August 23, 2009

Honduras: Yes, we can!

Channel 10 news, one of the most respected and popular channels in Honduras, has a text message poll each night. Usually there are 3,000-5,000 votes on a normal night. More than 80% of the population have cell phones − yes, even much of the poor. The polls encourage votes by including a contest with a prize of L.15,000 (US $794) and other freebies for a lucky random caller.

In the first week or so after June 28, a special poll was held in which the prize was one million lempiras (about US $53,000). The question was:

Do you believe that we Hondurans are capable of getting Honduras out of this crisis through reconciliation and dialogue?

More than 34,300 people voted 'yes' − 96%
Only 1,500 voted 'no' − 4%.

This was a record breaking response in the history of their polls. They continued the same poll again the next day. I didn't see the final results, but with about 20 minutes to go, the vote was approximately 63,000 yes (95%) and 3,000 (5%) no. Spirits and confidence are high.

The next two polls were taken early on in July:

How confident are you that we Hondurans can get out of this political crisis?

Much 95%
Little 5%

Do you believe that the intervention of the USA will help resolve the political crisis in Honduras?

Yes 88%
No 12%

Unfortunately, by July 23, after threats by Hugo Chávez against Honduras were ignored by the USA, OAS, and UN, faith in the USA fell:
Do you believe, with the threat by Chávez, that the USA has abandoned Honduras?

Yes 84%

No 16%

While the curfew seemed to be one of the issues causing the most concern for people in other countries, in another Channel 10 poll (after about 10 days of curfew), viewers were asked, Do you agree with continuing the curfew?:

Yes 87%
No 13%

Why would they say that? Because crime is so high in Honduras. The curfew reduced crime and made people feel safer.

Honduran poll, 7/20/09
On July 20, after the talks in Costa Rica, viewers were asked: Did the Honduran government do right to reject the restitution of Mel Zelaya? (I don't have a photo of the final results on this one, but it didn't change much.)

Yes 94%
No 6%

Honduran poll 7/28/09On the one month anniversary of the ousting of Mel Zelaya, July 28, the following question was asked: After a month of the political crisis, how do you think the result of the destitution of Mel is?

Positive 90%
Negative 10%

Honduran poll 8/11/09
More recently, on August 11, viewers were asked: How confident are you that Hondurans can get out of this political crisis?

Very 90%
Little 10%

Honduran poll 7/31/09
On July 31, after severe road blockages by the zelayistas, the question was: Do you believe that the police have the duty to remove the protesters that are blocking the roads and highways?

Yes 94%
No 6%

Honduran poll 7/29/09On July 29, when there was talk of increasing sanctions against Honduras, Do you believe that pressure from the USA against Honduras is fair?

Yes 14%
No 86%

I have not witnessed such a feeling of self-empowerment among Hondurans in the 8 years that I've been here. In fact, I've witnessed just the opposite: a beat-down, 'what's the use', 'nothing makes a difference', 'we can't change it' attitude.

The economic reality may change, but right now, people are ready to stand up to the whole world, including the US, and say "Leave us alone! We know what is best for our country!"

I doubt that many people − outside of Honduras! − could have predicted that Honduras would hold out for this long. Here we are eight weeks later. Some may call that defiance or arrogance or stupidity. I call that self-empowerment and self-determination and I think that it is a very good thing for the collective Honduran psyche.

A few weeks ago, Hugo Chávez pledged to "overthrow" Roberto Micheletti. Micheletti responded to Chávez's threat on Honduran radio, saying, "Nobody scares us."

Hondurans are proud people. They like hearing things like this. Respect and dignity are very important to Hondurans and they feel that the world is showing them neither.

Continued insults only serve to solidify the resistance to world pressure.

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