Last night in the Honduran town of Catacamas, home of ousted President Manuel Zelaya in the department of Olancho, a meeting of coup resistance organizers took place at Colegio 18 de Noviembre. A number of teachers were in attendance, thus confirming the political orientation of the nation’s educators, who had already raised suspicions by repeatedly cancelling Thursday and Friday classes in order to demonstrate.
Further evidence of the squandering of intellectual opportunities by democracy was a stack of cardboard ballot boxes labelled “Encuesta de opinión, 28 de junio de 2009” in the corner of the Catacamas schoolroom where the meeting was held. Not held, of course, was the June 28 poll proposed by Zelaya, as it had coincided with his geographic repositioning by the Honduran military. A rumor has surfaced among certain Honduran sectors that funds squandered by Zelaya in publicity for his poll may have come from Venezuela, although it has not been established why it matters if Zelaya wastes Venezuelan money.
Other costs of public empowerment were outlined at the resistance meeting last night by a man in a red baseball cap who had just returned from the pro-Zelaya gathering in Nicaragua, attended by over 150 citizens of Catacamas. His hike through the mountains back to Honduras had lasted 11 hours, he declared,due to the fact that there were several gorditos impeding the movement of the pack. The stress of waiting for obese hikers had served to convince the man that the mere return of Zelaya to power was not a sufficient reward for his efforts and that only a complete overhaul of the governmental system would do; my own stamina was meanwhile tested after the meeting, when I decided it would be prudent to match Al Giordano of Narco News beer for beer.
The inundation was accompanied by a group of resistance organizers armed with a guitar and some old Sandinista songs, thus solidifying the claim that opposition to military coups was not endemic to Honduras but rather an invention of other meddlesome Latin American nations. The organizers denied, however, that Nicaraguan guerrilla models were appropriate for the Honduran resistance, something Zelaya had apparently reckoned when he announced the formation of his ejército popular y pacífico in Nicaragua.
The pacific nature of Zelaya’s army was called into question yesterday by an El Heraldo article entitled “Entrena ‘Guerrilla Zelayista’”, according to which the group had attempted to lynch an AFP reporter and photographer. Failure to carry out the lynching can be thanked for the inclusion of three photographs with the article, which depict alleged training sessions of Zelaya’s ejército. The person selecting the photos has evidently not deemed it at all inconsistent to feature a shot of two scraggly men doing push-ups in the grass—one with no shoes—approximately two inches above the line of text describing the attempted lynching by Zelaya’s “seguidores violentes.”
According to the resistance leaders in Catacamas, violente was a more suitable description of the Honduran police force, which had recently shot and killed a teacher at a protest in Tegucigalpa. The police had, however, restrained themselves yesterday afternoon at a checkpoint on the highway to Olancho, where Al rued the brief duration of our roadside interrogation and the fact that he did not get to tell the story he had prepared about coming to the region to explore a cave.
The man in the red baseball cap has forgiven Zelaya for having overweight supporters, and remarked at the meeting that the deposed president had opened the door for political change. Conceptions of Zelaya as catalyst rather than end goal are probably fortunate given the number of closed doors facing Zelaya himself.