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Honduras — invisible country… (page 4)

K. Sapozhnikov (January 2008)
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I will admit that out of Russian hit songs most of all I like the one devoted to Honduras. It is still the Latin American subject! Tempo lines of the song - «Honduras! Honduras! Where is there your working class?» - couldn't but arouse concern. In fact, where is it? What is wrong with it? Does it fight for its inherent rights or demonstrates class inactivity?

Having come to Honduras I tried to find the reply to that question by looking first to the reports of National Institute of statistics1. It turned out that since 2004-2005 the situation with employment in the country is really desperate: out of all able-bodied citizens 46% are «idle» (1 million 240 thousand people) or are fully employed but paid less than minimum wage (there are about 1 million of such employees). According to the data of the same institute for 2004, 2 million and 600 thousand Hondurans (out of 7 million population of the country) live on the «income» less that one dollar a day! To this we can add that 4 million and 500 thousand Hondurans live below the poverty level — 70.5% of the total population! Permanent malnutrition, catastrophic lack of residence, absence of more or less established system of health care — all this is the routine of Honduras. Of course, certain representatives of working class are well established, say, somewhere in the ministries, in «service» of high-ranking officials. These workers that do not live for one dollar a day, have regular and high-calorie meals. Cheerful drivers of bossy cars, whom I met, belonged to that category (see photo).

Lack of employment in the country makes Hondurans leave the native places and go off — whether legally or illegally — in search of living to the successful Europe or, as often as not, to the United States where more than one million of catrachos and catrachas are working. So in reply to the question where the working class of Honduras is, one may boldly answer: mainly earn its living in the USA.

Plain Hondurans, who miraculously are surviving on their tiny wages, try to change the situation in the country to their favour. There are more and more organised actions with economic and political demands, they grow in number and perkiness. «Traditional» methods of neutralisation of peoples protests do not work. To protect their interests the ruling elite has to resort more often to seemingly obsolete argumentation of the «cold war» times.

The thesis on penetration to Honduras of «external subversive forces» are massively embedded in the consciousness of the citizens through right-conservative electronic and printed mass media. Most often for brain washing they use the «negative image» of the Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who embodies, from the point of view of neo-liberal propagandists, the quintessence of the «failed» ideology of the past. He is accused of marxism-leninism, castrism, guevarism, trotskism, peronism, etc., etc. But what is most scary for antagonists of Chavez is that this charismatic «leader of populist type» gives a «bad example to other (immature!) politicians on the continent.

President Zelaya, who won the elections at the end of 2005, reasonably tried to stay away from Chavez. However, more and more acute energy problems in the Honduran economy demanded from Zelaya urgent decisions. The unhidden price lawlessness by American companies that control the chain of petrol stations in the country has become the «Rubicon» situation. Zelaya resorted to an unprecedented step — he declared a temporary state control over the petrol depots of American companies. The situation was normalised, but after these events Zelaya decided to improve business contacts with Venezuela that pursues the policy of energy supplies in the region.

The first personal meeting of Chavez and Zelaya was held in Managua on July 19, 2007 during the celebrations of the 28th anniversary of victory of Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional (Sandinist National Liberation Front). Daniel Ortega, Hugo Chavez, Martin Torrijos and Manuel Zelaya ascended on the festive platform covered with red calico. The leaders of Nicaragua and Venezuela made ardent speeches where one could hear such words as socialism, revolution, fight with imperialism, patria o muerte and even – venceremos! Presidents of Panama and Honduras were much more discreet in their speeches, but they clapped their hands away to the emotional speeches of their «populist» colleagues.

President of Honduras Manuel Zelaya is at the left
The right wingers in Honduras perceived the behaviour of Zelaya in Managua as «extraordinary»: «Fraternization with the enemies of the USA under the shadow of the red flag!» Zelaya was immediately listed in the potential enemies of the USA as in the international politics one should strictly pursue the chosen course: either you walk together with the traditional ally USA or march after the «populists» and ultralefties like Chavez and Ortega2. Enemies of Zelaya, not without malicious joy, pointed that the Americans treated his trip to Managua with marked «disapproval». During the third visit of the president of Honduras to Washington, Zelaya was not received by J. Bush, though earlier he was always honoured to have an audience.

Especially loudly they started to speak about how American authorities toughened activities in catching and expelling illegal Honduran emigrants3. TV channels almost daily reported about arrival of next groups of the Hondurans expelled from the USA (200-300 people) and frightened that it could present threat to financial losses: annual amount of money orders of the Hondurans working in the USA in 2006 was close to 3 billion dollars.4

I can understand why from the stages of the Russian variety art you can hear the words of solidarity like - «Honduras, Honduras lives in hearts of each of us». International inertia solidly lives in us. But the Honduran singer will not sing anything like that. Official Honduras and commonplace Hondurans practically do not display any interest towards Russia and events in it. They have more than enough of their own problems.

That is why I was amazed by the rate of negative publications of the Honduran mass media about Russia. No matter how many times I repeated to myself «free yourself from preconception and prejudice», I had an opinion that Honduras continues to live in the atmosphere of the «cold war» though in more «sparse» if compared with the past. It is known that Honduran newspapers have not a single reporter on the Russian space, they cannot independently judge about the events in Russia, however the claims of the catracho media to the vanguard place in the «crusade» for democracy and freedom of the distant Russia are more than evident.

There is no doubt that this «war» is «nourished» by arguments and finances from the North American sources, and the Honduran mass media get the «half-finished product» for anti-Russian articles from the «specialised» centers, that use the wording and arguments of the «cold war» for weakening, compromise and defamation of the potential enemy. It is perfectly known — the empire is alert! It is sufficient to look through such publications with a red pencil to understand that their unmasking pathos is by far not of Honduras, but openly of empire nature — arrogant, adulterating facts, biased, creating pretexts for blackmail, sanctions and interference.

Here is one of such materials published in the paper «Heraldo» on August 26, 2007 in the column «Opinion». It turns out that Russia lives in the conditions of authoritarianism since Ivan the Terrible times, and now it is ruled by the KGB agents and «aparatchiks», ruthlessly suppressing everybody who resists. And as a result — you have triumph of lawlessness, total censorship, economic outrage, apotheosis of crime and freedom of actions only for «pistoleros». The article condemns the return of industrial objects of strategic importance under the state control, de-privatisation processes in oil and gas production spheres. Inadmissible is the use of energy resources as an effective means for strengthening of international influence of Russia. And the Russian nationalism, encouraged by the history books that were rewritten from the ideological tracing papers of the «regime»? And the finale: «For acceleration and development, democracy needs the minimum institutional base, at least such one as existed in Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic at the period of collapse of the Soviet empire. Due to this reason the democracy in these countries managed to outlive the disorder of transition period. And such base did not exist in Russia and many African and Latin American countries. When the freedom finally came, it turned into insolence and soon was shattered to pieces giving birth to the barbarism of dictatorship. Oh, poor Russia!» I will admit that after reading this and other articles of this kind I had the desire to delve into the «Honduran files» at the correspondent's office and use all the accumulated negative information on this country to give a reply in the genre «look who's talking!» and finish the article with sympathetic groan: «Oh, poor, poor Honduras»! But luckily I came to my senses in time. No, I don't want to be a «detonator» of the reciprocal «cold war» with Honduras. If they started it, let them unilaterally continue it, if it helps to relieve from domestic policy, social and other stresses...

And what is the situation with presence of Russians in such a «favoured» by them Honduras?

Tovarich Vodka
I did all my best to find, may it not be a commune, then at least a Russian trace in Honduras. Some hope for success was given to me by an advertising board «Vodka Tovarich» on the tower of the alcoholic beverage plant in the capital. Locals prefer rhum, aguaardiente, whiskey at last. Why not to assume that vodka «Tovarich» is made specially for its natural consumer — immigrants from Russia. I tried to confirm this conclusion by search for Slavonic names in the telephone directory of Tegus. But in vain, total disaster.

But finally I was lucky! On my way back home from Honduras my neighbour in the plane was Yury B-v, former sportsman and now table tennis coach. For one year he coached, polished and prepared the Honduran team for Juegos Panamericanos (Panamerican games). The contract finished and now Yury was coming back to the motherland.

I was happy to find a Russian who worked in Honduras. And naturally I couldn't resist but ask B-v if he managed to meet other Russians there. I was disappointed by the reply of B-v: for all this time only once he came across a compatriot, and it was in the police station, when the latter came to get an identity card. According to B-v, that compatriot who came to Honduras at the beginning of 90s (!) did not reveal any special desire for communication, got his document, pulled his cachucha5 hat over the eyes and disappeared without giving a hand at parting. «From our extremely short talk I understood that he got a Honduran citizenship, Yury explained, and gave up as a very bad job. He broke his ties with Russia to such an extent that he changed his name to the Honduran manner».

«The clue to the issue of the Russian presence in Honduras might be in this, I was contemplating under the accompaniment of steady roar of plane turbines. The Russians, who came to this country having valid reasons, decided to start their life at a scratch, taking final decision to merge in the elements of the Honduran life».


1. Instituto Nacional de Estadisticas (INE).
2. See the typical commentary of such kind in the newspaper La Tribuna, Tegucigalpa, Grave error aliarse con Chavez, 21.07.07.
3. It is worth mentioning that the rate of expulsions of Hondurans in 2006 was much higher. According to the Instituto Nacional de Atencion al Migrante (INM), some 60 thousand persons were subjected to such sanctions. As on July 2007 — about 15 thousand.
4. According to some estimations, quite substantial amount of these «money orders» prove that this channel is used for «money laundering» of international criminal and drug organisations.
5. Cachucha (Span.) - originally — a baseball cap with a long peak that has become a popular head gear in Latin American countries.


K. Sapozhnikov
Photos of Honduras
January 2008

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