It's difficult not to sympathize with United States Ambassador to Honduras Lisa Kubiske's implied criticism of President Juan Orlando Hernández's decision to opt out of the meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden and the presidents of El Salvador and Guatemala on June 20 in Guatemala City to discuss the crisis involving the mass migration of Central American children to the US. President Hernández chose to remain in Brazil to watch the World Cup soccer match between the Honduras and Ecuador national teams rather than attend the meeting. Instead, he sent a representative.
Ambassador Kubiske said, "I know that he is in Brazil and that they have a very important match today, but the country has priorities which also demand the presence of the head of state." She added that the child migrants issue "has the highest level of attention and sense of urgency of my government and the government of Honduras."
Mr. Hernández, who spent more than a week in Brazil for the World Cup, tried to defend his trip by arguing that it was not all play and no work. He said that he was also busy meeting with potential Brazilian investors interested in Honduras. It was the typical line of defense used by government leaders to help justify overseas junkets. And while it may be true, it's hard to swallow in a country like Honduras with such a wide range of crises, including the tragic exodus of its children due to fear and hopelessness.
The image of Mr. Hernández partying in Brazil while his country is in such turmoil is a distasteful one. But to be fair, Mr. Hernández was simply doing what all recent Honduran presidents have done, including Porfirio Lobo, Manuel Zelaya, and Ricardo Maduro. Mr. Lobo took numerous silly jaunts overseas, including to the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, at least two to kiss the hand of the pope in Rome, and New Year's vacations to Miami. Mr. Zelaya loved to ride his horses in parades in places like Nicaragua and get away for little rah rah reunions with Hugo Chávez and other ALBA presidents. Mr. Maduro disappeared for long stretches of time to court in Europe his eventual wife, the Spanish blonde beauty Aguas Ocaña... whom he later divorced.
Say what you will about Mr. Hernández, he is a hard worker who has an extremely tough job. He deserves a respite once in a while. But his breaks should always be modest and low-profile ones. He should've watched la Selección's miserable three-game performance on TV -- just like the rest of Hondurans. It would have sent an infinitely better message to the nation, and he wouldn't have come across as so tone deaf.
Really... a week dancing Samba while thousands of your children are walking north; while your hospitals lack basic medicines and equipment; while your schools are in disrepair, unsupplied and poorly staffed; while the paychecks of your public employees are regularly delayed; while most of your people lack clean water and basic sanitation; while your treasury is empty and your government is begging for more credit and debt pardons; while your country is under daily attack by gangbangers and drug lords. How do educated individuals consistently manage to get things so wrong?