities, and its application to the Honduran reality:

What is a Model City or Charter City?

A Model City, or Charter City, as Americans call it, is a small territorial area of a particular country, with its own regulations and rapid economic development. In Honduras it is intended for the National Congress to approve that a small portion of the national territory may be selected with the intent of creating a center of progress and well-being, unique in the Latin-American region.

This city will have its own administration, depending on the National Government, that is, it will have a governor of Honduran nationality who will direct or administer that area or zone of the territory, who will be appointed by the President of the Republic then in office.

This kind of governor will have similar functions to that of a mayor in a municipality and therefore any issue raised will be resolved or judged by the local authority, either through a board or through any other means designated by the National Government.

In legal aspects the Judicial Branch will be able to intervene through certain judges with special characteristics, who are going to have their residence in the area in question. Tax collection will be internal, since these territories are established as free trade zones.

Education in these areas will be 100 percent bilingual. The English language is to be preferred, but other options are German, French or any European or Asian language.

In this way, and from this point of view, there would be no dismemberment of the national territory, because sovereignty is inviolable, as the Constitution says, but what would indeed exist is the participation of national and foreign investors attending this territory in order to express their intents regarding the behavior of its administration.

For the information of the people in general, this issue is being discussed and negotiated with the five political parties represented in the Legislative Branch, and with business and industry sectors of the country, since it is expected that this project will provide the nation a development never seen before, and as an example we can refer to what happens in Mainland China, where 16 zones of this nature already exist, as it was the case for many years with Hong Kong City.

In Honduras, various places of the national geography are being mentioned to build such city, as for example the Valley of Agalta in Olancho or some regions in the department of Colon, among others, which are almost uninhabited, almost pristine zones, that do not have any production, but in order to achieve this objective it is necessary and important to have the assistance of all country sectors.

Jan 19

Banana novel: Prision Verde (Green Prison) summary

This novel is certainly one of the most popular in Honduras, not for the perfection of the author’s literary art, but for his courageous denunciation of Honduran workers exploitation by the U.S. banana companies.

The author, Ramon Amaya Amador, worked for some time in the banana plantations sprinkling poison. When he practiced journalism he denounced the workers exploitation he witnessed by first hand, and for that reason he won the antipathy of the dictatorial regime of Tiburcio Carias Andino —a tyrant who defended the interests of the banana companies— so he had to leave the country in exile.

Ramon Amaya Amador used his banana field experience in the writing of this novel. The author’s purpose, rather than making a literary contribution, was to create a political consciousness able to produce social changes, improving the living conditions of Honduran workers.

According to writer Armando Garcia, the book Prision Verde “has been the most persecuted in the country. For a long time it was an evidentiary exhibit for imprisonment. The old men of my town still lower their voices to the mere mention of its name. Many times it was buried in the solitude of the yards after the Coup d’Etat.” (Armando Garcia, 1997).

Banana fields are described in the novel as a “green prison” because of the mysterious attraction they exerted on workers who live there, who despite being exploited and abused, felt the urge to stay working in the plantations despite all difficulties.

Amaya Amador began his story in the atmosphere of one of the companies’ offices, in which a “gringo boss” —Mr. Still— was trying to convince the landowner Luncho Lopez to sell his land to the banana company. In his attempt he was helped by two Lopez’s friends: Sierra and Cantillano, who had already sold their land, and tried to influence their friend to do the same, but he refused stubbornly.

After the meeting with the landlords, enters Mr. Martin Samayoa looking like homeless after wasting the money given to him by the Company for his land, hoping that Mr. Still would give him a job as a foreman, but Still despised him and sent him to find work as a laborer. Discouraged by the snub and with no money, Samayoa was lucky to meet worker Maximo Lujan, who took him to live in his house —a miserable crowded place where he lived with another plantation workers— and also got him a job sprinkling poison.

The foreman of the company, which gave the job to Samayoa, and for which Maximo Lujan also worked, was a Honduran who spoke with gringo accent, because his servility was so pathetic he wanted to imitate his gringo bosses, attitude which earned him the contempt and ridicule of those who worked for him, although for obvious reasons they did not dare to tell him that in his face.

In each book’s episode there is always some injustice done by the Company that causes outrage among plantation workers. But not everyone has the same awareness of their situation, some people have become accustomed to oppression, they see it as something normal in the world and do not complain. But Maximo Lujan’s group is becoming increasingly socially conscious. Contrary to proponents of indiscriminate violence as a response to oppression —like old Lucio Pardo- Lujan proposes that working class’ victory lies in its ability to organize, and that until they have created their own political party and brought down the dictatorship there cannot be a substantial improvement in the lives of plantation workers.

Lujan reads worker newspapers, he reads them out loud in the social gatherings at night with his comrades, those newspapers confirm his revolutionary beliefs and offer him new perspectives. The death of a comrade —Don Braulio— who also sprinkled venom— caused indignation to workers, it made them think. Facing the dead body of his comrade, who died from tuberculosis in the middle of work, Lujan says, “This man was one of the many deceived and exploited. He put his life force in the plantations, first with the desire to make a fortune and then by the need to earn a crust. He was eaten by the banana plantation! He died standing with the hose in his hand, serving the foreign masters.”

On traditional political parties: the National Party and the Liberal Party, Lujan says, “They have the same essence: oligarchy; they suffer the same disease: demagogy, and they serve the same master: the Banana Companies” … “In politics we need something different than traditional caudillismo, different than cronyism, than the paternalism of personages. We need to translate the aspirations of the working masses into a political ideal, and we need to translate this ideal into a real workers’ party, a real revolutionary party. We must not believe in idol-men. Our history is full of their promises.”

Women are also victims of the banana companies’ capitalist oppression. Poverty forces many female plantation workers to engage in prostitution. Gringotized Captain Benitez rapes and impregnates Catuca Pardo —a Lujan’s group’ woman— abandoning the resultant baby. A gringo boss —Mr. Jones— falls in love for Juana —another woman of Lujan’s group— but as she has a husband she rejects his advances. Given this situation, another gringo boss decides to send someone to
kill the husband, clearing the way for his comrade. After time, Juana makes a deal of regular sex with the gringo in love, in exchange for some money and a job as a poison sprinkler. She did this in order to help Catuca’s son. Juana never knew who killed her husband. Americanized Captain Benitez was also involved in this murder.

Estanio Parraga —the banana company lawyer— convinces landowner Luncho Lopez to work as a banana independent producer, coming to terms with the company. Luncho Lopez is excited with his new role as a banana entrepreneur, but the company does not give him the agreed supplies and this causes him to fall into ruin. At that point he realizes the company deceived him to make him fall into bankruptcy and force him to sell his property. But Lopez still stubbornly refuses to sell. Given this negative, the National Party’s government intervenes and threatens to take away his land by force. Luncho Lopez dies of sadness, because he had been a great defender of the nationalist dictatorship. In that moment he realized the stateless attitude of government authorities.

The other landowners, Cantillano and Sierra, also end up in ruin after being cheated in business by Estanio Parraga, who besides being the company’s lawyer was also a representative in Congress. Sierra and Cantillano ended up looking for jobs as laborers in the company, sharing the same misfortune that first felt upon Martin Samayoa.

Workers’ situation worsened with the rising prices of grocery store products, owned by the same banana company. The government collects taxes on workers in order to build schools and hospitals, yet they do not receive any of these services. And they are not allowed to protest and form unions.

When a crane driver died in an accident, a gringo boss gets mad at the deceased for spoiling the machine worth thousands of dollars, shouting angrily: “I’d rather have a hundred of these bastards dead!”. This causes great indignation to workers, who are fed up with humiliations, so they decide to strike. And they appoint Maximum Lujan as director of the strike, who accepts the charge,
even when he thinks the strike has been made prematurely.

Lujan was right. What happens next confirms it. The strike was quickly suppressed by the military. Lujan’s comrades are taken as prisoners, and he is killed and buried beneath a banana tree.

The old Lucio Pardo, in revenge for Lujan’s death —to whom he loved as his own kid— produced the derailment of a rail-car with important company people on board: a gringo boss —Mr. Foxer— two foremen: Encarnación Benítez and Carlos Palomo, and the Colonel who killed Lujan. They all die in the accident.

The gringo bosses wanted to give and exemplary punishment, and used torture to make Lucio and his friends confess, to no avail. But the ex-landowners, Sierra and Cantillano, are not so strong, they confess under torture a crime they didn’t commit. They were about to kill Sierra and Cantillano when Lucio Pardo, in order to free the innocent, appears before their torturers to confess he was the author of the attack. Lucio Pardo dies hanged by the military.

The novel closes with the friends remembering Maximo Lujan and his legacy: “The green prison is not only darkness. Maximo lit here the first revolutionary torch. Hundreds of siblings are now responsible for keeping it upright.”

Buy the book Prision Verde here on Amazon.

Jan 17

Romer’s Charter Cities in Honduras

Paul Romer is an economist at Stanford University known for his contributions to the economic theory of growth. After writing several articles in the late 80’s, Paul Romer left academic research to pursue his own business, and now he focuses his energies on promoting his Charter Cities project.

After a trip to the United States, President Lobo and Congress President, Juan Hernandez, went back to Honduras, very excited, supporting the Romer’s ideas. And no wonder. This is a golden opportunity for Honduras development.

The essential idea of Romer’s charter city model is simple. Development is not based on technology itself, nor knowledge, but on good rules expressed in laws and customs that allow to channel the creative energy of people. The cause of the underdevelopment of countries like Honduras is bad laws that do not encourage the necessary investment to boost the country.

So the obvious solution is to change laws, to change the rules of the game, and everything else will follow.

However, it’s not so simple. Profound changes generate enormous resistance from vested interests and popular demands.

Romer’s solution is to create a city from scratch in an uninhabited area, and to provide it of good standards from the beginning, good laws that encourage investment and creativity. This way authoritarian temptations are avoided, the government need not impose anything by force, and no one will be forced to go to a charter city.

Romer likes to put the example of the electricity problem of Guinea, where young people have to study under the street lights at night, because they don’t have electricity in their homes. This is because poor government policies, a rule that sets such a low price for electricity that makes the company loose money for each additional unit sold, so there is no incentive to connect more users. When the president of Guinea tried to change this situation, he had to retreat under the pressure from businesses and consumers accustomed to payinv low fees. In contrast, mobile phone companies do not have this restriction, so there are young people without electricity in their homes who do have cell phones.

The solution to this dilemma is to give more options to people and leaders, and the Charter City is the model that allows us to give more options to both. Instead of attacking head-on the resistance to change, we simply evade it.

A lot of people worry that the charter cities will be handing territory to foreign powers or private investors, however, such is not necessary in the model proposed by Romer. Following the example of the city of Shenzhen in China, Honduras itself could put the new rules for the Charter City, even when others put the money. However, having a strong country or a company sponsoring us can bring more credibility to the project, a credibility that the country may not have by itself.

The issue of national sovereignty is very sensitive, and must be handled with care, remembering that the ultimate goal of the State is the human person as stated by the doctrine of Christian Humanism touted by president Lobo. We must not close our minds against a project that could benefit thousands of compatriots in the name of a misunderstood patriotism. The true patriots seek to benefit their country, and this is certainly a unique opportunity to raise the quality of life of many Hondurans.

Some people want the Charter City to apply the same laws as the rest of the territory, to preserve legality and not sully the national sovereignty. But this makes no sense. The purpose of the charter cities is to provide better rules, regulations or laws than those already being applied in the rest of the country. If the rules of the game are not changed there will be no way to attract massive foreign investment and boost national development. If Honduran laws and government system were the best there would be no need to create charter cities.

The conception of the Honduran government of Charter Cities is explained here.

Jan 16

Indigenous Pech who believe in Aliens

Pech believe their ancestors had communication with Aliens.

This race, which once occupied part of the municipality of Catacamas, retains its own language and cultural elements, their average height is 1.65 m, they have strongly built bodies, clear brown skin, slightly oval face, straight hair and very thin and sparse mustache and beard.

They maintain the ancestral authority of a chief, although in recent years they have downgraded him to the level of a mentor, for his moral strength, because now communities are managed by tribal councils.

Even when the chief exercised absolute power, I was able to observe in a Pech community how the highiest tribal authority reached decisions through consensus. It happened in La Danta, Culmi, in 1971, when I asked him about whether or not to launch a development project, the chief then observed one by one the faces of a dozen people who were under his command. His aides did not speak, but he interpreted their countenance and answered according to the majority criterion.

Until that year they still held an entrenched community life: They had forests, crops; beekeeping, poultry and swine farms, all in common. This ancient practice has been weakening, but by then, when a couple married or decided to cohabit, the entire community built their house.

The Pech are one of the rare native cultures in the world who believed in the existence of extraterrestrial life, as revealed in recent years, but with a lot of reservation, by tribal elders to young leaders.

Each tribe had a special personage, called “Wata”, who was the repository of ancient wisdom. He selected his successor, who also had to keep secret all this knowledge.

Even when the tribe had its chief —as it is still the case in Nueva Subirana— he consulted many issues with the wise man. In practice there was one authority in charge of earthly activities and one in charge of spiritual matters: the “Wata”.

This important figure had supernatural powers and such wisdom that he could predict events and cure diseases with rites, plants and animal substances, according to tradition.

Although it seems unlikely, the Pech hold the belief that the “Wata” had communication with spirits from other planets, as revealed in recent years by elders of Santa Maria del Carbon, according to the testimony of the head of the Federation of Pech Tribes of Honduras (FETRIPH), Carlos Alberto Lopez Catalan.

There is even a particular story in the Pech tradition about a space odyssey of a “Wata”.

“Before this era, an alien visited a Pech community and revealed that in the ‘Seventh Planet’ lived another “Wata”. The people got together and asked their spiritual leader to visit this beautiful place in order to be convinced of the existence of the alien “Wata”. After a dangerous odyssey, the Indigenous leader met his rival, confronted him, was defeated, but with the help of a goddess could return alive to Earth according to Indigenous mythology.

The “Wata” dominated nature but ceased to exist after the Spanish conquest, which tried to destroy their culture and abolished Pech religion converting them to another faith, said Lopez Catalan.

Faithful to their tradition, the leader said that the Pech still believe there are “humans on other planets” but “powerful governments don’t want this to be known in order not to worry Mankind, because a possible conquest of Earth cannot be ruled out”, according to his thinking.

Taken from the book “Catacamas: Del ayer al año 2000” by Winston Irias Calix.

Jan 15

The story of Chief Lempira

Chief Lempira

Lempira was an important leader of the Indigenous resistance against Spanish domination. His area of operations was a vast and rough territory in the southern half of what is now the Lempira department in Honduras.

The chronicler Antonio de Herrera described Lempira, whose name means ‘Lord of the Mountains’, as “of medium height, thick back and thick limbs, brave, courageous and intelligent. He never had more than two women and died at the age of around 38 to 40 years old.”

In 1537, after the death of Chief Entepica, to whom Lempira served as lieutenant, Lempira called a meeting of around 200 peoples with the purpose to fight together against the Spaniards; among them was the Cares tribe, traditional enemy of the Cerquin Tribe, to which Lempira belonged.

Lempira persuaded 30.000 men to fight for their freedom, and offered to be the captain who would lead them to victory, promising to face the greatest dangers, because he considered to be unacceptable for so many bold men to be subdued by a few foreigners.

The warriors were positioned in high and fortified places called “Peñoles” (Rocky Hills) by the Spaniards, having there the entire community provisioned with abundant supplies.

The main Rocky Hills of the Indian alliance were the Gualapa hill, the Congolon peak, Coyocutena hill, the Cerquin Rock, the El Broquel and Gualasapa hills.

But the most important entrenchment was undoubtedly the Cerquin Rock, lead by Lempira himself. The Spanish governor of the province, Francisco Montejo, understood that if he wanted to advance the process of conquest he needed to seize the fortress, for which mission he appointed Captain Alonso Caceres, who with his men besieged the Rocky Hill during six months, but the Indians, who were with their wives and children well stocked with food, bravely resisted the siege, causing Spaniard casualties with their arrows, arrows which had sharp stone tips.

Seeing the brave indigenous resistance, captain Alonso Caceres decided to take the fortress by treachery. He had a soldier to approach with his horse a rock where Lempira stood, and while Caceres was making peace proposals to him, another soldier riding on the rump shot him with his musket. The ploy was fulfilled to the letter, and at the death of the Indian captain, the large force that accompanied him scattered through the mountains, and shortly after surrendered to the Spaniards.

Chronicler Herrera narrates the treachery episode: “Captain Caceres ordered a soldier to be on a horse, so close as to have good aim with the musket, and to speak to him, admonishing him to admit the friendship being offered, and that another soldier on the rump of a horse would shot him with the musket. With these instructions the soldier talked to him and said his advice and persuasions, and the chief replied that ‘The war is not going to tire the soldiers nor frighten them, and that the one who can the most will overcome’ and saying other arrogant words, of more than an Indian, the soldier on the rump pointed at him when he saw the opportunity, and struck him in the forehead, even when he wore a very gallant and crested shako.”

Tradition says that Lempira fell at the site of Piedra Parada, near the Congolon Peak, although there is another place known as Piedra Parada close to Erandique, but field investigations lead to think the Indian hero died at Cerquin Rock.

The Honduran historian Mario Felipe Martinez has cast doubts on Antonio de Herrera’s version of Lempira’s death, after discovering in the General Archive of the Indies a certificate presented in 1558 before the Spanish authorities in Mexico by the soldier Rodrigo Ruiz.

The document is very important, because it confirms the real existence of Lempira —of whom some Hondurans of low patriotic fiber consider to be a legend— the name of the chief (referred to as El Empira), the description of the war and its stage.

The purpose of the soldier Rodrigo Ruiz in writing this certificate was to impress the Spanish authorities in order to obtain a pension for the last years of his life. There Rodrigo proudly tells the tale of his one-to-one battle with Lempira, armed only with his sword and shield, carrying his head as a trophy and receiving in his way out many injuries by the Indians, injuries that almost killed him.

Although Rodrigo supports his statement with the report of several witnesses —some supposedly were present- you can not trust the testimony of some friends of war ready to help his friend in a deed of twenty years ago.

For his part, Bishop Cristobal de Pedraza, who was noted for his defense of the Indians- in a date as fresh as the May 18, 1539 reports from Gracias to the King and Queen of Spain that in order to beat Lempira ‘some industry’ was necessary, ie, not a one-to-one combat, as Ruiz says.

Source: Evolución Histórica de Honduras. Longino Becerra. (2009) Editorial Baktún.

Sep 24

Roatan, Morat and Barbareta

By: Jesus Aguilar Paz

These three islands correspond to the Honduran Archipelago, which is in the Bay Islands province, formerly known as Guanajos.

The names of these three islands, according to legend, are not of indigenous or Spanish origin, but of English one. (Although Guanajos is indeed of indigenous origin). This is explained by the encroachment made by England in time of the wars of Spain. We know so well that some nations owe their greatness to these Americas, which through Spain, sent their cold hard cash through the purchase of goods the Mother Country did not produce, due to the lack of foresight of her rulers and also due to detestable piracy.

But we are investigating the origin of the mentioned names, so lets proceed.

The first pirates who seized the main island, after removing the colonial guards, were welcomed by some animals worthy of these usurpers, by rodents: rats. Impressed by this event the pirates exclaimed: Rat-land!, whence came the name of Roatan.

Of course, they soon did not fit on this island, and according to the piratical custom of that nation, of occupying the entire land, they soon headed North for the following small island. There appeared again to welcome them several flocks of rats, so the hardened adventurers, frightened, cried: More-rats!, so the island was christened with this name, i.e., Morat.

Not satisfied, as we have stated, said Adventurers wanted to occupy more land, so the Englishmen pirates went to take the next island, which was Barbareta.

Here the previous rule did not fail, and the pirates’ congeners, the rodents, came out ready to receive them, but in huge quantity. The pirates, who were once painted so justly by his own countryman, dean Jonathan Swift, in his Gulliver’s Travels, amazed by such plague, cried out: Barbar-rats!, i.e., lot of rats, which was the name of said island: Barbareta.

Tired of seeing so many mice, these pirates discontinued their usurper raid, but not because their dominant megalomania was cured, as evidenced by history, for they needed to be removed from the islands by cannon shots, according to Mariscal Matias de Galvez.

As it is widely known, they felt the urge to take again these islands indisputably owned by Honduras, but this last time General Guardiola was the one who pulled them out … by hat blows!

Taken from the book “Canasta Folklórica Hondureña”, by Eduardo Sandoval. JES Ediciones.

Sep 11

The Honduran’s Prayer

By: Froylan Turcios

God bless the bountiful land of my birth!

Let the sun and the rain fertilize her arable fields; her industries flourish and all her wealth shine under her magnificent sapphire sky.

My heart and my thoughts in one mind will exalt her name, in a constant effort for her culture.

Number in action in the conquest of her highest values, permanent factor of peace and work, I will join her energies; and at home, in society or in public affairs, in any aspect of my destiny, I always have present this inescapable obligation to contribute to the glory of Honduras.

I will flee from alcohol and gambling, and from anything that could lower my personality, in order to deserve the honor to be included among her best children.

I will respect her eternal symbols and the memory of her heroes, admiring her great men and all those who excel exalting her.

And I will never forget that my first duty will be, at any time, to defend with courage her sovereignty, her territorial integrity, her dignity as an independent nation, and I will rather die a thousand times than to see desecrated her land, her shield broken, and her shiny flag defeated.

God bless the bountiful land of my birth!

Free and civilized, let her power increase in the times and her name shine in the extensive conquests of justice and law.

Translated from the Spanish-language original: Oración del Hondureño.

Sep 10

Celebration of Children’s Day in Honduras

On 10 September is Children’s Day in Honduras.

The children go to school, not to classes, but just to be celebrated with music, candy and games.

Breaking the piñata is a popular game in this day.

Some parents also buy toys for their children, so the Children’s Day in Honduras is like a second Christmas for them.

Private and public partnerships also celebrate children in this special day.