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Honduras: My Country Tis of Thee

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The Honduran people are as proud of their country as anyone else is of theirs. There is much of which to be proud. The Honduran people are blessed with one of the most physically beautiful and diverse countries on planet Earth, with pristine beaches, winding rivers, tall mountains, and lush farmland. Unexplored jungle. Lots of wildlife. Ancient Maya ruins.

The Honduran people are among the warmest and most genuinely kind, innocent and humble people in the world... and thus among the closest to what many sages consider spiritual perfection. With all their broken institutions and systems, the Honduran people are among the most resilient, innovative and adaptive people anywhere.

There is much for Hondurans to take pride in, but often this pride is a false one because (like in the United States with its myth of "American Exceptionalism") it tends to want to deny or ignore all the stuff that does not merit this feeling. In order to really begin to climb out of the deep, deep hole we Hondurans have dug for ourselves through decades of incompetent governance and citizen neglect and commence to solve our problems in earnest, we must first acknowledge and own up to our country's horrendous failures. Without doing this, we're just living in a fool's paradise. Here are just some of them...

Honduras: The country where you are lucky to have a job and really lucky if they pay you for it.

Honduras: The country where the average age of a first time mother is 15 and more than 80 percent of the births registered do not name a father.

Honduras: The country where nearly 60 percent of its people are poor but there is still enough money to produce 215 millionaires.

Honduras: The country that allows foreign mining companies to poison its rivers, streams and creeks with arsenic, cyanide and mercury in exchange for a few jobs and a little tax revenue.

Honduras: The country where 80 percent of the detected illnesses are caused by contaminated water supplies.

Honduras: The country whose single-biggest industry, by far, is remittances -- the money that its nationals abroad send back to their relatives and friends.

Honduras: The country where those who actually pay taxes make up only 1.9 percent of the economically active population.

Honduras: The country that celebrates the "Day of the Student" by giving students the day off.

Honduras: The country that accounts for about 17 percent of the people in Central America, but about 60 percent of all the AIDS cases in the region.

Honduras: The country where teachers are applauded for teaching the full 200 days required by law.

Honduras: The country where only 30 percent of all children go to high school and only 55 percent of them graduate.

Honduras: The country where nearly 50 percent of families are single-parent families.

Honduras: The country where presidents of companies have their photos taken for the newspapers for paying their taxes.

Honduras: The country where malnutrition rates can reach nearly 50 percent in rural areas.

Honduras: The country where more than 90 percent of the street children resist hunger by inhaling shoe glue.

Honduras: The country with about 12,000 police officers, 20,000 soldiers... and 70,000 armed private security guards.

Honduras: The country where about 10 percent of all children under 18 are working or living on the streets.

Honduras: The country with about 20,000 homeless children living on the streets and about 65,000 gang members.

Honduras: The country where about 30 percent of its children suffer from chronic malnutrition.

Honduras: The country where 1 percent of the agricultural producers control one-third of the best land.

Honduras: The country that threatens its doctors for striking because they have not been paid for months, but then proceeds to declare a work holiday for winning a soccer match.