Another Bloody Christmas in Honduras

Perhaps one of the strangest tragedies having to do with human violence in Honduras is the one that is foretold at least twice a year whenever hospitals in the country launch mass blood drives in preparation for a major religious holiday. This happens right before Easter and in the days leading up to Christmas. Public hospitals in Honduras, such as the Hospital Escuela in Tegucigalpa, and the Hospital Mario Catarino Rivas in San Pedro Sula, as well as the Honduran Red Cross, launched blood drive campaigns to restock their supplies in anticipation of the spike in accidents and murders that occur during this festive season.

We are in the days just after Christmas, and soon it will be the New Year. Everyone's partying or going to church. There's also an awful lot of people going to the hospital or the morgue. It's all very customary at this time of the year, because people drink too much and get on each other's nerves, and fight and argue more (and, of course, end up killing or injuring someone) or drink too much and then get in a car and drive (and, of course, end up killing or injuring someone) or drink too much while lighting fireworks (and, of course, end up killing or injuring someone).

According to statistics from the National Police, a total of 82 people in Honduras died violently in Honduras on December 23, 24 and 25. Of the total, 61 died from gunshots and 21 from either machete or knife wounds. Most of these cases were the result of excessive Christmas celebrations. Another 70 Hondurans were injured, and another 17 were killed in traffic accidents. The good news is that the number 82 represents 30 less victims than died violently over the same period last year. The bad news, of course, is that most of these deaths were probably avoidable.

During Christmas last year, I wrote a similar piece as this one, in which I highlighted the particularly sad (at least to me) deaths of two individuals -- newlyweds Maleny Gabriela Sánchez, 20, and Adonay Salgado García, 22. They had been married just two weeks earlier. Maleny and Adonay were run over by a drunk driver on Christmas Eve after having attended a church service in the village of Joya Grande. I haven't run across as gut-wrenching a story as that one this year, although I'm sure there may well be. But I'll note the deaths of Róger Gabriel Zelaya Arias, 39, and Rafael Mencía, 52, in the municipality of Guayape. Róger was killed by four bullets to the head. Rafael died from 10 machetazos.

I have found it tragically ironic that celebrations supposedly honoring an individual whose life was dedicated to teaching people how to love and forgive unconditionally, and thereby discover the secret to living in peace, are accompanied by so much suffering and death. The greater tragedy is that we've somehow grown to accept this as natural and unavoidable, rather than be outraged like we are when we perceive our human rights have been compromised.