Saturday, May 07, 2011


Today I went out to Plan Grande for a meeting of one of the sectors of the Dulce Nombre parish. Afterwards I went to the rural village of Piedras Coloradas where we are beginning a process for the improvement of the village.

On the way there I noticed that there were large expanses of land which had been burned, a tactic used to clear brush. It was ugly and an environmental nightmare. My guess is that much of this land is being burnt not by campesinos to plant subsistence crops but by large landowners for grazing or coffee.In some parts of Honduras, especially the south of Lempira, the municipalities have banned burning and have nearly driven out the practice there. But in this part of the country there is no such legislation.

In Piedras Coloradas I again met with great folks. After being given arroz con leche -  a sort of rice pudding – I talked with a few men sitting around. None of them owns land to plant corn and beans, and so they have to rent land at about 800 lempiras ($41) per manzana (1.68 acres), but the cost of fertilizers, etc., runs the cost up to about 5000 lempiras ($2550) per manzana. And what would the land cost? In another town the people would like to buy a two manzana track of land to build a high school. The cost being asked is about $5,000.

The meeting went very well. We looked again at examples of how they had made some real changes in their community. We then examined who was responsible and they noted that organization is very important. 

We also revisited the question about what they would like their community to look like in the future.

The real joy for me was to see two drawings by young people of how they would like to see their village in 2015. They are striking examples of folk art and a hopeful vision for their rural communities with forests and squirrels, a river with fish and crabs, a park, decent houses with flowers, and a church.

Leaving Piedras Coloradas, with a bunch of bananas, as usual, I felt very good - especially grateful for another chance to be with the salt of the earth, the campesinos, trying - against the odds - to live decent lives, full of faith.

There is another contrast here which I have been reading about. The Honduran Government hosted a two day meeting in San Pedro Sula called “Honduras is open for business.” It seems like an attempt to sell off projects here in Honduras and had as its speakers the ex-president of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe (not noted for a major commitment for human rights) and Paul Romer the US economict who is pushing charter cities (setting up independent zones) in Honduras.

Interestingly, the conference title was in English. Here, opponents have been calling it “Honduras abierto para la venta” – Honduras open for sale. It was held in a fancy hotel with 1500 international businesspeople.

At the same time there was major repression of a student demonstration near the National University in San Pedro Sula. There are also reports of repression in the Bajo Aguan.

I cannot confirm these personally but the contrast between the white clothed chairs in the government conference and the images of blood is striking.

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