Following a year-and-a-half absence from Honduras, where I spent four months reporting the aftermath of the coup d’état against Mel Zelaya in 2009, I returned to the country this past Sunday. The same day, the Cartagena Accord was signed in Colombia by Zelaya and current Honduran president Pepe Lobo (the product of illegitimate elections held under the coup regime), permitting Zelaya to return from exile/“distinguished guest-hood” in the Dominican Republic and paving the way for Honduras’ reincorporation into the Organization of American States, from which it was extricated based on its anachronistic coup-conducting.
Despite the accord, golpista rhetoric continues in the same broken-record fashion as always, and the first person I spoke with upon setting foot in the capital city informed me—as though it were urgent news and not something I had been repeatedly informed of for four months in 2009—that Zelaya had sought to remain president for life.
Zelaya, of course, had done nothing of the sort, and had merely proposed that the Honduran populace be consulted as to whether or not it desired to rewrite the national constitution, composed during the era of U.S. military domination of the country and pitted against the interests of the non-elite.
My interlocutor proceeded to warn me, as though he had spontaneously come up with the comparison himself, of the inherent injustice in permitting Zelaya to remain unincarcerated:
In this country people go to jail for years for stealing a hen”.
I asked him whether the lot of the poor—presumably the demographic most prone to stealing poultry—had not stood to improve somewhat from the policies of Zelaya, who, far from being a socialist revolutionary, had simply raised the minimum wage in certain sectors to a whopping 290 dollars a month and demonstrated greater concern than usual for communities affected by foreign mining operations and predatorial land acquisitions by the Honduran oligarchy.
Probably, he said, but then returned to broken-record mode and the poultry theft theme.
As for crimes not involving fowl, coup perpetrator General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez has enjoyed a post-coup reincarnation as general manager of Hondutel, the state telecommunications company, while a general climate of impunity continues to facilitate politically-motivated assassinations of anti-coup citizens.
Prominent golpista Adolfo Facussé, president of the Honduran National Industrial Association, meanwhile surfaced in Monday’s El Heraldo with the opinion that Zelaya should willingly appear in court, despite the dropping of charges against him, as a means of stemming impunity in Honduras. Facussé is quoted in the article as surmising:
[Otherwise] we’re still going to have corruption but no corrupt people in jail; in this country people are jailed for stealing a hen”.
The next time Facussé feels compelled to weigh in on the issue of corruption in Honduras, perhaps he should recall that he has recently been exposed for failing to repay a business loan in the amount of approximately one million dollars.
In other words, more than a hen.