Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Word of the Day Wednesday


(say ah-tAH-hoe)

atajo = short cut


*as we pull off of the highway onto the sidewalk and down a dirt road, I see bums and buzzards gathered around the banks of a dirty river. and obviously start to panic. my taxi driver sees my face in the rearview mirror and he says, "Don't worry, Hannah, it's just an atajo to your school."

and fyi, it obviously (hellloo, I'm alive and writing to tell about it!) was a short cut and it saved us about 20 minutes in traffic. he's the greatest!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Dear Lord, help us f@$%-us"

Like I said, my new job is in a bilingual school targeted towards lower income families. Monthly tuition is probably less than you spend in gas each month. Therefore, the teachers aren't held up to quite the same standard as say, the American School.

And so I get to correct English grammar and pronunciation all day. And. I. LOVE. it.

I am a stickler for poor grammar...and bad vocabulary. And when speaking to people that speak English as a second language, I've always wanted to interrupt and be like, "oops, you mean you taught it, not you teached it." Or, "hey lady? I think you mean, excuse me miss."

Well, now it's my job to do that. !!

My favorite correction so far has been the mispronunciation of the word "focus."

"Meees," yes, all of the employees call me Ms. but pronounced Meeees, "how do you say this word?" *shows me a piece of paper with the word focus*

"How do you think you say it?" I asked.

"My English professor in the university says you say it like this - f#$%-us." (okay, hint, it rhymes with duckus)

I tried to hide the horror on my face. (helllloooo, this is a Christian school!) "No, it's definitely fOH-cuhs."

And so last Friday I did a pronunciation workshop and spent two hours going over the pronunciation of the 40+ English sounds. Like the difference between in the /th/ sound in thy and thigh. No, not die and die....which is what they kept repeating to me. Or the difference between the /i/ and the /I/ in heat and hit. Which, in case you were wondering, is not heet and heet.

:) This is so. much. fun.

Monday, August 24, 2009

reason # 1 why I love my new job

Last week, I attended one of my first staff meetings. Violeta, the owner of the school, came to the meeting and told us a story about Douglas (a teacher in the school). He is an excellent teacher and employee. And he has been dating a girl for several years. They want to get married...but they can't afford it. Sure, they could go down to the alcaldia and have a judge sign the papers, but Douglas told Violeta that every little girl grows up wanting a real wedding with a white dress, and he doesn't want his girlfriend to get married at the alcaldia because she deserves her dream wedding.

"I think we should give him a surprise wedding. Do you want to help?" she asked.

I glanced around the room, and the response was overwhelming. Everyone was raising their hands.

"We could decorate the courtyard of the school and have it here!"

"My grandmother makes really good food, she can cater it."

"I make really pretty flower arrangements, I can do that!"

"I can play the piano!"

"To pay for the supplies," Violeta explained, "we all need to chip in a little bit of money. How much can you each give?"

Keep in mind that this is a school targeted to lower income families. Most teachers there make the minimum salary of L. 5,500 (about $290/month).

I was expecting everyone to say 50 lempiras, or less. To my surprise, everyone, all 25 of them, started shouting "L. 100! L. 200! No, that's not enough, let's give L. 300 each!"

As soon as the meeting was over, I walked outside to call my husband. I told him the story with tears streaming down my face. "I can't believe we are actually stressed that we can't buy a second car. That we can't buy a house. That we can't travel back and forth to the US whenever we want. And here is this nice couple...They are not asking for a house, or a car, or money. They are asking for a simple wedding. A marriage! And my coworkers are offering up significant portions of their paychecks to throw a wedding for them! We are so blessed, Jose. And we should be more thankful for what we DO have instead of complaining about what we don't. Because we have a good marriage, and we have each other."

English skills and US degree or not...I am getting so much more out of this job than I'm putting in.

Thank you to my new friends for showing me that there are good and decent people in Honduras. :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

what's happening in Honduras?

I've been getting this question a lot because of the current political crisis. So here goes...

Things in Tegucigalpa (I can't speak for the rest of Honduras) have been mostly normal.
The city is covered in mostly pro Mel graffiti like "fuera golpistas" (get out coupsters) and "urge Mel" (hurry, Mel). (I've also started seeing anti Mel graffiti that says "Mel Narco Ladron" (Mel drug dealing thief).)
There are a lot of protests, but they are mostly peaceful. Sometimes they break windows at the fast food restaurants that are owned by a so-called golpista company. And they always spray paint walls/houses/buildings, etc, etc.
And then there was the exceptionally violent protest last week, where the Zelayistas burned a bus and a Popeye's restaurant. You can see a video of all of that here.
But, like I said, things have been mostly normal....for Honduras. And then today, out of nowhere, there were TWO marches in front of my store. One was around noon, with walking protestors.
The other was around 4:45, and lasted for hours. It was car after car after car full of protestors (and you can't help but laugh when you see all of these latinos fulfilling the stereotype with cars of 10-15 people piled in...haha). They were all laying on their horns and being incredibly annoying.
I saw one guy get out of a vehicle and spray paint the wall of a business across the street.
he is writing "fuera golpista"
At one point, the people in the backs of the trucks turned their yelling towards me, and for the first time since I've been back from the US, I was really scared of them! They saw me, obviously gringa, taking videos with my cell phone from the balcony, and started yelling "golpista, fuera golpista!" I ran inside my store and hid for the rest of the protest. ;)
And I just keep asking myself.... what's the point of all this? All they are doing is creating nuisance and chaos. Is driving through the city in a line of hundreds of cars going to convince the opposition to change their minds? No. I'm pretty sure it's just going to piss them off.

Word of the Day Wednesday

(say mAHl cree AH doh or mAHl cree AH dah)

Malcriado = bad-mannered/rude

Example (a real conversation that I had with my taxi driver yesterday):

taxi driver - That's a nice place. How much do you pay in rent?
me - You shouldn't ask that question. It's malcriado!
taxi driver - You're right, I'm sorry.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Word of the Day Wednesday (on Thursday) ;)


(say fOOOt-bohl-leest-eek-a-mehn-teh)

I learned this new word last night while watching the Costa Rica vs. Honduras soccer game (which Honduras won 4-0, btw). I was intrigued by this word when I heard the announcer use it, because I couldn't think of an English equivalent.

After consulting my go-to online translator, and studying up on my grammar, again...I finally discovered that I was right....there is no exact translation. So, let's break it down...


-the first part of the word is obvious, because futbol is Spanish for soccer
-ística is an adjective that basically means "in relation to"
-and finally, mente, which is basically like adding an ly in English (creating an adverb)

So, finally, we have a sort of definition (forgive me if I'm completely butchering this word, and if you know of a better definition, please share it!)...

Futbolísticamente is sort of like saying "in relation to soccer."


Honduras es mejor, futbolísticamente.
Honduras is better, in relation to soccer.

Geez what a long Word of the Day Wednesday, haha. Only the language of a soccer-crazed culture would have a word like this...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What Book Got You Hooked?

I have always loved to read.

And so I got a little nostalgic when I came across this website: What Book Got You Hooked? "'What Book Got You Hooked?' invites readers everywhere to celebrate unforgettable books from childhood and help provide new books to the children who need them most. First Book asks visitors to share the memory of the books that made them readers and then vote for the state to receive 50,000 new books from First Book, helping to get more kids hooked on reading."

The book that got me hooked was Matilda by Roald Dahl. I read it for the first time probably close to 20 years ago. It was one of the first chapter books I ever read. And I really don't remember WHY it got me hooked, but I remember it being the first book that I was just not able to put down.

Over the years I've found a lot more books that I just couldn't put down... from the "Face on the Milk Carton" books and the "Babysitter's Club" in elementary school; to practically all of Oprah's Book Club books through high school and college; and today, to the Twilight Saga (of which I am currently obsessed).

What was the book that got YOU hooked on reading? Click the link, share the memory of the first book that made reading fun for you and then help get more kids hooked: vote for the state to receive 50,000 new books for children in need. If you don't have a state to cast your vote towards, choose my home state of KENTUCKY. :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

i know an old lady who swallowed a fly....

On Sunday morning, I was greeted downstairs by the buzz of flies. There were about 30 on the windows. Since we have screens on the windows, I figured that Jose left a door open too long or something on Saturday. I spent the morning on a killing rampage...sucking them up in my handy vacuum cleaner.

Monday morning, there were a few stragglers, but I killed those too.

But last night, when I got home from work, there were about 25 more!

I spent about an hour looking like a crazy person running around killing them all with my make shift fly-swatter -- a dish towel. Even Charlie looked at me funny and ran upstairs to hide during my killing spree.

I was perplexed. Where were they coming from? We have screens, the doors stay there's really no way for them to enter through any of the windows or doors. I keep everything clean and sanitized, and the trash is kept in a container with a tight lid (...due to my phobia of the cockroaches, remember?)

So of course, I googled it.

I didn't find anything that helped me understand where they were coming from or why there were so many. I just found info that made me hate them even more...

Did you know that flies "spit out saliva on solid foods to predigest it, and then suck it back in?" *cringe* And "because of their high intake of food, they deposit feces constantly, one of the factors that makes the insect a dangerous carrier of pathogens?" *gag*

I have now developed a phobia-like need to kill all flies that cross my path.

Please, please, pleeeasse....someone tell me where they are coming from and how to keep them away!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

La Buena Suerte

My mom says I'm the luckiest person she knows. Once, I walked into Target and walked out an hour later carrying the GRAND PRIZE from a contest they were having... a HUGE toy chest full of toys, valued at $1,000. And since I turned 16 and could legally work in the US, I've always stumbled across the most random, and awesome, job opportunities.

But last week when I met the owner of a small bilingual school here in Tegucigalpa, I didn't think anything of it. A job was the furthest thing from my mind. Anyway, we randomly met, and she and I started talking. It was an interesting conversation, considering the fact that she didn't speak any English. She asked about my degree...B.A. in corporate and organizational communication. She didn't understand it, because here in Honduras, communication is synonymous with journalism. After I explained it, to the best of my abilities in Spanish, she asked a strange question... "What could you do with that degree for my school?"

Hmmm... now why would someone ask a question like that? "Well," I answered, "I guess it would qualify me to teach some sort of business class or public speaking or something like that."

"No," she pushed, "what could you do for my school, as a business?"

I answered her question, and she immediately offered me a job.

Whaaat?? "But I'm not looking for a job. I own my own business."

"What do I need to pay you for you to come work for me?" she asked.

I panicked, and said the first number that came to my mind. I was sure it was too much. I kind of hoped it was...I had my own business to run! I couldn't take a job somewhere else!

To my surprise, she immediately agreed, and I kicked myself for not asking for more. ;)

So, today at 12:30, I will start my first day at the school. I have no experience working in administration in any type of school. The owner does not speak English. I have no idea what I'm going to be doing. Only my hours, and my salary. And the fact that she's going to work around my hours so I can still run my own business.

Is this luck, or am I crazy?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Word of the Day Wednesday

(say gohl-pEEs-tah)

Golpista = Pro-coup d'etat

A golpista is a person that is in favor of, or took part in, a coup d'etat. The word comes from the Spanish translation of coup d'etat, which is golpe de estado.

Another great article...

My fellow expat blogger Debi reposted this article, written by Janine Goben, on her blog today. It's an excellent explanation of why the article that I reposted on Monday, by Dr. Jack Wheeler, is NOT golpista propaganda.

Honduras: When is a coup not a coup?
Coup versus Coup D’Etat
by Janine Goben

A few weeks ago there was a constitutional change of power in Honduras; not usually an event which would cause the world to get involved in the internal government of a country, especially a country enjoying the freedom of an effective democracy.


During the early morning of June 28th, 2009, an event occurred in the small Central American country of Honduras which will become a defining time in Honduras’ history; indeed, it will become a defining moment in the definition of democracy. And because of the immediate reaction of the United States of America, it will become a defining point in time for the world to judge how the United States becomes involved in the government of other countries.

As the sun started to rise on Sunday, June 28th, 2009, a military corps, acting under direction of the Supreme Court of Honduras and the entire Congress of Honduras, entered the Presidential Palace in the capital city of Tegucigalpa and removed the President of Honduras, taking him by plane to Costa Rica, where he was discharged.

The news media and the U.S. state department immediately jumped on the following equation:Head of state + Central America + military removal from power = coup d’état.

Armed with only these facts, most people would make the same leap to judgment….. Unless they had the rest of the information and some understanding of the Honduran constitution, or unless they came to Honduras today and see that life is continuing the same as it was prior to these events; there are no tanks rolling down the streets, no curtailed rights or liberties.

The international press would have you believe that Honduras is in disarray. Nothing could be further from the truth. A constitutional change of government occurred, without violence; and this constitutional change has brought the people of Honduras together in defense of their constitution and their freedoms. Hondurans and foreigners, both sides of the political spectrum, stand solidly together to support HONDURAS. Tens of thousands of people have staged rallies throughout the country in support of the actions taken against the ex-president. The only violence that has occurred is when Zelaya tried to return to the country, creating a media frenzy as he asked his very few supporters to disrupt the country.

I will give you the rest of the story from the viewpoint of an American citizen living happily and peacefully in Honduras for a dozen years, and also with a chronology from a Honduran businessman, who can speak to the actions first hand.

Let’s start three years ago; Mel Zelaya, candidate for one of the two main political parties, was elected President by a small majority. A rich rancher, Zelaya courted the poorer people of the country, making grand appearances by riding in on his horse, Café, wearing his trademark cowboy hat. His political objectives started to drift to the left fairly quickly and he publicly and frequently created photo shoots with political allies Hugo Chavez and the Castro Brothers.


Zelaya started making decisions which appeared to be detrimental to the stability of the country, such as overruling local law enforcement by demanding the release of people arrested for destroying government offices and burning records.

On one occasion earlier this year, he flew into the island of Roatan, on a whim, to encourage a group of protestors who were objecting to the electric company and who had managed to block the only main road on the island, effectively shutting down the island and creating havoc with the tourism industry for a week. Cruise ships detoured to other destinations and international flights were affected; people couldn’t work. Zelaya appeared in front of the crowd, encouraging them to create civil unrest. Several of the leaders had been arrested and Zelaya commanded the police and District Attorney to release them.

This was the first time most of us on the island were exposed to the courage of the Honduran people – the local officials, who are mostly members of Zelaya’s political party, resisted the order and managed to hold most of the detainees for several days. This event was probably a significant turning point in the support Zelaya enjoyed as a democratically elected President.

There is a long time relationship between Honduras and the United States; over 100 U.S. businesses operate within the country, providing thousands of jobs for Hondurans. Tourism is also a major source of employment and economic stability. There is a large military base, Soto Cano, in the center of Honduras close to the town of Comayagua, with a comfortable blend of Honduran and American troops whose mission is primarily humanitarian and to exert some control of drug trafficking throughout Central America.

Honduras is also a highly desirable country for foreigners to live in and own property; there are thousands of us living throughout the country, especially in the Bay Islands, a stunningly beautiful destination in the Western Caribbean. Life is relaxed and relatively inexpensive; the Honduran people are peaceful, friendly and welcoming. They are also fiercely proud of their country and their CONSTITUTION.

For the past twenty-plus years, Honduras has enjoyed the freedoms associated with a stable democracy and the comfort of friendship and aid from the U.S and many other countries worldwide. The second poorest country in the region, international aid is crucial for the people of Honduras. In the last decade, huge improvements in infrastructure and quality of life are evident. Humanitarian groups come in droves to provide medical, dental, spiritual and physical care. Homes are built by volunteers, trades are taught, education is boosted and children are cared for. No-one wants to lose any of this, so when Zelaya started toward a carefully chartered path to align himself with leftist leaders, people started to take notice. Rumors about missing money and illegal activities at the highest level were reported.

The democratic republic of Honduras has a similar governmental structure to the United States, with three executive branches. The following is an accurate chronology of the events which led up to the removal of Mel Zelaya from the Presidential palace, written by a Honduran businessman who lives in Tegucigalpa, and is re-printed with his permission:

The Chain of Events in the Honduras Crisis March 23, 2009: President Zelaya passes an Executive Decree ordering a National Survey asking citizens if they would approve a Constitutional Assembly that would write and approve a new constitution. The Decree stated that the National Institute of Statistics (INE) would carry the survey out. However, he did not publish the decree in Honduras’ official newspaper called La Gaceta as required by law. This decree violated the following articles in the Constitution:

• Article 255 for not having published the decree in the Gaceta.
• Article 5 which states that only Congress (with a majority vote of 2/3) can define a National Survey and NOT the Executive branch.
• Article 5 which states that only the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) can conduct/execute a National Survey and NOT the National Statistics Institute (INE).
• His actions implied intent to violate Article 374, a “Petreos” Article, which states that only five articles in the entire constitution (with a total of 378 articles) cannot be amended or reformed. Two of those five articles refer to the duration of the presidential period (Art. 237) and the prohibition of presidential reelection (Art. 4).

By May 27, 2009: The National Prosecutor, the Attorney General and the Supreme Court had unanimously ruled the National Survey decree as illegal and it was ANULLED.

June 5, 2009: President Zelaya’s lawyer appeals the ruling.

June 16, 2009: The Appeal Court unanimously confirms that the National Survey decree is indeed illegal and therefore ANULLED. The State Prosecutor’s Office (Ministerio Publico) informs the Armed Forces that the National Survey is illegal and therefore, the Armed Forces must not carry out its constitutionally-assigned responsibility to act as guardians of the Public Survey ballots. The Armed Forces apply Article 323 that states that no public official, whether civil or military, can be forced to comply with an illegal order and thus refuse to carry out President Zelaya’s order to safeguard the ballots and election/survey. That same day, the State Prosecutor’s Office also advises President Zelaya and his entire cabinet of the Appeals Court ruling against the decree.

June 19, 2009: The State Prosecutor’s Office formally advises President Zelaya, a second time, that the National Survey is illegal.

June 25th, 2009: Only three days before his announced and illegal survey, President Zelaya issues a second presidential decree again calling for a National Survey. But this time, he goes all the way and publishes it in the Gaceta. However, he makes changes to the wording in the decree. Instead of ordering “a Public Opinion Survey,” as he had worded the previous decree, he now changes the words to read, “Public Opinion Survey Convening a Constitutional Assembly.” This changes the legal interpretation of this decree entirely, and would’ve allowed for an immediate Constitutional Assembly to convene and disintegrate the three powers defined in the Constitution, effectively interrupting Constitutional Order.


With the publishing of this decree in the Gaceta, President Zelaya himself kicks into motion Article 239 which states that “whomever changes or attempts to change” Article 4 (an unchangeable “petreos” article protected by Article 374) relating to the alterability of the presidential position, “will be immediately removed from public office” and lose his/her constitutional powers.

NOTE: This is very important! As soon as the decree was published, President Zelaya automatically stopped being president and became a regular citizen.

June 26, 2009: The Courts, along with the Attorney General and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, order the Armed Forces to confiscate all National Survey ballots and voting material that had just arrived by plane.

That same day, in blatant disregard to all court rulings, Citizen Manuel Zelaya gathers a group of protesters and proceeds to the Air Force warehouse where the ballots had been impounded. He threatens with force, and uses human shields, risking other citizens’ lives.

Calling on Article 59, which states that the protection of “human life is the Constitution and the state’s supreme responsibility/obligation,” the Armed Forces yield to the mob and allow Citizen Zelaya and his human shields to take the ballots by force.

Immediately, the Supreme Court issues an arrest warrant for Citizen Manuel Zelaya for the crimes of (a) Attempts against the form of government, (b) Treason to the country, (c) Abuse of authority, and (d) Usurpation of functions belonging to other branches of government.

The Supreme Court orders the Armed Forces to serve this arrest warrant because according to Article 272, the Armed Forces has the constitutionally-assigned responsibility to maintain and protect the alterability of the presidential office.

June 27, 2009: Country leaders meet intermittently throughout the day in an effort to find an alternate means of resolving the situation without recurring to an arrest that would incite unrest and possible violence within certain segments of the population. In the meantime, the Armed Forces study Citizen Zelaya’s agenda in order to determine the best moment to execute the arrest with the least risk to the lives of Citizen Zelaya and the Presidential Guards surrounding him.

June 28, 2009: Having found no better time for the arrest, at 5:45AM, the Armed Forces capture Citizen Zelaya in his home. The arrest is successful without any injuries or deaths on both sides. Citizen Zelaya is instructed to get dressed, but wanting to be victimized, he refuses, only grabbing his passport and wallet (with the presidential palace’s credit card, by the way).

The Armed Forces decide to put Citizen Zelaya on the presidential plane and take him to Costa Rica where he is left behind. The Armed Forces and whoever else decided to expatriate Citizen Zelaya violated Article 102 which states that “no Honduran can be expatriated or surrendered to a foreign government.” The Armed Forces is defending its decision by arguing that they again relied on Article 59 (protection of human life as supreme obligation of the state). They said that, in this case, breaking the law (art. 102) actually saved lives since they felt that placing Citizen Zelaya in a Honduran prison would’ve incited violence, unrest, and possible harm to Citizen Zelaya himself. Nonetheless, the State Prosecutor’s Office has started an investigation into this crime.

Per Article 242, when the President is absent and when the Vice President is absent (or resigned in Honduras’ case), the third instance is the President of Congress. Thus, the President of Congress, Roberto Micheletti, became President of Honduras.

I have but one question that I would like to ask the international community that is so adamant about not recognizing our existing government and is so vociferous at demanding that Honduras reinstate our criminal ex-President Zelaya:

What part of our Constitution would you force us to change, amend or erase so that we can reinstate Manuel Zelaya as President of Honduras without breaking the law?

Ian Merriam Honduras Webster’s dictionary defines a coup d’état as “The sudden, forcible overthrow of a government.” A military coup d’état would be that forcible overthrow by the military with the military taking over the running the country. Clearly, neither of these definitions apply here – at no point were the military running the government because the order was issued by the Supreme Court and the next in line to the Presidency, Roberto Micheletti, was sworn in as President. Only one man lost his job….and the same political party is still in power.

Webster’s also defines the single word coup as “A sudden, brilliantly successful move”……much closer to accurate!

So, here is Honduras, a country with a strong, still in action democracy, and with the vast majority of its people supportive of the rule of law which demanded the removal of a leader who believed he was above the law; we are being condemned by international sentiment. When, in fact, Honduras has become the voice for democracy – almost unanimously, citizens are standing up to overwhelming odds to support their constitution – is there no better definition for democracy?

The Honduran people would rather give up the critical aid they receive in order to keep their democracy! Business is as usual here; transportation into and around the country is normal, regular seasonal discounts are available to tourists, cruise ships still visit and scuba divers enjoy some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world.


One man has disrupted the continuation of government, and continues to do so with his reckless (thank you, Hillary for recognizing it this time) actions on the Nicaraguan border.

And yet the country goes on with the business of living with almost no change, except that thousands of people have lost their means of making a living for their families because his continued showmanship. Thankfully, people throughout the world are slowly realizing that the immediate reaction was erroneous, based on media reports from networks without correspondents in Honduras?

Honduras should be held up as “The Little Country That Could” and its citizens praised for their willingness to protect what they hold most dear – their freedoms and their constitution. Who else has been willing to defend their country against the progress of communism in the face of overwhelming odds? We should be applauding their sacrifice and doing whatever we can to help instead of denouncing the country and cutting off its lifelines.

The U.S. State Department cautions against traveling to Honduras…do you have the same courage as the poor Honduran people? We’re here; living normal, happy lives…come and visit us…that is how you can help. Tourism and investment in Honduras is one way to give people back their livelihood, their self respect. Foreign governments interfering with the constitution of Honduras outrageous, and overblown, inaccurate reporting of the situation by an unknowledgeable media is deplorable.

I’ve never been so proud of the people of my adopted homeland; the courage and restraint shown throughout the country is admirable. To defend one’s constitution in a non-violent manner and to be successful in that endeavor is rare. Help support Honduran democracy – come and visit us, you won’t believe your eyes!

by Janine Goben
This article can be found in its original context here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Serenity Prayer

I think I've mentioned before that I have generalized anxiety disorder. It is a "disorder characterized by long-lasting anxiety that is not focused on any one object or situation...the cause is either not readily identified or perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable..." (from Wiki)

Mine began suddenly in 2003 after a triggering event (which maybe I'll tell you more about some day). I didn't realize what it was until 2004, when I finally went to see a doctor about it.

It is not, as you can imagine, a pleasant thing. But over the past few years, I've learned how to deal with it more effectively. And I've found that during its peaks, it helps to recite a mantra.

So when I was in college, living at 919 Nutwood, I wrote out my mantra on a piece of clover green marbleized paper, trimmed it with shimmering clover ribbon, and attached it to the wall over my bedroom door. Whenever my anxiety started to get the best of me, I looked up on my wall and recited my mantra. It didn't take me long to memorize it, but I kept it up on the wall anyway.

Two years later, I moved into 1402 Nutwood with my brother, and took the green paper with me. Even though it had started to fade, I couldn't bring myself to throw it in the trash. I affixed it over my new bedroom door, and it continued to bring me comfort over the next 2 years.

Last year when I came to Honduras, I left a lot of my things behind in my room at 1402 Nutwood. My brother was going to continue living there with his new wife, and so I decided to let them keep what they wanted and trash or sell the rest. They lived there up until my parents left for Costa Rica, they moved into my parents vacant house, and put 1402 Nutwood up for rent. They found renters shortly thereafter: the daughter of my brother's highschool youth minister and her friends.

While I was in the US the past few weeks, I decided to go by the house before the new renters moved in. I went into my old bedroom, still the overwhelmingly bright teal color. And still hanging over the door was my clover green paper, faded even more. I shut my eyes and read the words out loud. I felt the familiar peace and serenity wash over me.

I wanted to yank it down and bring it back to Honduras with me. But I decided to leave it there. A gift for the new eager college student that will be occupying my old space.

So why the monologue about a stupid green piece of paper? :)

I'm writing this so she knows the story behind the paper. And the story behind the words. And so hopefully, it will bring her as much peace and serenity that it brought to me over the past 5 years of my life.

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the strength to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Monday, August 3, 2009

The bravest country in the world

This is an incredibly long article by Dr. Jack Wheeler. It was published on his website. It is such a great summary of Honduras' history and a good reflection of my own views on the current political crisis in Honduras. I figure a lot of you only want the explanation of the current situation in Honduras, so I bolded/enlarged the first words of the paragraph where that part starts. :)

translation: Honduras, a small country, but with great dignity, has buried Chavismo

(see Wiki definition of Chavismo here)

by Dr. Jack Wheeler

Thursday, 23 July 2009

On July 30, 1502, on his fourth voyage to what he thought were newly-discovered lands in far eastern Asia, Christopher Columbus (1451-1506), reached an island which he called Guanaja, low-land.

Sailing due south, he soon came upon a massive coastline which he knew was no island. He also came upon a massive storm. Racing east in the deep waters along the coast, he reached a cape which provided him protection.

"Gracias a Dios!" he exclaimed. "Que hemos salido de estas honduras!" Thanks to God, we have escaped these treacherous depths.

On a beach of what his men now called Gracias a Dios Cape, he held a mass to commemorate his salvation, and in a solemn ceremony, claimed the territory and adjacent island for the Kingdom of Spain in the name of his sovereigns, Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castille.

Columbus' men named the land Honduras.Columbus found the only inhabitants of this land to be primitivos, primitive tribes such as the Lencas. Unbeknownst to him, a thousand years before a great civilization was here with its capital at Copán. Around 800 AD, however, it collapsed, and the great Mayan cities such as Copán, Tikal, and Chichen Itza abandoned to the jungle.

The Great Admiral sailed away, and 22 years later in 1524, the Spaniards came to stay in Honduras, led by one of Hernando Cortez's captains, Cristobal de Olid. Another Cortez captain, Pedro de Alvarado, did the same in the region between Honduras and Mexico, which he called Guatemala, Mayan for Land of Trees.

Alvarado attempted to continue south along the Pacific coast but was repulsed by Pipil Indians. After fervent prayers, he returned the next year, 1525, and succeeded in establishing a colony which he called El Salvador, The Savior, in thanks for his prayers being answered.

Meanwhile, other Spanish explorers had founded a colony far to the south which they called Panama, after the name of a large Guarani Indian village meaning both lots of fish and lots of butterflies.

In 1522, a Spanish explorer, Gil Gonzalez de Avila, ventured north of Panama into a land he called Costa Rica (Rich Coast) after meeting some Carib Indians wearing gold bands in their noses and ears.

He continued north to a land of large lakes, fertile valleys, and a native people whose ruler much impressed de Avila, King Nic-Atl-Nauac. De Avila rendered his name Nicarao, and combined it with "agua" for all the water and lakes to call the land Nicaragua.

Various captains from Mexico and Panama fought with each other for control over the entire region between them until the Spanish government, in 1543, declared it combined and subsumed in a new administrative/judicial district of New Spain called the Audencia of Guatemala. In 1609, it was given more formal autonomy as the Captain General of Guatemala.

Two hundred years later, thanks to the impact of the American and French Revolutions, and with Spain being conquered by Napoleon and ruled by his brother Joseph Bonaparte, an independence movement erupted in Mexico in 1810.

It was a bloody mess until the Treaty of Cordoba in 1821 granted full sovereignty to Mexico, which promptly annexed all of the Guatemala Captain General - except for Panama which annexed itself to Colombia to escape Mexico's clutches.

The bloody mess continued in Mexico however, resulting in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica joining together in 1823 as the United Provinces of Central America and seceded from Mexico. This just imported the bloody Mexican mess of civil chaos throughout the new country - so finally, from 1838 to 1841, all five provinces declared their independence from each other.

As they did, a group of British settlers who had been living along the Caribbean coast of Guatemala - a region called Belize after the Mayan belix, muddy water - since the mid-1600s declared themselves free as well and asked for British protection, which they got.

Subsequently, in 1862, England formally declared it a British Crown Colony, naming it British Honduras - even though it had no border with Honduras. It's been sovereign since 1981 as Belize. Here's Central America today:

From its independence in 1838 to 1981, Honduras was plagued by over 300 internal rebellions, civil wars, and violent changes of government. Cartoonishly corrupt and dominated by banana conglomerates like United Fruit, the place became the original "Banana Republic" - so named by famous writer O. Henry (William Sydney Porter, 1862-1910) in his book Cabbages and Kings after his stay in Honduras 1896-7.

One coup and military dictator followed another for much of the 20th century. The economy's deterioration was made worse by hordes of illegal immigrants from over-populated El Salvador. By 1969 there 300,000 such Salvadoran illegals in Honduras, with such hatred between the two countries that when riots broke out between fans of their national soccer teams, both countries declared war.

The Soccer War was vicious, brutal, and short, lasting seven days, July 14-20, 1969. The invading Salvadoran Army was repelled along with 130,000 Salvadoran illegals. Hondurans found they had a new sense of national pride and patriotism. Then there was another military coup, and another, and another.

But when the dictator in neighboring Nicaragua, Anastasio Somoza, was overthrown in 1979 by Communist guerrillas calling themselves Sandinistas and sponsored by Cuba and the Soviet Union, Hondurans decided it was time get politically mature.

This was accelerated when, in 1980, the Sandinistas and Cubans sponsored a Communist guerrilla movement to try and take over in El Salvador. The Hondurans were alone, with no hope or help from Jimmy Carter's America. They formed a truly democratic government with a new constitution and a professional army under civilian control.

In November, 1981, a medical doctor, Robert Suazo, was elected president. The first phone call of congratulations he got was from the new American president, Ronald Reagan. US aid began pouring in, economic and military.

A savage terrorist group sponsored by the Sandinistas was crushed. Suazo eagerly allowed military supplies to flow through across his border to the growing Contra liberation movement fighting the Communist Sandinistas in Nicaragua - as did his freely-elected successor Jose Azcona.

Since then, the two main political parties, Liberal and National, have traded power in free elections, while democratic institutions such as the Supreme Court have been strengthened. The Hondurans were justly proud of what they had achieved -- and had no suspicion that their success would be threatened when the son of a wealthy businessman, Manuel "Mel" Zelaya was elected president in November 2005.

He turned out to be an incompetent megalomaniac. As crime, corruption, and poverty rose, Zelaya increasingly blamed America for all his country's and the world's problems, while forging deepening friendships with Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro.

When the Communist Sandinista Daniel Ortega was elected president of Nicaragua - thanks to Ollie North (see Kafka in Managua: Ollie North Is Helping a Communist Win in Nicaragua 11/06) - he quickly became one of Mel's best buds.

When Hugo Chavez formed a "Bolivarian" alliance (ALBA) of rabidly anti-American pro-Communist rulers - Castro, Ortega, Bolivia's Evo Morales, Ecuador's Rafael Correa, and himself - Zelaya announced he wanted to join. That was the last straw. His popularity totally tanked, even among the elected members of the National Congress from his own party.

He responded with a plethora of attempts at police state control - such as monitoring of all cell phone conversations. Journalists who criticized him in the press were murdered or fled the country due to murder threats. With millions of dollars from Hugo Chavez, he paid hordes of young people to protest for him and beat up opponents.

The Honduran Constitution contains eight articles that cannot be amended, one of them being term-limiting the presidency. Article 239 states:No citizen who has already served as head of the Executive Branch can be President or Vice-President.

Whoever violates this law or proposes its reform, as well as those who support such violation directly or indirectly, will immediately cease in their functions and will be unable to hold any public office for a period of 10 years.Yet Zelaya began insisting earlier this year on holding a National Referendum to overturn this un-overturnable constitutional prohibition. The entire country saw this as a blatantly illegal attempt to become president-for-life, exactly as Hugo Chavez has done in Venezuela.

The ballots for the referendum were printed in and shipped from Venezuela. The Supreme Court declared the referendum constitutionally illegal and ordered the ballots destroyed. Zelaya led a mob of his Chavez-paid followers to physically seize the ballots, at which point the Supreme Court ordered Zelaya's arrest and removal from office as article 239 specifies.

The army followed the Supreme Court's order, but instead of jailing Zelaya, he was put on a plane to Costa Rica - in hindsight a big mistake. The National Congress voted to have its Speaker, Roberto Micheletti, to replace Zelaya as the constitution specifies as next in presidential succession.

Instead of being applauded for adhering to its democratic laws and avoiding their demise, much of the so-called Free World - the UN, the EU, and the US via the White House - joined with the Communist World led by Chavez and Castro to hysterically denounce Honduras instead.

This, folks, is a terrifying wake-up call as to the extent the forces of darkness are gaining strength, and the forces of freedom are cowering in retreat. All of sudden out of nowhere, little Honduras catalyzes this process and becomes a pivot point in the struggle between good and evil on earth.

Let's take a look at those who lead the forces of darkness arrayed against Honduras.

On June 30, two days after Zelaya's removal, the UN General Assembly passed by acclamation a resolution that condemned the removal of Mr. Zelaya as a "coup" and demanded his "immediate and unconditional restoration" as president.

The President of the UN General Assembly is a Sandinista Communist, Miguel D'Escoto, who was Danny Ortega's Foreign Minister in the 80s and won the Lenin Peace Prize from the Soviet Union in 1985. Under his leadership, the UN has become even more virulently suffused with a hatred of America.

On July 5, the Organization of American States (OAS) suspended Honduras from its membership, denounced the government of Roberto Micheletti, and demanded Zelaya be reinstated.

Since 2005, the president of the OAS is a left-wing Chilean politician, Jose Miguel Insulza. He has been bribed by Chavez to publicly denounce the Micheletti government as a "dictatorship" and endlessly threaten Honduras with "sanctions." Prior to this, Chavez was bribing him to crusade for the OAS to accept Cuba as a fully democratic member.

A radical Marxist Chilean academic, Arturo Valenzuela, is President Zero's nominee to be Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere. Valenzuela has a long history of defending corrupt Latin American regimes such as Mexico and Argentina, and of groveling support for Hugo Chavez.

After Valenzuela denounced Zelaya's removal as an "illegal coup" in his Senate testimony this week (7/20), then refused to discuss the Honduran situation in detail, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) placed a hold on his confirmation.

"Why is Washington on the same side as Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Cuba's Fidel Castro in the Honduran crisis?" asked DeMint. Valenzuela had no answer.

The Zero White House is so deep in bed with Chavez and Castro that it had Hillary Clinton interrupt her visit to India and telephone Honduran President Micheletti (7/20). In her official capacity as Secretary of State, she was rude, insulting, and abusive, threatening Micheletti with "serious consequences" if he didn't turn power back to Zelaya.

Micheletti stood his ground. "Under no circumstances will we accept these pressures," he informed Mrs. Clinton. "Under no circumstances will Mr. Zelaya be returned to power.

"The World Bank has suspended aid to Honduras, as has the EU. Zero has cut off military aid. Oscar Arias of Costa Rica is playing his role of gutless neutrality to the hilt, trying every conman ploy in the book to get Zelaya back in power. Ortega is sending hordes of Nicaraguan agents across the border to foment violent protest (while at the same time trying to get himself elected president-for-life straight out of the Chavez-Zelaya playbook).

All of this is an astounding demonstration of how pro-Communist and anti-freedom much of the world has become. It's not just Zero.

It's also a demonstration of how intimidated anti-Communist leaders have become. You would think that Colombia's Alvaro Uribe, Panama's Ricardo Martinelli, and Peru's Alan Garcia would be standing shoulder to shoulder with Roberto Micheletti in Tegucigalpa's Morazan Square.

Joining them in support would be all members of the Supreme Court, virtually all members of the National Congress, all major Honduran business leaders, and vast numbers of Hondurans who want freedom not Chavez-style dictatorship.

It would be an ideal moment to announce the formation of an anti-ALBA alliance of pro-freedom Latin countries between these leaders and invite Honduras to join.

But no. These three guys remain silent and sequestered in their presidential palaces in Bogota, Panama City, and Lima. The best even Uribe can muster - the guy who is defeating the FARC narco-communist guerrillas - is to secretly (or "informally" as he put it) meet with Honduran Foreign Minister Carlos Lopez in Bogota (7/20).

No diplomatic recognition, no flying to Tegucigalpa, just a whispered hint he, Uribe, might be "sympathetic" to Micheletti.Honduras is alone against the forces of darkness. That the President of the United States is one of those forces is more than acutely embarrassing - it is acutely dangerous to us, to freedom in the world, and to a brave little country that should be an inspiration to all.

As of this morning (7/23), Honduras is still standing firm, having rejected yet again Arias' latest "final offer."

(As a demonstration of what an utter idiot the Nobel Laureate is, Arias claimed Honduras has become the "North Korea or Albania" of Central America, showing his ignorance of all three. To compare Albania, a free democracy, with the Norks is obscenely stupid, and the Norks with Honduras simply immoral.)

You can pray for Honduras. You can call or email the office of Senator DeMint to thank him for supporting a Free Honduras. You can encourage your Congressman to do the same. And if you really, really want to demonstrate your own support, you might consider doing it in person.

Remember that island, Guanaja, discovered by Columbus? It's one of the Bay Islands where you'll find some of the best snorkeling and scuba-diving in the world.

There are the stunning ruins of Copán, cloud forests, nice hotels, and friendly people who will overwhelm you with gratitude for coming to them in their hour of peril. Getting there is a short flight and not pricey. Something to consider.

Honduras is at this moment in history the bravest country in the world. It deserves the support of all advocates of liberty.

by Dr. Jack Wheeler