There used to be a Spanish Honduras and a British Honduras, but when the colonial imperialists finally left, the latter became Belize and the former dropped the Spanish from its name, but retained it for its language. To find out what there is to know about any Central American country, where better to look than the CIA’s own “World Factbook”, a deliciously neutral portrait at all times (no, honestly, it really is).
“Once part of Spain's vast empire in the New World, Honduras became an independent nation in 1821. After two and a half decades of mostly military rule, a freely elected civilian government came to power in 1982. During the 1980s, Honduras proved a haven for anti-Sandinista contras fighting the Marxist Nicaraguan Government and an ally to Salvadoran Government forces fighting leftist guerrillas. The country was devastated by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, which killed about 5,600 people and caused approximately $2 billion in damage. Since then, the economy has slowly rebounded.”
Can you get more neutral than that?
Whereas Wikipedia, that well-known bastion of ideological prejudice and narrow-minded, jaundiced bigotry, offers a radically different account that is by no means neutral:
“During the early 1980s, the United States established a continuing military presence in Honduras with the purpose of supporting U.S. Government support to El Salvador, the Contra guerillas fighting the Nicaraguan government, and also developed an air strip and a modern port in Honduras. Though spared the bloody civil wars wracking its neighbors, the Honduran army quietly waged a campaign against Marxist-Leninist militias such as Cinchoneros Popular Liberation Movement, notorious for kidnappings and bombings, and many non-militants. The operation included a CIA-backed campaign of extrajudicial killings by government-backed units, most notably Battalion 316.”
Now is that not a libelous slander and a slanderous libel against the USA (not to mention its bad grammar and worse syntax)?
What we clearly need is balance, and where better to seek it than that most neutral of all media, the BBC?
“Military rule, corruption, a huge wealth gap, crime and natural disasters have rendered Honduras one of the least developed and least secure countries in Central America. Until the mid-1980s Honduras was dominated by the military, which enthusiastically supported US efforts to stem revolutionary movements in the region. Since then, civilian leaders have sought to curb the power of the military - with varying degrees of success. Some army officers have been charged with human rights abuses, but many have still to be prosecuted for violations committed in the 1980s. Honduran society is rife with economic inequality. Malnutrition, poor housing and infant diseases are widespread.”
Balance! Do you call that balance? And to think that tax-payers are subsidising this stuff.
Where, where can one go for an honest account of this beautiful little country? I asked my younger daughter, who has been there twice. She smiled, reminded me that she had only seen a tiny fraction of the country because tourists were advised not to visit any others (even and including and especially the capital, Tegucigalpa, which by all accounts is a cross between Belfast in the 1980s, the Gaza Strip today, and Johnny Friendly's little empire in Hoboken in "On The Waterfront"), and said no more.
So I asked the globe-trotter girls, who have been everywhere, and nobody more dauntless:
"Travel in Honduras can certainly seem unsafe. The first thing that stood out to us was the amount of machine guns displayed publicly. Even in supposedly safe and heavily visited Copan, with visitors ranging from backpackers to retirees, the sheer amount of armed policemen and private security guards on the main square and parked in front of banks was unnerving. If there is this much police presence, we thought, why exactly do they need it? Is it only precautionary? Or should we have taken out a life insurance policy in addition to our travel insurance?"
And then I realised, that the only truly honest place to go is to ask Hondurans themselves. Human Rights Watch did exactly that, and came up with:
"Honduras suffers from rampant crime and impunity for human rights abuses. The murder rate, which has risen consistently over the last decade, was the highest in the world in 2013. Perpetrators of killings and other violent crimes are rarely brought to justice. The institutions responsible for providing public security continue to prove largely ineffective and remain marred by corruption and abuse, while efforts to reform them have made little progress."
No, more bias, more agenda-driven propaganda by lefties in the spoiled affluence of Manhattan. Honesty. I simply ask for honesty. So I tried Amnesty International, but frankly they are no better:
"Human rights violations and abuses against human rights defenders, journalists, women and girls, LGBTI people, Indigenous, Afro-descendant and campesino (peasant farmer) communities continued to be a serious concern. These violations took place in a context where impunity for human rights violations and abuses was endemic and where levels of organized and common crime were high."
Somebody, somebody, please, paint me a portrait of the real Honduras, its natural beauty, its fine and charming people, its ancient monuments. What about the government's own website, honduras.com?
"Welcome to Honduras!"
A much better start. This looks really promising.
"Honduras is a vibrant country, brimming with clear turquoise waters, pristine beaches, lush jungles, breathtaking mountains, challenging rivers, and fascinating ancient ruins."
Yes, this is what I was hoping to read. Only then they go and spoil it.
"In addition to these tourist destinations and popular attractions, the country offers opportunities for business and trade. San Pedro Sula's “tax free zone” allows international companies to manufacture goods at attractive rates. Located at the very center of the Americas, Honduras operates ports in San Lorenzo and Puerto Cortes, which provides a thoroughfare between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and expedites the transit of merchandise."
Why do Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International and the CIA and the BBC not tell us that Honduras is a tax-haven as well? Who are they protecting? What else are they trying to hide? Only the Honduras government itself can be fully trusted to reveal the full and honest truth. Go Honduras!
Marks For: minus 7
Marks Against: 11
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