ESTA ES SU CASA--OCTOBER 2009
Peace Sells...But Who’s Buying?
On September 21 President Mel Zelaya, ousted in a coup on June 28, crept back into Honduras on little cat feet, hitching about 15 clandestine rides from El Salvador, and popping up like a Jack-in-the-box at the Brazilian embassy in the very heart of Tegucigalpa, igniting a frenzy among his delirious fans. For a couple days riots ensued, as the “Resistance” and the police beating them away re-staged the 1969 Rolling Stones Altamont concert hosted by the Hell’s Angels, for your viewing pleasure. After weeks of neglect, Honduras shot into the headlines again. The “interim” President, Roberto Micheletti, said, “Good for you, Mel--you’re under arrest,” and he told Brazil to hand him over. He toyed with the idea of going in after Mel, then said, “He can just stay there for 5 or 10 years,” then he invited Mel to “dialog.” All this within the first 24 hours.
And then a little miracle happened. With practically no warning and less planning, the four presidential candidates (‘los presidenciables’), who, despite representing four different political parties, have been campaigning more or less in tandem like the Four Musketeers to present a united front for the elections scheduled November 29, jumped on the invitation to dialog. They met with Micheletti at the presidential palace, and then just rode over to the Brazilian embassy and dropped in on Mel. I tell you, I could hardly believe the pictures--back-slapping, hand shakes, smiles and hugs all around. It looked like the Cardinals clubhouse after clinching another championship. Some of these guys have threatened to kill each other in the past!
Things had looked very grim, with Mel getting sort of kooky, claiming “they” were poisoning him with radon gas or something and hiding Israeli assassins in the bushes. But this scene was a delight. Now, if it can just get our country back on track. Everyone agrees the elections are the only solution to the crisis, but lately there has been zero interest in voting, it seemed so pointless.
Then, suddenly, another turn, for the worse. Previously so proud of the freedoms he “preserved” by deposing Mel, Micheletti went a little crazy in the head á la Dr. Strangelove and decreed martial law--no assembling, no dissenting, no talking, no warrants, no warning. Not a lot different, really, from the police-state tactics in the streets of Pittsburgh during the recent G-20 Summit. But even Micheletti’s loyalists think he’s lost his mind. He’s certainly lost his trump card, his vaunted legality (see next paragraph). Panicked, the ‘presidenciables’ abruptly changed their tune from “We Are the World” to Megadeth. They fell all over themselves to condemn this latest threat to “democracy,” that is, to their own slim hope of legitimacy. Micheletti, for his part, said the crackdown was necessary to counter Mel’s continuing calls for “revolution.” Indeed, when Mel sounded the alarm for “the final push,” even his host President Lula of Brazil cautioned Mel to simmer down. And the U.S. State Department advised that Mel’s dramatics were “foolish.” Then, another little miracle: Micheletti quickly repented and promised to reverse the restrictions, begged forgiveness of “the people,” and he sent Lula a “big hug.” Jim Carrey plays more stable characters!
A legal study just published by the U.S. Library of Congress found Mel’s removal from the presidency constitutional, according to Honduran law, though not his removal from the country. You know, some readers have been confused by my reports--the result both of my glancing blows and even more because of the insane situation--but let me summarize. Unlike the U.S. constitution, some articles in the Honduran constitution cannot be amended, especially its strict one-term limit for the president. Furthermore, the constitution declares even the attempt to amend this provision an act of treason that automatically separates an official from their office. Mel forced the issue when he insisted on a sham balloting scheduled for June 28 to extend his term. The Supreme Court judged that Mel had crossed the line and they ordered his arrest, for treason. The army grabbed him and flew him out of the country. So the presidency was vacant, and Roberto Micheletti, president of Congress, next in constitutional succession (Honduras has no Vice-President) was sworn in. So there you are. Easy as pie. Very neat, on paper. Now, back to the real world, where, as the protesters at the G-20 in Pittsburgh would have noted, the poor should have had their say, too. In fact, conditions are so desperate here that maybe all the poor will say, “I’m going to America!” You already have a million Hondurans up there, what’s a few million more? Very inviting, especially with “Obamacare” in view...!
I’ll tell you who was right in the middle of the mess--a very pregnant Maricela, who went to Tegucigalpa for a check-up the day before Mel’s lightning-strike return and was trapped in the chaos. No buses, no cabs, nothing but a 24-hour curfew for days on end, and no appointments kept at the hospital. This is her seventh pregnancy, so she knows how that goes, but it’s the first one where she’s had to dodge tear-gas canisters. Here I am holed up with Chemo in our bunker in Las Vegas, and there’s Maricela out there risking her life! With diabetes and high blood pressure, she really needs some careful monitoring for the baby due in December, who she “knows” is a girl (seven kids gives you some authority, no doubt). She plans to name her Teresa--for Teresa Jorgen--and Mariana, for my sister Mary Anne, who died, you remember, last April. Sometimes you have to wonder, what if we could just keep politicians like Mel and Micheletti barefoot and pregnant and out of sight...? Or, to take it from the other angle, why isn’t Maricela president of Honduras? A mother, instead of a...”mother”...if ya know what I mean....
After months of frustration with my short-wave radio, I finally thought, Podcasts! I found some of my “favorites” on iTunes, including Alex Jones, the nuclear yellow-cake of talk radio, just in time to find him sling-shotting actor Charlie Sheen into the 9/11 conspiracy debate. Did you know that the planes that hit the Twin Towers were drones? This all sounded more consequential when it was the only broadcast I could get on the radio as I drifted off to sleep. On an iPod in the cold light of day, I want to scream, but I guess it keeps me young, the blood circulating, you know, when it isn’t curdling. Charlie Sheen wants Obama to re-open at least 2 and 1/2 investigations, because 9/11 was “an inside job.” I don’t know about 9/11, but Honduras is certainly looking like a “globalist” conspiracy. How else can you explain this “false flag” of self-inflicted wounds, pulverizing the country under cover of “restoring” us to “democracy”?
September 15 is Honduras Independence Day. Some independence, huh? But I guess we’re probably more independent than ever--the whole world hates us! Isolated and shamed like an abortion in the basement, like Jaycee Lee Dugard--before her rescue. Because of the “crisis,” the teachers and other unions declared the day a dead letter, but, you know what, they do that every year. Big celebrations are supposedly a boon to businesses--students dress up for parades, new band uniforms and outfits, candy and other goodies shared at school, big sales events at all the stores and malls, decorations and extravagance throughout--so to “punish” the oppressors, the unions try to shut the day down like the Grinch on Christmas. Such dryness is naturally doomed. Mindless or not, folks will celebrate, even in adversity.
At our school in Las Vegas, a compromise. No parades or marches, but a whole morning of dances, dramas, and diversions with a “cultural” theme celebrating our heritage. Elvis was helping with the sound and music, and at one point, when a cute couple of second-graders performed, he jumped on his cell phone to call me--I was in the back of the crowd. “Get some pictures of Dorisell!” I hurried closer to the edge of the grass and started snapping away, but I thought, That little girl is not Dorisell. Did I misunderstand, or Elvis doesn’t even know his own kid? I took at least 40 pictures of the little couple anyway, and they got a nice hand. It was not till after the whole morning was over and Flor the principal told all the students to report to their classrooms, where the teachers had little bags of candy for them, that I went to Profe Nancy’s second-grade, where Chemo is a classmate with Dorisell, and saw Dorisell, in little black boots and little gray pants, and a little boy’s shirt, and a big mustache in her hand, and it hit me. Dorisell was the boy! Dorisell was the BOY!! I felt like I’d just read the last page of the new Dan Brown novel. The rest of the day, I just kept telling people, Hey, did you see Dorisell in the presentations this morning? No? Yes, you did! She was the boy! Dorisell, even at 7, is such a pro. She just did her job, she wasn’t looking for any celebrity. I could not get her excited by her triumph, even when I “slideshowed” all 40 pictures on my laptop for her. Later, Dora explained that Profe Nancy had, of course, wanted one of the second-grade boys for the dance, but none of them could, or would, learn the steps--and we all looked at Chemo. “Who, me?” Now, Chemo does love to “move,” when he’s got his music going, and I would have loved to see him take this leap forward, but you have to congratulate Dorisell for her showMANship!
Dorisell’s big brother Elvis, Jr., danced, too, with the folk dancers, but I could recognize him all right. He is a boy and he danced a boy. Other kids performed various skits, including a take-off on “Laura,” a TV talk show like Jerry Springer. But, again, cross-dressing, with an eighth-grader, Jonathan, as Laura. Now, that is a brave 14-year-old!
But the most moving performance was one not intended for applause at all, and I did not get a photo of it, either. Tomas Cruz, a young teacher from the very poor village of Pueblo Nuevo, who has appeared in these chronicles before when he got his a job at age 18 teaching first-graders, sang the National Anthem in Tulupan, an indigenous language. It was moving not only because of its strange and exotic sounds but even more so because of its unspoken pleading for inclusion of a forgotten people, the Tulupan Indians, lost and ignored in the mountains ever since their land became our land, “la patria.”
So September 15 was big, but I was even more excited about 09-09-09, not because I play the lottery, but because it was Chemo’s birthday. He picked out new clothes at Juanita’s store, including new shoes. It’s not just a birthday present, it’s practically a necessity. Chemo has a hard time getting dressed sometimes because he gives his clothes away. He gave pants and a couple shirts to his brother Marquitos when we visited there in July. He’ll measure a kid with a pair of his shorts and say, “These’ll fit you.” He’ll hold up a pair of not-so-old soccer shoes and give me a questioning look and point to the kid beside him. I’ll nod Yes. What am I supposed to say? I think of Fr. Mychal Judge, the first official casualty of 9/11, who apparently never got all the way home with the clothes he left the house in, because he’d’ve given something away to the poor. I long to be that simple, and I guess I’m glad that Chemo already is.
For Chemo’s big day we had a huge Carolina cake and a party on the roof. It was sort of hot, so we crowded into what shade there was. But there were no complaints, especially when Chemo cranked up some new music I had just downloaded for him. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention we got up at 5:00 in the morning to play “Las Mananitas,” the traditional birthday serenade. I played it as loud as I dared at that hour, but Chemo would not wake up. He just rolled over, even after four repeats, and he didn’t remember a thing the rest of the day. Imagine! Sleeping like that! (Like father, like son, you’re probably thinking....)
Chemo turned 15. That’s remarkable. I can’t help thinking back to last year, when he celebrated his 14th birthday in Tegucigalpa just before his open-heart operation. We spent that September 9th scrambling for blood donors, the longest day of my life, till September 12, that is, the actual day of his operation. A century passed between 2:00 and 6:00 p.m. as I waited for him to live or die, under the knife. Well, he lived, didn’t he? And a year later his gaping scar is no more than a chalk line on his chest. Maybe the wound festering in Honduras can heal as surely. You prayed and carried Chemo into life, can you still remember us, till justice come? And by the way, I haven’t seen Chemo’s new birthday shirt since his birthday. Not on Chemo anyway.....