Read the Spanish version here.
“Sometimes life is heavy, and the soul despairs,” reads a verse by the Honduran poet Jorge Federico Travieso. And yes, absolutely—sometimes life is heavy, and the soul does despair. But out of despair and from a heavy burden is how we become human, are made a person, and from there, we can change the world. Comfort will never deliver change. In fact, comfort immobilizes, individualizes and makes us pretentious. The year 2016 left Hondurans with unresolved matters that this new year has inherited. Inevitably, that will help us stay the course of the creating the country we dream of. One thing that is clear: is that the upcoming year will hold intense struggles, collective and individual analyses, and the dialogue needed to build hope together.
For Honduras, the year 2017 inherits a society defined by a culture of fear. A society that trembles under violence, a violence that selectively assassinates to spread terror. This is the case of the March 2016 murder of Berta Cáceres and various other human rights defenders. And it is the case with organized crime, where violence is used to create veneration out of fear. An institutionalized war is used as justification for state violence, and the militarization and criminalization of social protests are sanctioned and permitted. Peace is not a profitable industry in this system, but war is. Here, the hope for peace, the dreams of safety and the possibility of an institution that guarantees the rule of law are only imagined within the struggle of the people. The collective people join from many sectors to recover that which should already be public, and to condemn the Honduran government, who doesn’t provide peace because war generates better profits.
We inherit a society condemned to ignorance and with educational proposals that offer hope for no one. The educational model in Honduras has collapsed, the programs are not a viable answer to anything, and the citizens who do achieve some level of education are doomed professionals—functionally illiterate within this system. Quality education is not in the interest of the Honduran government. The government would rather keep us in every sense, stupid and blind. They deny an education that would liberate, develop a consciousness or make us true citizens. As the Nicaraguan revolutionary and poet Tomas Borge said, “It is easier to kill a guerrilla in the skirt of their mother, than in the skirt of the mountain.” In this social model, that guerrilla is the child in the school, and what must be murdered are their ideas and what must be cut off are their dreams and therefore they can be condemned to ineptitude. In this social model, driven by the current Honduran administration and those we have governed here historically, every child who is born is a potential enemy. More important than violently severing the limbs of their body, they cut off the mind by withholding education, and with that, the possibility of being absolutely free and a citizen able to participate in full exercise of their basic human rights.
We inherit a Honduras drowning in a deep poverty, juxtaposed with the enormous wealth of politicians, entrepreneurs, religious leaders, drug-traffickers and members of organized crime. In some cases, these people are all one in the same. This poverty is evidenced by the non-existence of basic services necessary for life, the inability of families to find resources to support themselves, and in a premature aging of society so that everyone must mature and act as adults would, to focus on the extreme difficulties and disregard the natural stages of growth. This poverty is not by chance. This poverty’s purpose is to strengthen the pseudo-dictatorship that governs us. During an epidemic of hunger, those who have power and money can buy consciences and feed submissiveness.
We face the year 2017 knowing with certainty there will not be better education, there will not be safety and there will not a reduction in poverty. In today’s Honduras —and under the regime led by Juan Orlando Hernández, now an illegal candidate for an illegal reelection— these three elements are the thematic axes which he will justify his thirst for power, his excesses of violence and his cult-like personality (promoted by his media and communication moguls), all which will ensure he maintains a high profile, sadly, in this electoral year.
However, there is hope in the Honduran people and their ability to humanize themselves in the face of such dehumanization. There is hope in the creative arts, as instruments for the expression of freedom and the making of free men and free women. There is hope in a semi-functional organization that allows us to feel part of it without being owners of it. There is hope in the rejection of egocentric attitudes and, above all, in the clear conviction that we can change the world —as theorist and Zapatista supporter John Holloway says— without taking power.
Héctor Efrén Flores is a lawyer who works for an educational foundation in Honduras. He is also a regionally published poet and essayist in the resistance against oppression. You can follow him @hefrenf.