Two Wrong Choices
[private] I asked my mother if I had to go to the peace march and she said, “no.” I wondered if I would have problems since many of my friends went to it. The country’s leaders felt it would be better to call the parade “a peace march,” and not showing up for the march would mean lower notes at school and potentially getting on a “black list” of people not supporting the regime.
It was 1979 in communist Poland, I was 10 years old and it was May 1, the international workers day. “The peace march” provided an opportunity for the communist government to display their unity and indoctrinate their societies into thinking that they live in a great place and are ready to march for peace.
From that time on I was always suspicious of government organizing demonstrations, and especially suspicious of any government propaganda that would have the word “peace” in it, flying doves, or the term “unanimous” associated with it.
There is a pattern: the government of free societies: US, Canada, Western Europe, and Japan, are not in the business of organizing marches or demonstrations. The governments that organize the marches and display them on their TV as commercials of people’s support are: North Korea, China, Libya, Iran, and lately… here.
At this point the majority of political dissenters have been silenced. I talk to them and they are often intimidated, uncomfortable to voice their opinion. They are local business owners, islanders that are black, white, Garifuna, many Europeans, and some Americans.
This is the third coup I have experienced: after the Jaruzelski coup in1981 Poland, and the internal 2002 coup in Eritrea. After living for 18 years under communism, I don’t easily fall into paranoia when someone is calling someone ‘Hitler,’ or a ‘communist.’ I am more concerned with freedom of speech curtailment as signs of totalitarianism.
For me it’s scary when almost all private print and TV media abandon objectivism, impartiality and honest reporting in favor of one-sided propaganda – both left and right. The media that did not fall in the official line – TV Globo, Canal 36, Radio Progresso – were shut down, their equipment confiscated and some of their journalists beaten up.
Representatives of Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Corporation, Honduras’ biggest investors, spoke highly of president Zelaya, even after his ouster. This echoes the overall position of the US government who had nothing to gain and everything to lose in supporting the Honduras coup.
The US would be going against practically all of the international community, looking as hypocrites. The US would find itself alone, supporting a government that has only partial support in the society and will be gone in six months, replaced possibly by another leftist candidate and Zelaya’s right hand man for three years, or a candidate who studied at the Moscow’s Patrick Lumumba University under Brezhnev.
While the tourist business has suffered disproportionally more than other industries from the post June 28 chaos, the entire country will have to go through years, maybe decades of image rebuilding. Investors, aid organizations and tourists will continue to perceive Honduras as an unstable, weak country with corrupt officials and internal economic divisions, and no structured ways to handle them.
The only economic activity that has actually increased in Honduras is drug smuggling. The revenue of this commercial enterprise doesn’t figure into the economic annals, but is likely to surpass that of coffee, remittances from abroad, or on a bad year…tourism. US aid spent on Honduras, $190 million, amounts to less than five tons of cocaine. That much is moved in four planes that land on Utila or Guanaja in a week.
The soldiers stationed at the Utila and Guanaja landing strips were there for six weeks after June 28, not because of a rediscovered commitment to reduce drug smuggling, but a preoccupation to keep one dangerous individual out of the country. When that threat diminished, the troops abandoned landing strips for the barracks and the drug smuggling planes and boats returned. [/private]