Lately, Honduras has been appearing a lot in the headlines. The political situation has been tense and volatile. At lunch I sit with three friends in a beachside restaurant, the television is tuned to CNN (Español), and all heads are turned towards the scene unfolding. Mel Zelaya, the ousted President, is at the border of Nicaragua. We watch, pensive. The camera angle stays tight on Mr. Zelaya. Microphones and cameras jostle and supporters crowd in around him. He gesticulates grandly while speaking into his cell phone, and continues walking slowly forward until he reaches the border, where only a chain separates him from both his homeland and a wall of military personnel who have been given orders to arrest him upon his return. He crosses the chain, putting himself on Honduran soil for the first time in a month. The epic showdown unfolds, and we wait with nervous anticipation, but somehow a violent culmination is averted. He crosses back into Nicaragua, thanks his supporters and sits in his white Jeep, still glued to his cell phone. As I leave the restaurant and drive through downtown La Ceiba, I look out onto the busy scene: shoppers darting in and out of stores, pedestrians hailing taxis or waiting on buses. Street vendors are selling vegetables, fresh juice, churros and national soccer jerseys. Everything appears to be…well, normal.
In spite of the continued concern for the political situation in Honduras, for the majority, life continues as usual. This is not to say that the public is unaware of the situation, most seem to be keeping up with the news as it evolves, but the country is not in a state of total upheaval as it may appear from the dramatic news coverage. Rather, there is quieter truth going on behind the scenes. It is a story that is less likely to be told, but one that speaks to the enduring strength of the Honduran people.
When I ask Hondurans about the current situation and what will happen, the responses vary, but when asked how it affects their own lives, the majority tell me with a shrug: “Segimos en la lucha como siempre. We continue the good struggle, like always.”
Honduras is a country accustomed to interruptions. Every year they face the possible threat of hurricanes and experience tropical storms which result in floods, landslides, and washed out bridges. In 1998, the Honduras was hit by Hurricane Mitch which devoured the country, leaving it in devastation. In five of the 10 years since Mitch, Honduras has experienced other massive storms and subsequently severe flooding.
In May of this year Honduras experienced an unfamiliar kind of threat, as a 7.3 earthquake shook the country for nearly 45 seconds. Many people don’t recall having ever felt an earthquake previous to this event. However, in the weeks that followed, it seemed the ground hardly ceased to shake with 12+ earthquakes ranging from 4.3 to 5.7, and 500-700 additional tremors. Still, Honduras continued as it had before, albeit perhaps, with a heightened awareness and some new lessons learned.
Life in Honduras has never been easy. Political corruption, poverty and crime are hard realities that Hondurans face in their everyday lives. Perhaps it is for this reason that they have learned to forge ahead, despite conflicts. This strength of human spirit is appropriately in line with the Adelante Foundation’s mission. To “seguir adelante” means to “keep going forward” or “carry on.” This is what the people are doing; this is what they will continue to do. In times such as these, the country needs the support of organizations like Adelante Foundation more than ever, to empower individuals by providing the tools and opportunities necessary to continue with what they so much desire to do: continue moving forward.
By Desirae Wrathall