Tuesday, September 01, 2009


One of the programs of Caritas Santa Rosa is the development of citizen participation. There are similar programs in the other dioceses of Honduras, but three of the programs, including ours, are financed by Caritas of Norway.

Two of the goals have been to combat corruption at the local and regional level as well as to strengthen democratic institutions.

The project works in three municipalities (roughly equivalent to small counties) and has helped in the development of what we call “civil society,” groups of people who work together for the good of small (or large) communities. These would include women’s associations, village or neighborhood planning groups, and water project groups.

The Caritas Program workers have helped these groups get organized and also helped form coalitions between these groups in some places. They have trained people from these groups on how to hold public hearings with local governments as well as to on how Community Transparency Committees can work with the local Transparency Coordinator to combat corruption and misuse of funds. They also help people learn how to affect local governments.

The Caritas program staff have also worked with the Social Ministry of the two parishes where the project is, to provide programs in sustainable agriculture, HIV/Aids, and Catholic Social Teaching.They have helped one rural village find a way to get funds to build a new water holding tank.

A staff person with Caritas Norway is with us this week to see the work. Tuesday and Wednesday she is going out to meet people involved in the projects.

Padre Efraín Romero, the director of Caritas Santa Rosa, Caritas Norway’s representative, a representative from the Caritas Honduras national office and I met together Monday afternoon. Because of the coup and its effects the program will have to be modified. In some parts of the country the program staff feel constrained because of the fear and polarization and in some places have nearly stopped going out to the program sites; however, here the staff continue and expand their work.

As we met, it became clear that – no matter what happens politically – there is a need to work on dialogue and reconciliation. The program must find ways to continue to work with institutions of the civil society as well as with local institutions of those in power. But in a very polarized country, with much intolerance and even violence, something is needed to help create a climate where real participatory democracy can take place. There are some programs that Caritas Colombia has developed and there is information from Caritas International, some of which they've put on their website.

Any process here in Honduras will have to be a long term process but must begin. The national directors of Caritas will be meeting soon and I hope will address this and begin to help build a democratic Honduras.

1 comment:

John (Juancito) Donaghy said...

A friend sent me a statement from an assembly of Afro-Honduran youth, by the youth of ODECO in La Ceiba. Two of their proposals are quite interesting, in light of what I wrote:
•The convocation of a PLEBISCITE so that the citizenry can vote on the writing of a NEW CONSTITUTION, with clear guarantees for wider and more representative participation among all sectors of the Honduran people. This plebiscite should be held on the last Sunday of November of 2010.
•The formation of a Government of National Unity and Reconciliation to untangle the broken institutional order and, to heal the wounds that bloody, divide and impoverish the Honduran people. The transition government that we propose must be apart from the interests of the interest groups that historically and traditionally have usurped the powers of the State. The unity government must take urgent action to strengthen democracy and assure a wider multiethnic and pluricultural participation by the Honduran people."
The full statement can be found at