Saturday, July 18, 2009

Living under a coup for 21 days

We had one night this week without a curfew. Wednesday the government re-imposed the curfew – from midnight to 5:00 am. Now it’s from 11:30 pm to 4:30 am. Why was it reinstated? The official reason was: “Given continued, open threats by groups who seek to provoke disturbances and disorder ... and to protect the people and their goods, the government has decided to impose curfew from midnight.”

Saturday talks were held in Costa Rica between representatives of the deposed president Zelaya and the de facto president Micheletti.

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias has made several proposals. By Saturday evening Zelaya expressed his general agreement with them, at least in principle, but Micheletti has insisted that he will not accept Zelaya’s reinstatement as president.

The talks will resume late Sunday morning. It looks like a good sign that they will continue to meet and talk. Pray for a softening of hearts.

This Saturday morning Padre Efraín called about 7:00 am and asked me to get the parish pick up from the auto repair shop in Santa Rosa and drive it back to Dulce Nombre. I was a little put off, since I was in the middle of washing sheets and since the trip might mean taking the awful back roads again. But as I passed the spot where the road blockade would be held I passed through without problem. They occupied the site a little bit later that morning.

When I returned to Santa Rosa about 2:00 pm, a group of about 200 were at the blockade site. But the military and the police had stopped traffic on both sides more than a kilometer away from the demonstration; so people had to walk quite a distance. (They didn't do this a while back when there was a big anti-mining blockade with 600 - 800 people at the same place.)

While at Dulce Nombe, I spent some time with the Parish Council as they dealt with the usual parish business. Padre Efraín was visiting a distant village; Father Julio Cesar, the associate pastor, had a wedding and only got to the meeting just before lunch. While he was there someone brought up a problem. What impressed me was the way Father Julio handled the issue. He asked what the village church council and the sector council had said. Then he asked for the consensus of the parish council. He did not make a decision and then ask for their consent. He asked for their opinions and consensus first.

The parish of Dulce Nombre has a new project, funded by Manos Unidas, a Spanish aid agency, to help improve grain production, to promote organize processes, and to prepare family gardens. There are about 45 villages in the parish but only 23 will be included in this project. In each village 30 of the poorest families were identified with the help of the village pastoral team. The three young people who are helping organize the project have been visiting the villages to interview the families.

While at the parish I took a quick look at a few of the interview sheets, which they will bring together in a comprehensive report. There were small and large families, Catholics and Protestants. But two things struck me. First, many of the houses had dirt floors. But, worse, many of the people’s diets were almost completely restricted to corn tortillas, beans, and eggs, with meat maybe once a week. Some ate almost no vegetables, though some occasionally included potatoes in their diets. No wonder there is so much malnutrition.

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