San Pedro Sula ACORN organizes from two bases, one in Tegucigalpa, the capitol, and the other from San Pedro Sula, the industrial powerhouse of the country. As part of our registration, we are required to have an Annual General Meeting. On one level, it’s sort of a pain, but it forces me to saddle up and get down there, and that’s a good thing, especially because sometimes these have been sparky affairs. For a long time, leaders in San Pedro Sula were slow in making room for leaders in Tegucigalpa to join the executive board and share power. Elections were scheduled that didn’t happen. Promises made that weren’t kept, that sort of thing, which mandated my presence to make sure everyone was listening to their best angels. All of that was pre-pandemic, so this meeting was calm and focused, allowing for an assessment of where we stand organizationally.
The meetings are always held at a restaurant in Siguatepeque, which is almost exactly at the midpoint between the two cities. Over the years, I’ve driven back and forth many a time, which is a gift, especially since construction has finally finished on the CA-5, or as Google Maps calls it, the CA minus 5. Few foreigners may realize how beautiful the country is. Green mountains of all shapes and sizes crowd the landscape leaving San Pedro Sula until they rise higher in twists and turns as the kilometers and time rolls by towards Tegucigalpa on the four-hour journey. One of the treats has always been passing the lake before Siguatepeque, but this time there was another surprise. In Louisiana, sugarcane is serious business, that we all know somewhat intimately from constant observation. In Honduras in mid-December, the tassels were rising high from the cane stalks, and were blooming a gorgeous lavender, blowing in unison in the breeze. Not sure how I had missed this over the years, but it was stunning.
As the board assessed progress, it was clear that the pandemic had slowed growth and politics and the government, never fast, had now moved to a snail’s pace as well. Government documents were late getting to us, and now long overdue. A top priority for Honduras ACORN was integrating campaigns and demands in both operations nationally in order to increase the pressure we could apply. This was the main focus of the new president of the board, Raul Rodriquez. It quickly became evident that there was no disagreement, but that our organization in San Pedro Sula had not weathered the pandemic disruptions as well as Tegucigalpa. Membership had not been increasing. Excuses were made about dues. Our largest chapters in Choloma had not been meeting regularly. There were proposals to plant palm trees in Porto Cortez or have a few women try to bake tortillas as a project, rather than moving aggressively on school lunches, housing, violence and other issues central to the membership. We were listening too much to the weather there, and not enough to what was happening in the barrios. Monthly reports and calls had hinted at these problems, but an AGM with everyone around the same table makes them unavoidable and a priority.
All of which made the trip invaluable. Add in the sugarcane tassels and lush green mountains, and as hard as the work is in Honduras, it’s a gift to be a part of the growing process every organizing season as well.