Coup in Honduras!
Trip Start May 12, 2009
24Trip End Sep 29, 2009
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So Honduras has a new president! I awoke this morning to news of a coup in Honduras... although Congress would prefer not to call it that. It was a succession movement. The military flew former president Zelaya out of the country to Costa Rica and installed Congress speaker Roberto Micheletti as the new President until elections can be held in Nov.
Most pertinent for my travels is that right now there is a nine pm curfew. Hmmm. But no worries, since I still have at least three more weeks in Nicaragua.
The other important events on tv today were the USA-Brasil match and the Espana-Sudafrica match. Both were closely followed by everyone with a tv... I could see the game simply by peering into the houses I passed from the street.
Last night, I went out with a group of Peace Corps volunteers.... voluntarios Cuerpo de Paz. It was a fun opportunity to be invited out to do drinks with the group. After some confusion on which bus goes by the town, I got myself on the right bus and meandered over to the park where we met up. The group of 8 volunteers was more diverse than I would have thought. One girl expressed that she was simply delighted with her assignment and loved teaching the kids. Another guy sat to the side most of the night, holding his stomach. He was quite pale, and said his food hasn´t been agreeing with him lately. Some of the volunteers were really going through a period of being burned out and missing home (or at least friends and family back home) while others were quite comfortable in their routine. One guy said his only gripe was the regulation against dating Nicaraguan girls.
As I was chatting in a hut outside the restaurant with one girl, lighting struck directly over her shoulder. It looked like fire. It struck so suddenly and so brightly I had trouble processing what I just saw. At first, it looked like a tree caught on fire, followed by the sound of the crack as if the roof had collapsed AND a gun was fired... at the same time!!
We were all startled and sorted out what just occurred in the seconds afterward. It seems nothing caught on fire in the jungle because of the torrential rain. All was well, until the power cut out. It was a really dark walk home :)
So, back to the Honduras situation. It is quite the thing. Most people have the radio on all day following the situation and ENDLESS commentary and analysis! I´ve seen analysis on CNN Espanol from professors from George Washington University, University of Texas, and Canadian universities. Nicaraguans are quite well-informed politcally. I have read political commentary in the newspaper so astute it made me cry.
Nicaraguans are very aware of what is going on with Obama´s proposals for the health care overhaul, and more so of what is happening with their southern and northern neighbors. There is almost a comical disdain that Nicaragua has for Costa Rica, it´s wealthy cousin to the south. Many Nicas go there to work and send home remesas (wire money transfers). It is an option closer than the US. Many Nicas also go to Costa Rica for charity medical care, especially children with critical diagnosises. However, Nicas sometimes encounter discrimination (which the government tries to counter with cheerful posters saying "Differences are fun!", roughly, in Spanish).
What I understand about the situation in Honduras is that while many Hondurans were perturbed by Zelaya´s referendum to extend his term as president, they weren´t critically upset. For example, I think some Americans were more upset over Clinton´s indiscretions than most Hondurans were over Zelaya´s plans.
Now, Hondurans simply want peace. If this "coup", or "succession movement", or "golpe de estado" can be done without deaths or major economic disruption, most Hondurans are fine with it. My disclaimer is that this is my third-hand understanding of the feelings about the events. I am not presently in Honduras, and I am talking to Nicaraguans about what they think it is like for the people there. Zelaya is giving a speech to the world audience Tuesday... we´ll see what happens!