I arrived Sunday night feeling a deep emptiness, along with hunger from the long journey. In the three days that Eva [Mary's Pence ESPERA Promoter] and I met with the women and men in the ESPERA fund businesses in Tegucigalpa, and with friends from there and San Pedro Sula as well, we become filled with the trials and tribulations of our Honduran sisters and brothers. I have a burning desire to share what we have seen and heard on this visit. While these trials and tribulations have affected the success of the ESPERA fund for these once eager, content, and grateful participants, they remain committed to continuing forward and seeking success.
At breakfast, the television “woke us up” with the heart-breaking news of deported children getting off one of several buses. It was marked “Chiapas” and one little boy said that he had parents in the US and not here. How was he going to continue to survive? The rest of the news continued with the stark themes of corruption, violence, and impunity.
As the day wore on, we became aware of how painfully true this was. The women told us about waiting in extremely long lines to buy smaller and cheaper beans. The price for a pound of the regular size is $1.50, about the same drastically high price as in El Salvador where the dollar is used. The Honduran exchange is roughly 21 Limpiras to the dollar. We were told that their money is becoming worth less and less. The cost of the basics for survival is very expensive. The women have to buy their fruits and vegetables at the big stores like Walmart and at the malls because it is safer there. The produce looks nice, but rots more quickly. If they go to the less expensive local markets, they could face not only a knife, but a pistol. That is the price they pay for security! As all prices go up, so does the insecurity and violence. One man, who had felt very differently prior to last year´s election, said that the government is trying to suffocate the poor as the rich get more.
There is fear of boarding the buses and one was recently burned in their locality, the end of the line. Taxi drivers could be met with a pistol to the head requesting a “tax” payment for protection. “We live stressed and anxious, ” said one mother of adolescents. As the children grow, life for them becomes more dangerous and to go out for social activities could be fatal. There is high unemployment and students can study with great sacrifice to graduate, but then there is no work. The youth do not see a viable future and lose hope.
People know when you are at home and when you leave. There are “ears” here that inform. The three sources of violence include not only the gangs, but kidnappers who do so for ransom, and special groups called “cikarias” who are paid to kill people targeted by the narco-traffickers. We were told that congressional leaders are involved in this trade. Drugs enter the country from the north by water and continue to Mexico and the US. The latter is the world´s largest consumer of illegal drugs. Central Americans tell me that they are the bridge for these drugs to reach the big Market. Another comment was that Honduras remains in violence, in bloodshed and deaths, and the United States gets the dollars and the drugs. If they did not consume such a quantity of drugs, there would not be such bloodshed in Honduras.
At night, from our bedroom window, Eva and I could see the huge statue of Christ on the opposite mountain, bathed in a pale pink light. It was a reminder to us of the deep faith of these people. They were grateful for the food they did have as those in the poorer south had even less. They expressed their trust in God as they were committed to continue in the daily struggle, facing lack of employment, growing insecurity and violence, drug and human trafficking, and corruption, etc.
Author´s notes. In a map report from HOMELAND INTELLIGENCE TODAY, nearly 3,000 minors coming from San Pedro Sula were apprehended at the US border from January 1st to May, 2014. This was followed by nearly 1,000 coming from Tegucigalpa and Juticalpa, Honduras. For the second year, San Pedro Sula has been the murder capital of the world in the country that shares the same title.
As we departed from Tegucigalpa, I counted eight US companies within a 2-block span, much more than there seem to be in Guatemala and El Salvador.
Thank you for reading and “listening.”
Pat Rogucki, Board Member