This blog reflects my personal views and not the views of the Peace Corps. This is for the cross-cultural enjoyment of my friends and family.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ignorance is Nervousness

So, none of this has made it into the American news, which I find interesting, although I might be a little paranoid.

The current President of Honduras Mel Zelaya, doesn't exactly want to leave office. He has started a big campaign for "La Cuarta Urna" the Fourth Box. The Fourth Box (depending on who you ask) would do numerous (unspecified things), namely completely reform the constitution, and more specifically for the purpose of creating unlimited terms for the President. Hmmm...

Now, after having asked several people what the Cuarta Urna is, the above explanation is what I've come up with. All I know is this:

I've been watching rallies for the Cuarta Urna on T.V., and Mel is out there in his sombrero, wearing his "campo/country" gear, talking about how we have to help the poor and the poor is so oppressed in Honduras. Ring a bell?

Granted, what he's saying is the truth, but by all accounts from more reliable sources, he was a shoddy President and didn't do much for the poor when he had a chance. So, now Mel Zelaya (who might I add is quite fond of Hugo Chavez) wants another go, and is using the time-tested method of appealing to the poor and wanting to achieve his goals. Bueno.

Well last night, I come home from those blasted English classes (we played games, I lost control) to find my family watching the news. Now, they are avid news watchers (and supporters of the Cuarta Urna), but this is prime-time telenovela time! Paloma (character) has probably just found out that her boyfriend has impregnated yet another woman!

I digress ... This must be something good if they're forgoing telenovelas for the news. I couldn't understand much, but people were all hot and bothered outside the Presidential Casa, and I kept hearing things about the armed forces and "golpe de estado." Now, "golpe de estado" isn't quite a coup de etat, but it roughly translates to "hit to the state." Armed forces + hit to the state = slightly nervous Hannah. Why isn't my language better?!

I mean, I enjoy politics and have severely missed D.C. for this reason. Also, international politics gets me going even more, and not being able to understand the situation was upsetting. I started calling people.

My friend was also paying attention to the news, and had gathered that someone from the armed forces had resigned, and I added in my knowledge that Mel was now the Commander of the Armed Forces.

There was a much longer conversation behind this. Talking about how we wish we knew what was going on, but what we thought was going on was reminiscent of other times in Latin American politics, and we were nervous as to our futures in Honduras if the political climate were to take a turn for the worse.

Mel has some socialist tendencies and this business with the Armed Forces/golpe de estado was a bit peculiar, and I might add a little sudden.

Also, this vote for the changing of the constitution is on Sunday, and Peace Corps issued a mandate that all Volunteers are on Standfast, which means we are not allowed to leave our sites in anticipation that there might be some heightened political activity over the weekend.

Well, I hopped on my wireless this morning and discovered the truth as to what happened yesterday evening:

Mel Zelaya sacked the commander of the armed forces for not agreeing with his Cuarta Urna idea (not a good sign). The Congress and Supreme Court (equivalents) have declared the Cuarta Urna illegal, and the commander said that he couldn't support something that was deemed illegal. THEN!, in solidarity, the heads of the navy and air force resigned. How lovely! Now Mel has full control of the armed forces in Honduras, is continuing with the vote Sunday despite the fact it is illegal, and doesn't seem to give a darn at all. Neither do the Hondurans. Meanwhile, the PCVs I have talked to are kind of like, "Ummm guys ... history, Latin America..." We're being overly dramatic. In all the political turmoil that went down around Honduras, they have always been stable in comparison. It's just funny to see how the different cultures approach the situation.

Even my host brother acknowledged this as we sit there in the dark watching the news, me clutching my dictionary, and he turns to me and says, "Gringos don't like golpes de estados, do they?" And in my sarcasm that has yet to translate, I reply, "Ummm...NO!" They loved it. They thought it was great that Mel is following through with his "pledge to the poor" and not let people stop the Cuarta Urna. Aye dios mio.

It's kind of cool what's happening in that I'm actually living in a political climate that could become pretty volatile (if things go really poorly), but at the same time I don't want to leave! Peace Corps will pull us out if need be, and I don't want to go!

Anyways, that's my ramble from down here. I've kind of got that nervous, something is happening emotion about me today. PS I just wrote this and didn't revise it, therefore forgive all grammar/spelling mistakes porfa!



  1. Hi Hannah;

    Thought you would like to see what the N.Y.Times had to say today (6/26) about the situation in Honduras. The news today is all about Michael Jackson and Farah Faucett's passing. So it goes.

    Joe Maina

    Honduras: Term Limit Dispute Deepens


    The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected President Manuel Zelaya’s dismissal of
    the country’s senior military officer, deepening a constitutional confrontation
    over Mr. Zelaya’s effort to lift the limit of a single four-year term for
    presidents. Mr. Zelaya vowed to push ahead with an unofficial vote scheduled for
    Sunday to measure public support for lifting term limits. At a rally in
    Tegucigalpa, the capital, he told supporters that the court’s decision amounted
    to a coup. He said Wednesday that he had fired the officer, Gen. Romeo Vásquez,
    after the military refused to help conduct the vote.

  2. Hannah,

    As the previous PC Picasso for Central America prior to David Fleisig)and a person with over a dozen total years working in Honduras; I first read your very incisive account of the current Catracho situation last Friday. Despite your professed lack of Spanish fluency, you evidently have a rare and uncanny knack for both writting and political analysis, as you certainly hit the nail squarely on the head in your interesting and well written situation report summary. Even though you have another year remaining as a PCV in Honduras, you have great potential and you should actively consider taking the Foreign Service Officer exam in October at the Embassy in Tegus. You can register online at and even purchase a study guide for under $20. If you prefer working solely in developing countries like Honduras, you should also apply for a career with USAID. Also, despite the abrupt happenings on Sunday, I'm quite confidant that you will be able to complete your current tour with no delays or other interruptions. Once again, your writing skills are world class, so please do apply for the Foreign Service.


    Bob Hopkins
    Deputy Regional Director
    DOS Office of Foreign Missions, Houston