Honduran doctors have been on strike for lack of pay and medical supplies for weeks now (Lobo's response: contract scabs), and today Lobo declared a national holiday because the soccer team qualified for the World Cup in Brasil. Me, I've been trying to figure out whether or not I still get to teach my afternoon class on healthcare in the neoliberal order during the feriado. Here are some things on which I've been meaning to comment for a while.
There's been a concerted national (see below) and international effort by dangerous figures like Roger Noriega, who helped overthrow Aristide in Haiti, to destabilize the election process and discredit LIBRE here in Honduras, corresponding with a campaign of extermination against LIBRE candidates and leaders. LIBRE has been focused on keeping the campaign positive, and so the official reaction to all the targeted assassinations—close to 20 candidates at this point, according to a colleague who's been scouring the news to tally them (not counting non-candidate party leaders)—has been near silence. The latest LIBRE candidate murdered was Elvin Hernández, from Yoro, yesterday.
Another part of the National Party campaign (the only real competition against LIBRE) in Honduras is Lobo's attempts to blame internal problems on foreign agitators—reminiscent of the discourse during the coup, when Micheletti and followers made absurd claims about the hundreds of thousands of Resistance protestors being led by Venezuelan or Nicaraguan agitators. In the below pictured Heraldo cover story from last Wednesday (click for larger version) he blames unnamed foreigners for harming Honduras' image and ability to effectively fight crime by condemning human rights abuses and militarization when—according to him—there are no human rights abuses. This is also one of Noriega's main talking points in the above-cited AEI article, Honduras Under Siege.
Meanwhile, while LIBRE hides its dead to focus on the positive, the newspapers are exploding with campaign death porn to justify the main platform of the National Party candidate Juan Orlando Hernández, which is ever-more-repressive crime-control via military police. Almost ten years ago the Choloma bus murder and the spate of prison fires killing hundreds of gang members, which based on the available evidence were most likely orchestrated by National Party figures themselves, were used in an effort to elect Pepe Lobo on a tough on crime pro-death-penalty platform the first time around. Today, outrageously irresponsible reporting by foreign journalists who either don't understand the dynamics or are actively complicit with them, bolster the national media and National Party's fearmongering campaigns. Take for example this article from Reuters: Body hanging from Honduras bridge means Mexican cartels moving. Though it cites no evidence whatsoever to link the killings with cartels (unless imitated tactics actually count as proof)—killings that are more likely to have been carried out by the Honduran police—Reuters nonetheless feels confident enough to make the title's claim (and throws in the gratuitous "evidence" of one of the victim's alleged tattoos, as well as mentioning the Cachiros, with nothing to tie any of the pieces together). I wrote a month ago about similarly irresponsible reporting on drug violence in the Moskitia, and it doesn't look like international reporting is going to improve any time soon.
It turns out I do get to teach class after all, which I'm happy about, so I'll sign off momentarily. I've been criticized by well-meaning friends for writing publicly about my job, and occasionally about my whereabouts, because that will get me killed. While I have been blogging fieldnotes far less than I normally do (in part because of those same fears), at a certain (moving) point I see those critiques as part of the same continuum that will result in even my closest friends shaking their heads and saying "she should have been more careful" if I do get killed. What can one do, in a context of neoliberal terror, to avoid victim blaming, even before one becomes a victim? For a poor Honduran, nothing. For a wealthier Honduran, living in a gated community and avoiding the poor. For me, not coming to this beautiful country at all. When I do anything less, the blame piles on. But I am not asking to get killed any more than the 20+ Hondurans who get killed each day. Which reminds me (one final point). One other aspect of the National Party's campaign. Celebrating their great success in reducing crime under Lobo this year (and ignoring Honduras' rise to become the world's most violent country, a title it still holds with the reduction, under Lobo's rule). Not in actual numbers of homicides (those are going up) but in the # per 100,000 population:
Bust out the champagne.