Mass Protests Shake Honduras
The tiny Central American nation of Honduras rarely makes world news. However, a series of protests in the past few months, combined with a social media movement to end corruption, has shaken the region and some are wondering if it will lead to a systematic change in government.
It started back in May when one of the largest corruption scandals in Honduran history rocked the nation. It involved around $200 million dollars being allegedly taken and redistributed to bureaucrats by the Institute of Social Security. Many in Honduran society believe this was done by systematically overcharging citizens for basic healthcare services.
At first the protesters were calling for an independent investigation into the scandal. But now it seems they are calling for the removal of the president.
The movement, which was primarily led through social media initiatives, was primarily made up of students. Holding torches they took to the street, marching peacefully through the nation’s capital, Tegucigalpa. However as news of the scandal spread, citizens from a myriad of backgrounds began to join the protests.
By early July one of the biggest protests yet swelled to 60,000 people, who walked slowly through Tegucigalpa’s usually bustling streets, chanting for a multinational investigation and the removal of the President. And the protests show no sign of abating as just last week, over 25,000 marched through the street, continuing to demand the same.
And now, while Honduras is on the brink, another scandal has ripped through the nation. Emails from Hillary Clinton, while she was serving as Secretary of State, show support for a coup that ousted the democratically elected President of Honduras Manuel Zelaya in 2009.
And whether or not Zelaya is capitalizing on these protests, or simply coming out of the woodwork as a casualty of the corruption in government, he is now throwing his support behind the protesters.
In an interview with Democracy Now! Zelaya described his position, “Justice in Honduras, judicial officers, have lost all credibility since the coup d’état and to this day, first of all, because they are practically the same ones who conspired to bring about the coup d’état in the first place, in which I was the first victim.”
Zelaya goes on to say that because the United States negotiated with leaders of the coup, they should be listening to the discontent of the people on the ground: “And the problem is that the United States doesn’t want to hear these calls of protest from our peoples who are our in the streets, just like the people of Guatemala. Today, the people of Honduras—this is not being directed by anyone. There is no political party leading these citizen demonstrations. It’s spontaneous. This spontaneity—well, the State Department is deaf and mute in response to the voice of protest, and I would like to draw attention to this.”
Although some leaders of the protests have won recognition from the UN and US Embassy, it has also been reported that both the UN and the US will be working with the President of Honduras to help create a “dialogue” between the people and the government.
Many are speculating that Honduras is at one of its most important political crossroads in its recent history. However, whether or not this leads to any meaningful reforms within the government remains to be seen.
Photo Credit: LTbib/Wikimedia