Sunday, November 22, 2009

Elections and Views of Two Taxi Drivers

As I rode to the closing of the Nationalist campaign in San Pedro Sula today I rode in one taxi that was a person saying he is not going to vote. When I rode back in another taxi that person was a Nationalist. The attitude was very different in both drivers. However, both were not very adept at what is actually going on in the country and both were poorly educated.




The first driver was convinced that Zelaya was tricked into signing the Tegucigalpa San Jose Accord because he believed that he had been told that he would be returned on November 5 to the presidency and the Congress was just a formality. I do not believe that someone who is supposed to be intelligent enough to be president is able to be tricked into signing an agreement that says something very different from what he is claiming he was promised. This is a convenient excuse and more propaganda to lead the ignorant into believing he was duped. Before I got out of the car I turned to him and said…you know why voting is important? He looked perplexed at my question and said no. I looked straight at him and said in the US, blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and women fought for more than 100 years to have the right to vote and in Honduras for just 27 years has the community had the right to vote and to ignore that struggle is to spit in our ancestors faces and stomp on their graves for that struggle. He was silent and thanked me and said that he would consider my thoughts and decide on whether he would vote or not. Will he? I do not know…but I hope he will take my words to heart because I meant every single one of them. His attitude had indeed changed from the moment in which I had entered his car to the moment I left it at the rally.



When I had enough of the rally because it was really very crowded and very hot at the same time I decided to not wait for the buses to leave and deal with the crowds which I hate. So I went and found another taxi. This time I stepped into a totally different attitude. This driver was indeed going to vote and felt like Liberals were divided for a long time to come and that their division had handed the presidency to Lobo on a silver cake platter. He said they may as well inaugurate him after seeing the campaign rally there is little doubt he will win. I was impressed with his observation and asked what his thoughts were on the situation in the country. He was very pronounced in his opinions and still like others held the opinion that none of the presidents or hopefuls has ever really cared about Honduras. He felt it would take a group of Americans or Americans and Europeans running the country for at least 8 years to change attitudes and the direction of the country. He said we need people like you who know what justice is about. I considered his thoughts…and sympathized with them. He said look I am not educated and never was, I am poor or lower middle class like most of the country and our only hope is a government that will lead for the people and not for a handful of people who tag along for personal benefit. I felt that was a dead on target point. Impressive for an uneducated taxi driver. However, his next statement would take me by surprise. Evidently in recent days he had been robbed, the robbers stuffed him in the trunk of the car and he is sure if he had not pulled the emergency release and escaped they would have killed him. He was so suddenly angry at this that he said that they need a president who will either kick out or do away with all of the gangs, thugs, robbers, and general undesirables in the country. He said Hondurans are a hard working people, but those of us who do not want to work ruin it for everyone that does want to work and do something for themselves. While I found his words to disturb me I found it even more unsettling that I found myself agreeing with him as to truth in his thoughts. I disagree with doing away with undesirables as attractive as that might seem. However, there does need to be a strong stance taken in reference to the undesirables in this country.



What I do know about this entire experience separate from my experience at the rally itself was that people from identical backgrounds have taken entirely different positions on this crisis and I hope that in the long run it is for the positive and not the negative of Honduras.



One thing is clear and that is that Manuel Zelaya was able to divide Hondurans irregardless of identical backgrounds and that division will take many years to heal if it were not for the peaceful nature of Hondurans I am afraid that this country would have been mired in a civil war at this point and I am thankful for their peaceful nature because it may take them further than other countries without the need to hurt over those they have lost before the crisis is resolved.



photos courtesy of La Prensa of campaign closing rallies in San Pedro Sula. 

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Women were allowed to vote in Honduras in 1955 during the administration of Don Julio Lozano Diaz. Prior to that no one was legally denied the right to vote because of race or creed. The Constitution of 1848 enacted a literacy requirement that was to go into effect in ten years, but did not.

LaGringaSPS said...

That is interesting, but my comments about women and other races was toward US elections since their present constitution is much older than the present Honduran constitution...that might not have been clear.
In 1956-1957 Honduras was controlled by a military junta.Also in the years 1963-1971, 1972-1975, 1975-1978, and finally 1978-1982...because of all of the years of military juntas...everyone was pretty much denied the right to vote as a whole until that occurred from 1956forward with a few exceptions and even those were overturned by the military in actual military coups...so I prefer to stick to the present constitution and rights to vote.

Anonymous said...

During the military juntas from 1963 until 1982, which were administered MAINLY by National Party bureaucrats, and the pathetic ephemeral Nationalist government of Dr. Cruz (1971-1972) the Constitution of 1957 remained in effect until the 1965 one, which was enacted to try to give a gloss of respectability to that junta and its enablers. It lasted until the 1982 Constitution (changed almost thirty times).

My point was to try to clarify that the legal right to vote for every citizen, including thelast group, women, has existed since 1955. A history of Military-Nationalist political oppression from 1963 to 1982 -- which I CAN give -- was not intended.

The Liberals also failed in many ways from 1982 until 1990, but it was not because of the 1982 Constitution.

I think that the 1982 Constitution is an excellent one; it provided for the removal of Zelaya. But it did not create any right to vote.

LaGringaSPS said...

In article 40 it makes it an obligation to vote if you are a citizen. So it does in its own way create the right to vote. Since I came after the terms of military juntas when clearly people´s right to vote would have been chaotic I have not read the other constitutions. I do not think that the 82 constitution needs to be rewritten..what we need is to have leaders that follow the laws and defend the constitution. The military juntas regardless of where they orignated from would clearly be a dark period for Hondurans because they had no choice in thier situation. Though my husband says crime was lower during those periods. Perhaps that is true, I do not know, but if we had leaders who were serious about respect of the law then crime would be lower now too. I appreciate your comments and insight as it seems you have an extensive knowledge of the subject. Yes, the constitution has been modified in the articles that can be modified such as making military service voluntary instead of obligatory. My husband joined the military by force basically because he was on the way to his grandmother´s funeral and soldiers stopped a bus and dragged off all those who were able to serve and had not done so. He was one of those people. He could have gotten out because his uncle knew the right people, but he decided to stay and served 6years. He said he learned discipline and finished his schooling while there. He shows little anger with what happened, just the way it happened. He also thinks that if it were an obligation perhaps kids would not be out committing crimes. It is nice to know that this little country didn´t deny the right to vote based on race unfortunately the US did.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your observations.

1963 is fast becoming a forgotten period. I was 21. Castro was fast fomenting communist revolutions including in Central America. I have mixed feelings about that golpe and the aftermath. Sometimes I think that it was a necessary evil (like Negroponte and Alvarez); other times I think that civilian governments could have kept Honduras free, Liberal or Nationalist. Costa Rica did it.

Your comments are always excellent, but any one can occasionally find some little points to disagree with, which is natural.

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