April 24, 2007

Psst! Give me gas money

We were listening to a radio program the other day while we were painting in the garage. As usual, people were calling to complain about roads not being repaired, politicians not doing their jobs, being cheated by a business, etc.

One call in particular was sad. It was the president of a patronato. A patronato is similar to a homeowners association. Like in the U.S., some such organizations are very strong and have some influence with the politicians. We definitely need more and stronger patronatos but they aren't easy to organize.

In this case, the local government had promised to repair some roads in this colonia (neighborhood). After years of waiting and false promises, a municipal official told the patronato president that they could now do the work but they had no money for gasoline for the equipment. This is typical and true of most government organizations. It's not unusual to have to pick up a city or other government official to take them somewhere to do their job, sometimes even police.

So the president, saying "No hay de otra," (There is no other way), took up a collection from the residents of the colonia for gasoline and turned it over to the city official (I wish I could remember his name).

Ha ha! Now the equipment is in Jutiapa (a town many miles away) and all his neighbors think that the patronato president is a thief.

No good deed goes unpunished in Honduras!

Here are the lengths that one town went to in order to force the government to pave their roads as long promised:

Pretty impressive. Did it work? I don't know. They did get another promise.

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