I approached a police officer on the sidewalk in Tegucigalpa yesterday to inquire as to the whereabouts of the current protests in favor of deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. The officer informed me that protesters had blocked the highway north of the capital, that it would take me two hours to reach the blockade on foot provided I was not mugged on the way, and that if I did arrive I would most likely be hit with a stray rock or other projectile. His concerns were confirmed when a teacher received a bullet to the head after the protest moved to a large market in the city; still not confirmed is whether the teacher is dead or alive, although if alive he might do well to heed the lesson contained in the caption on page 8 of today’s El Heraldo, which corresponds to a picture of him on a stretcher in his underwear: “Professor Roger Vallejo Soriano ended up with a head wound. He had abandoned his classroom in order to go out and protest in the streets.”
The police officer assured me that there would be more protests taking place today starting at 10 AM, and that they would also be infiltrated by Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, and possibly a few Salvadorans, all of whom were provoking the Hondurans into thinking there had been a coup in Honduras. If this coup were really a coup, the officer argued, he would not be standing on the sidewalk merrily chatting with me but would instead have assumed a harsher disposition. He indicated passing traffic and pedestrians as proof of the freedom of movement permitted by the non-coup regime of Roberto Micheletti; I in turn brought up the curfew which presently ran from 1-4.30 AM in Tegucigalpa and 6 PM-6 AM on the Nicaraguan border—a schedule which had, according to an article recently featured in the daily La Tribuna, reduced the freedom of movement of sex workers.
The officer acknowledged that there were certain exceptions to freedom and that, for example, it was necessary for him to detain and investigate any Venezuelan or Nicaraguan that he spotted, regardless of whether they presented valid travel documents. He congratulated me on the superior freedoms enjoyed by US passport holders, adding that he could never have revealed the starting time of a protest to a Venezuelan or Nicaraguan. He did not respond to my question of whether the Venezuelans and Nicaraguans would not already know what time the protest was going to start, as they had provoked it, but did reveal that my privileges resulted from the fact that the US was not provoking Hondurans.
Further irony on the part of the Honduran police force emerged in this morning’s La Tribuna, in which the police countered Roger Vallejo Soriano’s bullet wound with the assertion that they had merely used tear gas on protesters. As for other armament-related ambiguities involving nations that did and did not provoke, the paper quoted Hugo Chávez’ response to Colombian claims that he had provided rocket launchers to the FARC. According to Chávez, Colombian time might be better spent in inquiries to the US and Israel regarding how weapons manufactured in their respective nations had ended up in the hands of Colombian guerrillas.