Thursday, July 2, 2009

Micahel Jackson DIED! Oh, and a coup

Over the last two years, I have learned a lot about priorities. Well, that isn’t necessarily true. I am not sure I have learned so much as that the reality of priorities and the role they play in life is a constant presence. The way people prioritize has been a fountain of frustration throughout my service. Of course everyone prioritizes differently, especially once you cross the culture boundary. Some things just seem obvious, like health, hygiene and education. (Granted, my hygiene suffers on occasion and I eat foods and at places which I know will probably make me sick.) Thursday, I was reminded of how funny life is and priorities. It often takes days, weeks, sometimes months, for me to hear about events and news, especially from the US. I called a fellow volunteer to invite her to help judge the “First English Music Festival.” She answered with something to the effect of, “Hey what’s up, did you know MICHAEL JACKSON DIED! I just saw it on CNN.” It was strange to hear about such news within hours (I believe) of the actual event. An hour or two later, I stopped by the Passionist volunteers’ house and there too I heard the news. From the Passionists’ I visited one of my teachers and her family where she relayed the news and I later saw it on the local TV station, “Talanga Vision”. Apparently Michael Jackson (And Farah Fawcett as a side note on two of the four occasions) was just big news that I not only heard about it the same week, but FOUR times the day of! Life is funny.

The above paragraph was written June 27. Before the coup.

Speaking of news, it is amazing how little I have about the current situation here. You may have more information than I do. Especially since I do not own a TV or radio.
The question everyone wants to know: “What the hell is going on in Honduras?”
Yes, I am fine. Although the government is in major transition and somewhat unstable at the moment; violence (as far as I know, to this point) has been minimal. There have been many protests in the capital and bigger cities but they seem to be mostly peaceful. As for most small towns, life has continued more or less as normal. Here is what I can tell you and my understanding of the situation:
Last Sunday, June 28, “ex-President” Mel Zelaya had scheduled a special election to put a fourth box on the ballot. This new issue known as the “Cuarta Urna” would change the process to amend the constitution. The president would be able to make changes without going through Congress (which is currently the process). “While Honduran law allows for a constitutional rewrite, the power to open that door does not lie with the president. A constituent assembly can only be called through a national referendum approved by its Congress.” The National Congress, Supreme Court and Military stated that the election was unconstitutional and Sunday morning Mel made a statement from Costa Rica. Honduras had no power and news and radio stations were down from about 7:15am until midday. In the afternoon, Congress appointed the next in line (Micheletti, the president of Congress) as the new acting president until the next president is elected in November and sworn-in in January (as previously scheduled). This is an election year and Honduras has a single term limit for the office of President of the Republic.
Monday, school was cancelled. In many places schools have not yet reopened. Kids and teachers in Talanga returned to school on Tuesday and Wednesday but classes have been cancelled again today and tomorrow. Mel is scheduled to return to Honduras on Saturday.
Throughout the week, protesters for both Zelaya and Micheletti have gathered in the Capital and other cities. Some roadblocks have occurred. Peace Corps volunteers have very limited travel permission. I hate to speak for others, but I think I am safe in saying most PCVs just want the situation to end so we can go back to working and the previous level of travel freedom.

I never thought I would live through a coup. I must say, the view from my post in Talanga would not make a very good movie script. Considering power outages and cancelled school happen all too regularly, the only thing truly out of the ordinary is the news. Other towns may be different and I know some places lost power for 2 days straight during the week. As for now, we await an end to the restrictions and the reasons they are necessary. Happy 4th of July.

I tried to add photos but they won't upload. Sorry, internt sucks coup or no coup.

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