Stuck on the ‘Honduran Psyche‘

March 1st, 2008

[private] Hello,

“The [Bay Islands] Voice” wrote: “I’d like to think that we have provided an example of good, honest and thorough journalism for everyone in Honduras to look at and learn from. The Honduran press is mediocre at best. It lacks objectivity, thoroughness, and most importantly integrity. It can be, and often is, for sale. With all that said, Honduras does have a free press and Hondurans do value the venue for discussion.”

I agree with the mediocrity you mention regarding some the Honduran press, especially on certain TV channels. What I do not agree with is this perennially judgmental attitude of yours that pretends to stereotype all of us, media and Honduran people, by constantly pointing out only negative aspects in a way that is both offensive and disrespectful to people who are trying to make a difference in this country. And please believe that there are plenty of us. Just try to read and investigate a little more.

Please do not claim that we are all for sale. It has taken me, and a lot of the people I know, hard work and sacrifice to get to where we are. In my case, I could run away, like many have already, and comfortably live anywhere in the world with my hard-earned experience and a wonderful university title. But I agree to earn less than the American minimum wage, to work and to try to positively help out in this country (by writing as best I can) because I do believe we can make a difference and be humble about it.

I am frankly sick that some foreigners that reside here keep regarding the same people they live amongst with such arrogance and disrespect. Please try to lower yourselves from your self-sufficiency and self-assigned “owners of the truth” label. If there is anything you can learn from a good chunk of our (numerous and respectable) society, it is to be a little humble, a little less perfect. Maybe then you will get a better voice than the one you are continuing to prolong, which we have heard from ever since the first Anglo-Saxons came over, a little over a century ago.

Give thanks that we have allowed you to settle here, to share in our bounty, and even to allow you to participate by publishing your opinions. But please stop offending us. Worse, you give our neighboring countries quite solid weapons to keep attracting investment to their own land by writing stuff like that, and reasons to provoke scorn, which helps for us to work separated, not together. … I read how well some countries from the European community did after uniting, particularly countries like Ireland and Poland (not to mention the formerly communist countries), which needed that little extra push to move forward.

Please aim to offer solutions, not problems. Do try to set a good example, and to be a little less insulting. Have you not heard that “en todos lados se cuecen habas” [everywhere the same things happen]? Do not claim now that in your countries there is no crime, corruption, or a set of spotless human values. First world countries, especially in the media and the arts, have generated such confusion in a world that is today submerged in an ocean of consumerism, superficiality and the exclusive seeking of earthly pleasures. …

I advise you to read this piece once again, maybe you will learn on how some of us think, so you may lighten instead of adding more weight to our load. …

Alejandra Paredes L.
Revista Cronos – Editorial Assistant

Dear Ms. Paredes,

Thank you for the ample and heartfelt opinions and advice. It is exactly this type of cultured dialogue that we strive to encourage through our magazine. With our editorials and articles we do occasionally touch some sensitive subjects for Bay Islanders and Hondurans, but we do it with the intention of exploring these subjects, not offending.

I do read and investigate Honduras media and society, but maybe not on pages of Cronos or Estilo. The fact that the two most popular, visible magazines in Honduras are “society magazines” reflects the media and society values in itself. Unfortunately, it is not El Libertador, nor Hablemos Claro that capture what Hondurans want to read. As they say: “El mal de muchos, consuelo de tontos” [the wrong of many serves to console the dumb].

We also have a social section in Bay Islands Voice magazine, but we strive to reflect more of Honduran society’s cross-section. We feature events and lives of the middle class and the poor, not just the financial elites. We also never accept payment to cover such events – something that is unfortunately standard in Honduras press. While the poor will not buy your or our magazine’s ads, for us at least, profit is not a top priority.

I’d like to make a correction: I am not Anglo-Saxon, but the Anglo-Saxon, at least in the Bay Islands have been living here well more than 100 years–since the 1600s in fact.

Asking me, or any other foreigner in Honduras, to “give thanks that you have allowed me to settle here,” can only be matched by demanding Hondurans to give thanks to foreigners that retire here, start businesses here and employ Hondurans. I and many other foreigners are guests who pay for the privilege of living in Honduras through residency fees, taxes, and sometimes through forced bribes. We don’t expect to hear thank you from Honduran officials and we almost never do.

We sometimes offer some articles that are informative, editorials that are enlightening and letters to the editor that are critical. I am sorry to see that you fail to notice that. But I myself also sometimes fail to please all groups of our readers. We can’t please every group, but we hope most will appreciate the true stories and articulate opinion pieces in our magazine.

Thomas Tomczyk

Dear Mr. Tomczyk,

It is with sadness that I write this email to you, after having read your article. As a citizen of this country, I pride myself in having my Honduran roots, ethnicity, history and role models to look after.

What would we do if we didn’t have the writings of Jose Cecilio del Valle, Morazan, Amaya Amador, Roberto Sosa, Froylan Turcios, Leticia Oyuela, Roberto Quesada, Julio Escoto, Ramon Rosa, Juan Ramon Molina, Argentina Diaz and many more? Whom I assume from your writing, you do not know.

Many recent events in Honduran culture and history are positive, such as the booming eco-tourism industry in Bay Islands, placed by God in the second largest coral reef in the world.

Our Mayan roots are entrenched in the western part of the country, and native roots of many communities, both of half-breed Creole and African origins, are present in our ever expanding rich culture. I think you ought to research even deeper into our country’s origins, history, arts and the men and women who have shaped our identity, before flatly stating that we have no identity.

Best regards,
José Mario López
Ficohsa, Sub Gerente Riesgos Crediticios

Dear Mr. López,

My opinion piece’s main objective was to explore the idea of Honduran identity: Is there one, and how do Hondurans define themselves. Few people doubt that Honduras, a country of seven million, has people who excel in their professions.

I have read books by Amaya Amador–probably the best Honduran writer, who died in 1966 yet wasn’t published in Honduras till 1991–and stories by a naturalized Honduran English writer Gullermo Yuscaran. Sadly, I believe that the typical Honduran knows little of his literary brethren and that the national education system has failed to instill the knowledge and aspirations of these personalities in the minds of Hondurans. What I found interesting is that the common person here has a disconnect, or little interest, in writers, poets and thinkers–in proportion to the absence of these examples in school textbooks and programs.

It is unfortunate but true, that forging an identity in any small, poor nation is a difficult task. That task is even more difficult when the country finds itself in a never-ending election cycle, is run by a university drop-out, and has low literacy and high poverty rates. A large portion of Honduras people struggle daily to secure basic necessities: security, transportation, water and energy. And at this point in time, that defines who they are more than writings by Amaya Amador.

I am writing to you from Roatan, the capital of the “booming eco-tourism industry in Bay Islands.” I have to tell you that I don’t see much ecotourism here and the basic infrastructure has failed to keep up with the boom. During 2008 Semana Santa tourists are likely to find themselves with no electrical power. Rapid and little planned development is a convoluted blessing and a questionable achievement.

To be proud can be both an admirable and a handicap. Patriotism aside, citizens of any country often fail to coolly, objectively compare their nation’s accomplishments with that of other nations with similar blessings and handicaps. [/private]

Many thanks for reading and expressing your opinions.

Thomas Tomczyk

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