Walking the bridge

Today I went to the mayoreo, like most Saturdays. At the big open air market by the stadium I get my vegetables (green bell peppers, potatoes, onions, cebollinas, eggplants, avocados, garlic—the tiny Honduran kind, not the big Chinese variety—etc.), fruits (juice oranges, pineapples, bananas and plantains, papayas, etc.), hand-cut bacon, lentils, suspiros to give away, quesillo and mantequilla crema at Karla's dairy post (#20), a few dozen eggs, and whatever else looks good. I was going to blow it off today because I have a book review and grant proposal to write, but somehow my friend José convinced to join him for the trip. It's not that far of a walk downhill from my house to the center, and then from the center down to the bridge and up to the stadium.

Today was some new patriotic festival- they seem to be inventing them right and left. Always an occasion to dress the kids up in "traditional" outfits. At the last parade I went to a month ago (I skipped the 15th), the "indio" look for little boys included a full mustache and beard drawn with eye-liner—a little ironic given the history of facial hair on the continent. For the indias, it was the typical add-on double braids and "indigenous" outfits. The outfit that I most clearly remember, however, is that of the little boy (maybe 4 years old) who was dressed in a full Honduran military uniform. His pants were tucked into his boots just like real soldiers, he carried a realistic silver gun, and had an "anti-narcóticos" patch on his shoulder. He looked quite happy with himself, as he walked along clutching his father's hand. The combination of the recent Congressional approval of the new military police, the military generals sitting behind me under the Congressional building watching the parade, and the sight of the little boy gave me shivers. They're so omnipresent. It feels like the military is even more everywhere than a couple years ago. I'm talking feeling, not statistics or funding here. Part of that is because there are more checkpoints than before on main roads. They're usually signaled by a life-size smiling soldier cut-out, his hand in a gesture that's a combination of a wave and a "Stop!" followed by the real life versions, only they're not usually smiling.

But I digress. So José and I walked past the little indios and indias, through Edificio Midence, the route I usually take to my collective taxi at the bottom of the stone stairs where a friend informed me—while walking up them two days ago—that last year someone had been shot dead for a computer. "But it was really early," she emphasized. "Like six in the morning." Three weeks ago I was hurrying to my colectivo. As I turned the corner to the puesto de taxis a man rushed past me in the opposite direction, and I didn't think much of it. But as I approached the next cab in line the young woman in front was buttoning her shirt, looking rattled, and all the waiting drivers were excitedly recounting what had just happened. It took a few seconds for me to realize that the man who had walked by me had just assaulted the woman in the car. I asked her "¿te asaltaron?" and she responded, speaking very fast, saying yes, and he didn't get anything but "he touched my chichis" while finishing tucking in her shirt and looking around her seat for her things. As I sat in the car, wishing there was a way I could help, I heard the drivers retell what had just happened amongst themselves at least a dozen times. The crux of the story was always when the assailant took out his gun. Up until that point in the story, they each described the incident they were recreating as something they might have, could have or would have prevented, "but then when he took out the pistol, I said 'nooo', I'm not getting involved." There were numerous gestures involved in the retelling, which seemed like a collective catharsis as well as a narrative-consolidating event. The young woman, a university student, participated in the retelling just as she had told it to me, and seemed to take some small satisfaction that all her assailant got was her cab fare. She had hidden her phone and wallet under the seat when she saw him walking toward her, since she could tell he meant to rob her. The driver bought her a plastic bag of water. I paid her fare—I couldn't think of anything else to do. As we got out of the cab at the university I asked if she was okay. "Yes," she said. "I'm just a little nervous."

So this morning we walked most of the way toward my cab stand but diverged at Midence to go down the hill to the bridge to the market instead. José had mentioned on the way once already that it was on the same bridge we were about to walk over where they found the guy hanged yesterday, all Mexican style. I'd heard it on the news. Nothing but death on this morning's news, even more than usual, with several massacres around the country and a stray bullet killing outside José's cousin's house (I got to tell him about that one, he hadn't heard). As we kept walking José mentioned the hanging twice more, making sure I knew it was This Very Bridge. I told him "I got it, okay, it was this bridge." The bridge looked the same as always, chocolate brown water churning underneath the first section, the underpass under the second. I wondered which section they'd hung the guy from. I felt distant from it and thought about all the horror those burned Blackwater workers hanged over the Euphrates conjured up for me, and how it reminded me of the medieval torture exhibit I saw in Mexico City and San Francisco. I thought about the thief who'd inadvertently strangled himself and whose death was celebrated in the newspaper comments section (I discussed that briefly here) and how sick that made me feel. But I didn't feel much other than a fleeting curiosity and a new awareness of the bridge that had previously only been my connection between the center and the market, between Tegucigalpa and Comayagüela.

Until I came home and looked at the death porn. At least they had the courtesy to blur out the poor man (slightly), but the title of the article in El Tiempo makes it clear that by virtue of having been killed, he was guilty. "Macabre Finding:" it states, "Suspected gang member hanged from bridge." It goes on to assert that the man, Omar Antonio Cáceres Contreras (45), had been working at his job as a bus driver when he was attacked and kidnapped by heavily armed men identifying themselves as police, and was later found hanging from the bridge I walked over this morning to get my groceries. The evidence of his criminality given ("according to police") in the article was his multiple tattoos. One picture caption read: "The criminals, before hanging the cadaver of the suspected gang member, pulled his boxers down leaving his genital organs exposed as if they were trying to leave some kind of message."

His family, who had fruitlessly searched for him at police stations Thursday after his abduction, reported that he had only lived in Honduras for two years, having migrated to the U.S. at age seven with his mother, who still lives there.

Comments on the article include the following:
gato
Me parece que la limpiesa ya comenso, que bueno una la lacra menos. Agarrence malditas ratas que seran fumigadas.pepito complacenos con dar una fumigadita con fueguito en la PN y el de SPS te lo bamos agradecer mucho..

It seems to me that the cleansing has begun, that's good, one less scourge on our society. Hold on you damn rats you're about to get fumigated, pepito help us out with a fumigation in the PN [National Penitentiary, I'm assuming] and the one in San Pedro Sula well thank you for it very much.

La Muerte.
PUEBLO TANTO QUE ME PIDIERON POR AQUI QUE SI TENIA HUEVOS, QUE SI ME CREIA MACHIT@ , QUE SOLO ERA GETA, AQUI ESTA LO QUE HICE, OTRO EJEMPLO MAS DE LO QUE USTEDES PUEBLO DEBEN DE HACER, ESTO LO HICE YO SOLO Y NADIE MIRO NADA.
ARMENSE EN GRUPOS DE 30 EN CADA COLONIA Y HAGAN LO MISMO.

NATION YOU HAVE BEEN SAYING FOR SO LONG THAT IF I HAD BALLS, IF I THOUGHT I WAS MACHO, THAT IT WAS JUST A MASK, WELL HERE IS WHAT I HAVE DONE, ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF WHAT YOU, NATION, SHOULD DO, I DID THIS BY MYSELF AND NO ONE SAW ANYTHING.
ARM YOURSELVES IN GROUPS OF 30 IN EACH NEIGHBORHOOD AND DO THE SAME.

Tincho Elano La Muerte.
Ya estas en el umbral de la lokura muerte. Mucha novela de televicerdo te esta enfermando.
You're already at the threshold of insanity, muerte (death). All the soap operas from televicerdo [a combination of Televicentro and cerdo, pig] are making you sick.

5TO INFIERNO La Muerte.
ese es mi fuhrer yo lo vi cuando lo torturaba y lo mataba a hasta lo cogio. ese es mi fuhrer..
that's right mein fuhrer ["muerte" has a picture of Hitler for his avatar] I saw it when they tortured him and killed him and they even fucked him. That's right mein fuhrer..

Juan Lopez Anti-delincuentes
Dejenlos que arreglen sus cuentas que se exterminen entre ellos...para que vean de lo que son capaces esos mareros...Con este tipo de crimenes,los politicos como Juan _Robando seguiràn prometiendo seguridad para ganar votos en noviembre cuando no la supieron dar en 4 años.

Let them settle their accounts and exterminate each other by themselves...you see what these gang members are capable of...With this type of crimes,politicians like Juan Robando [Juan Orlando changed to Juan Robber] will continue to promise security to win votes in November when they couldn't provide it over these past four years.

D_Governator
Si es que están limpiando por favor usen bolsas de basura. Me imagino que todo turista internacional en aquel hotel que está en la distancia pudo ver este cuerpo. Esto no es una buena imagen de un país que depende del turismo y está en gran necesidad de inversionistas extranjeros.

If you're cleaning please use garbage bags. I imagine that all the international tourists in that hotel in the distance could see that body. This is not a good image for a country that depends on tourism and is in great need of foreign investors.

Estadista
Que bueno que ya empezo la famosa sombra a eliminar ratas, Y muy pronto los tigres empezaran a fumigar, y tendremos un pais limpio de insectos malignos.
It's great that the famous shadow has begun to get rid of the rats, and soon enough the tigers [a reference to the special Tigres military police force] will begin to fumigate, and we will have a country free of malignant insects.

animales
una cosa de ver no la copian pero para imitar brutadas colombianas y mejicanas si son la ley
that's something to see, not to copy but to imitate Colombian and Mexican brutality, if it's the law [not sure I got the translation right here, but I think it's a reference to the fact that this appears to be a police murder imitating the terror tactics of narcos, and not actually connected to the narcos who are famous for these tactics]

Tincho Elano
Un pandillero conduciendo un rapidito? Transportistas sean mas serios, dejen de poner la seguridad de las personas en manos de esas basuras. Y sus familiares dejen de mentir diciendo que no sabían que era pandillero.
A gang member driving a bus? Bus drivers, be more serious, stop putting people's security in the hands of those trash. And to the family members, stop lying about not knowing he was a gang member.

Santos León
Comenzó la revancha de un pueblo cansado y atropellado!!!
The revenge of a tired and beaten nation has begun!!!

no todo es malo
como necesita Honduras de un Fidel Castro en estos momentos, a Cuba le podran criticar mucho pero lo positivo no lo ven, alla no hay maras, ni impuesto de guerra, ni inseguridad tremenda en la calle, ni narcotrafico
How Honduras needs a Fidel Castro in these moments, they can criticize Cuba plenty but they never look at the positive, there are no gangs there, no war taxes, no tremendous insecurity in the streets, nor drug trafficking

Rudy no todo es malo
Por q nadie tiene ni un cinco no seas pendejo.
Because no one has a cent to his name don't be an asshole

Estudia historia Rudy
Y aquí estamos nadando en plata, tonto? tenemos una educación mediocre y una salud de infarto. La economía cubana esta así gracias al embargo estadounidense que se impuso desde el siglo pasado y que no cambio nada en la isla, de no ser por el embargo la inversión llegaría a Cuba y no dudo que seria una pequeña China. Ahora bien, por que los estadounidenses no aplican embargos a China, Rusia y países por el estilo? Rudy tu no eres mas estúpido porque no entrenas.
And here we're swimming in cash, idiot? we have a mediocre education system and health care that's a heart attack. The Cuban economy is the way it is thanks to the US embargo that has been imposed since the last century and nothing changes on the island, if it weren't for the embargo investment would flow to Cuba and I don't doubt it would be a little China. So why doesn't the United States apply embargoes to China, Russia, and other similar countries? Rudy you only aren't stupider than you are because you're not training for it.

Tincho Elano Rudy
Y vos le crees a renato alvarez?
And you believe renato alvarez?

Antimareros
Este no es problema de la policia estos mal nacidos se matan entre ellos despues de un 18 del mes aparese muerto un ms y despues del 13 es un 18 entre ellos es que se matan dejenlos que se maten esas lacras queremos jn Alvares Martinez que haga limpieza esta es una lacra menos mas los 6 de la rivera ya son 7 menos asi se van llendo estas lavcras apollemos a la policia para que eliminen estos perros odiosos queremos un escuadrlon de la muerte y que los eliminen a todos. Señores de los medios dejen de decir supuestos no miran ese monton de tatuajes que tiene esa palabra cae mal
This isn't a problem with the police these swine kill each other after the 18th of the month a member of MS will show up dead and after the 13th an 18th St gang member they kill themselves let these blights on society kill each other we want an Alvarez Martinez to do a cleansing this is one less blight on top of the 6 from rivera [a reference to another massacre yesterday] that are gone these bvlights we suporrt the police to eliminate these hateful dogs we want a death squad to eliminate them all. Señores from the media, stop saying suspected can't you see that load of tattoos, that word is offensive.

mas nunca Antimareros
alvarez martinez no era un combatiente de la delincuencia, era un asesino basura que seguia ordenes del embajador gringo john dimitri negroponte para matar a toda aquella persona de mentalidad progresista, estudiantes, lideres sindicales y todo aquel que pedia igualdad y justicia, esa basura de alvarez martinez lo asesinaron los mismos chafarotes, ojala este podrido ese basura y JAMAS queremos otra basura como ese o el sobrino oscar alvarez con el huelepedos de armando calidonio
alvarez martinez was not someone who fought against crime, he was a piece of trash murderer who followed orders from the gringo ambassador john dimitri negroponte to kill anyone with a progressive mentality, students, union leaders, and anyone who asked for equality and justice, that piece of trash alvarez martinez was killed by soldiers like him, hopefully that garbage has rotted and we NEVER want another piece of trash like him or his nephew oscar alvarez with that fartsmeller armando calidonio

Tincho Elano mas nunca
Esos asesinos nunca combatieron delincuentes, asesinaban y desaparecían a personas que querían un mejor país.
Those murderers never fought criminals, they murdered and disappeared people who wanted a better country.

MORAZAN el verdadero
Desde l momento en que se usa la violencia estatal para combatir el crimen, muestra la debilidad, la incapacidad y el fracaso institucional para hacerle frente a los problemas del estado, no se puede combatir la ilegalidad con acciones ilegales
From th moment that state violence is used to combat crime, it shows the weakness, the incapacity and the institutional failure to confront the problems of the state, you can't fight illegality with illegal acts

alex madrid MORAZAN el verdadero
Y quien te asegura a vos que estos eran policías, y si lo eran pues que bueno , el arbol que no da fruto que sea cortado de raíz y echado al fuego y punto
And who proved to you that they were police, and if they were well that's great, the tree that doesn't bear fruit should be cut by its roots and thrown into the fire and period

La Muerte. MORAZAN el verdadero
MORAZAN; ENTONCES ANDA A PONER EL KKULO VOS IMBECIL
MORAZAN; SO GO AHEAD AND GIVE THEM YOUR ASSSHOLE YOU IMBECILE

garganta de lata
Si la limpieza comenzó, pues en hora buena.
If the cleansing has begun, it's about time.

El Casaquero
Los que tienen la suerte de estar en los Estate Quieto, portense bien que nada les cuesta! Y haganse ciudadanos para que no los deporten.
Those who are lucky enough to be in the US [here referred to using word play as "the chill out"], behave yourself, what does it cost you! And become citizens so they don't deport you.

RTON
señores si quieren limpieza, empiesen x en congreso, CSJ, MP, la policia CUELGUENLOS TAMBIEN QUE ESTOS NOS HACEN MAS DAñO
people who want a cleansing, start w the congress, the supreme court, the public ministry, the police HANG THEM TOO THEY'RE DOING US MORE HARM

Tincho Elano
Y muchisimas gracias a los que aquí hicieron justicia, sigan así que el pueblo los apoya.
And many thanks to those who did justice here, keep it up the nation supports you.

elena taveras
DIOSANTO ENQUE NOS ESTAMOS COMBIRTIENDO QUE ORROR SOLO NOTICIAS MALAS SE MIRAN DE HONDURAS,DIOS PONE MANO SOVRE HONDURAS TU ERES EL UNICO QUE PUEDE AREGLAR ESTO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
MY GOD WHATHAVE WE BECOME HOW HORIBLE ONLY BAD NEWS IN HONDURAS,GOD PUT YOUR HAND OVR HONDURAS YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN FIX THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Carlos
POR FIN ALGUIEN ESTA ACABANDO CON ESTOS MALDITOS PANDILLEROS....ASI HAGAN CON TODOS ELLOS.
FINALLY SOMEONE IS FINISHING OFF THESE DAMN GANG MEMBERS....DO THE SAME WITH THE REST OF THEM.

ryben
que bueno, excelente, felicidades,
what good news, excellent, congratulations,


A week ago another friend called to ask if I wanted to buy any of his uncle's furniture. His tíos had decided to go to the U.S. because the gang taxes were getting too high and the threats too frightening.

Every day we hear gunshots from my house, but Tegucigalpa's an echo chamber so I'm never really worried about their being that close by. I don't feel afraid. But I've been having trouble sleeping, and my gut does something funny when I hear a series of them, especially in the middle of the night. I've learned to tell the difference between firecrackers (which enjoy a popularity that is confounding to me, given the collective PTSD around gunshots in this country), cars backfiring, and gunshots. In all my years coming here I never quite got it until now. Somehow my two-year-old daughter, who hasn't to my knowledge had much if any exposure to death porn or death itself, seems to understand. She has taken to covering her ears (like she does with any loud noise) and saying to me with great concern, "¿cuchaste?" when there are gunshots.

While I really haven't felt afraid, I wondered last month if I had become ill with susto after a series of deliberate gunshots that sounded closer than usual woke me up at 2am. POP POP POP. POP. POP. I did feel like my soul escaped that night, and I don't know if it has come back.

There's nothing like so much death to make you feel religion, but then again I've always been something of an animist. If Omar Antonio Cáceres Contreras (45) believed in a heaven, or a reunion with loved ones who have passed on, or any kind of postmortem peace at all, I hope he has found it.

Comments

Honduras se hunde más y más.

Honduras se hunde más y más. Siento una mezcla de frustración, furia, tristeza, con todo lo que ha sucedido al golpe. No he regresado desde entonces, por esa razón.
En cuanto a los comentarios que se hacen en los medios, he decidido, no prestarles más atención. Es cierto que pudieran ser una especie de termómetro, pero he llegado a la conclusión de que en muchos casos no son más que cinco desocupados que se pegan de un tema cada día a trolear (el fenómeno es global). Además uno se llena de rabia que no sirve de nada. Por salud mental, te recomiendo ignorarlos, suficiente hay con la realidad. Donde sí encuentras a los que sirven para medir, es en la redes sociales... ahí andan los "muy educados" golpistas por ejemplo, que sin vergüenza ahora culpan a Lobo de todo mal en el país, (limpiándose así ellos de toda culpa...) un poco despistados de a quién recomendar, pero con la seguridad que les da el saber, que son los que tienen la sartén por el mango. Por salud mental también deberíamos ignorarlos, pero a esos sí los considero peligrosos o al menos, termómetros del poder, de los poderes. Lo triste, lo frustrante, es la confusión, la ignorancia.
Te deseo lo mejor, en todo caso. Fuerza y valor.