Walking the Political Planks in Honduras

ACORN ACORN International
ACORN’s Tegucigalpa organizer, Erlyn Perez being interviewed for ACORNradio.org

Tegucigalpa    Tegucigalpa is the capital and largest city in Honduras.  The political situation in the country has been fraught for years.  The golispa or coup against an elected president though supported by the United States and many other countries divided the country sharply and on a continuing basis despite the protests that raged against the country over these actions.

For the more than six years of ACORN’s organizing in Honduras this has often defined the context despite the fact that we were organizing at the grassroots level in our communities and far from the nexus of power and conflict.  As the organization has grown in the San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa areas, its impact on local and civic politics has grown accordingly including seeing some of our members elected to city councils, mayors and even Congressional deputies.  At the same time every conversation with allies and our leadership is marked with caution over the tenuous political realities in the country.  Many outside observers, including the Carter center, questioned the returns in the last presidential election, especially when there was a blackout on news and balloting for more than 30 hours after the opposition appeared to be leading in the race.  But, as one expert told me, now that the ruling party has gotten past that election and has a full four-year term, it is more populist and less repressive.

For ACORN, particularly in Tegucigalpa, we have to build bridges to all parties in Congress.  On a national level for years we have been campaigning for regulations on remittances in order to lower the costs of these money transfers which are so critical to families with relatives in other countries.  Remittances are also a major part of the national GDP of Honduras as well.  On the local level support, for projects like the rehabilitation of the state orphanage to a community and recreation center (see yesterday’s blog), the financial commitment of the national government is central.

The organization finds itself walking the political planks, needing to build bridges to all parties while protecting ourselves as nonpartisan.  We sat in on a leadership meeting with the key officials and head of the Patriotic Alliance for Honduras.  The meeting was a get acquainted session.  Leaders outlined our views on remittances and pushed for the continued support for the redevelopment of infrastructure improvements in lower income neighborhoods.  Issues involving corruption, the protection of the ballot, and the suspicion our members had for politicians in general were also freely discussed.  The only commitment won was that the party leadership would visit the center site and come to meetings in the future with ACORN members to hear their concerns.

No one fell in the deep water, but everyone continued to keep their eyes on the waves.

members debrief after the meeting