Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A week of waiting

Next Sunday elections will be held here in Honduras.

Today I passed a window with a sign that read "They all lie. Nobody fulfills [their promises]. Vote for nobody."

The June 28 coup that removed the elected president, José Manuel Zelaya, from his home and the country and placed transport mogul and long-term congressman (28 years?), Roberto Micheletti, as de facto president.

Various efforts to mediate the crisis have ended up as failures and so the crisis of constitutional order has not been resolved. No nation of the world recognized the de facto regime but that has not stopped the regime from going forward with the elections.

The campaigning is largely over and we await elections which most of the world probably won't recognize as legitimate. (Sadly the U.S. seems intent on recognizing them.)

What will it mean here? I really don't know.

I know that some people will not go out to vote because they are opposed to the coup and are boycotting it and urging others to boycott. (They face prospects of legal prosecution.) Others will not vote because they are just fed up with the politicians. The 2006 election had a 56% turnout, the lowest since the 1983 constitution went into effect. People I know see the two party system as corrupt and non-responsive to the people. The parties award their cronies and punish their opponents. (Getting a teacher's job sometimes depends on your connection with a party and politicians.) And so they might say, as I heard in the US, "Why vote? it only encourages them."

There may be some who go and vote because they really believe the elections may be a way to provide a partial resolution to the crisis. Others may vote out of fear since not voting is a crime.

The Vatican Radio interviewed Father Germán Cálix, the executive director of the national Caritas office. You can read an article based on the interview at Zenit. He's a lot more sanguine than I am about the possible effects of the elections. I know a few priests here who would dispute his take on the situation. They might agree with his statement that Honduras needs to "mend the social fabric that was torn by the conflict, and channel energies," but they would add that there is a need to "re-found Honduras." There is a need to work for reconciliation - but this must go hand in hand with a struggle for justice.

As I have said often, elections will not solve the crisis since its roots are much deeper, in a structure of injustice that enables economic and political elites to remain in power and increase their influence and wealth.

Where will this go? I do not know. I'll have to wait.

But I do know that there is another way to wait, a way more appropriate to the Christian season of Advent which is approaching - preparing for the Lord, by making straight his paths, by being and working with the poor and marginalized so that they may begin to construct structures of justice in their villages and neighborhoods and towns.


Anonymous said...

"so that they may begin to construct structures of injustice..."

May I suggest a minor edit?

I wonder about Father Calix's term "internal pacification." This brings memories of Vietnam.

Anyway, may your Thanksgiving be one of peace and joy, Brother John.


John (Juancito) Donaghy said...

Thanks. I made the correction.
The quote from Father Calix is a fairly literal translation that Zenit made from the Spanish "sobre todo en el proceso de pacificación interna". It might be better translated as "process of peacemaking within the nation."

A blessed Thanksgiving to you and all your loved ones.