Marcha de los sombreros, video and photos (and a wee bit of analysis)

[UPDATE: See today's post in the Honduras Culture & Politics blog, which provides a great analysis of the deceptive reporting in the Honduran media around struggles for agrarian reform and the economic issues at stake]

The "March of the Cowboy Hats" that took place on April 15th is a powerful symbolic show of a new kind of cross-class solidarity in Honduras. The sombrero, now inseparable in national and international political imagery with Mel Zelaya, is first and foremost a symbol of the campo, and by extension, the campesino.

That is why it was so mocked by the oligarchy, who saw it as a sign of his backwardness, and why it so endeared him with the resistance, who reinterpreted it in terms of his Honduranness—a political statement in solidarity with the hinterlands, where authenticity and tradition is always assumed to exist (you know, like in Peoria). There is also, possibly, an undertone of ethnic identification there, defiantly corresponding with his regional and ethnic outsider status from the Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Arab-descended elite.

But the leadership of the Frente was slow to recognize the leadership coming from the hinterlands, calling for march after march in Tegucigalpa in the months following the coup without paying much attention to fights going on outside their urban bubble (and it was something of a bubble, at least in terms of military and police checkpoints). This vanguardist model reflected deeply embedded beliefs about education and ignorance, which were repeated to me ad nauseum by Honduran friends with very good intentions but who didn't agree with me that most people don't need to be taught by scholars or better-educated urbanites that they are being oppressed. In my view, formal education in most cases does little more than provide people grist for their prejudices against people who lack it, and ideologies (like "democracy" as a noun, not a process) that prevent them from recognizing their own oppression when it slaps them in the face. (And yes, I'm a university professor). In any case, too many people in the cities thought of themselves as being in the front of the resistance, when in fact, much of the most important action was happening in the campo.

As the Aguán struggle has taken center stage, however, and through the profound debates that have been taking place within the resistance movement, there has been a shift. Rather than doggedly attempting to perform a bourgeois habitus (something I describe in my book, in the case of Alcoholics Anonymous members in particular) to improve their symbolic chances of individualized class advancement, members of the urban non-elite are today choosing instead to take to the streets. As they proudly don the very hats that only a year or two ago symbolized a combination of nostalgic tradition and ignorance, Honduran urbanites in resistance collectively demonstrate their cross-class, cross-geographic solidarity with peasants in resistance against an oligarchy that is now recognized as the common enemy, rather than a model to emulate. It is a remarkable sight.

Photos taken from the blog Lista Informativa Nicaragua y más (español), and the video (below photos) is from 1kalifa's youtube channel.