Christina’s offensive rumbled. “As an expert of International Affairs, you must know Iran-Contra Affairs scandal. How shameful it is for our government to actively participate in state terrorism and hide it from the public,” she said while referring to a 1980s political scandal in which then US President Ronald Reagan sold weapons to Iran and the proceeds were used to provide weapons to right-wing paramilitary groups in Nicaragua that went on to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity.
“What is becoming apparent is the personal support of Hillary Clinton to the present Honduran regime. It is not a hidden secret that the Clintons enjoy close relationship with Chiquita executives,” the young Floridan confided. “What I don’t understand is that why Obama included her in the cabinet in the first place when he promised us to have fresh faces in his administration,” an upset Christina asked.
Things got very clear by now. By Christina’s and Myrna’s accounts I came to know that this was not just another coup in Central America. It was rather an orchestrated and carefully planned uprising. President Zelaya was not overthrown in a matter of days as he has been urging for constitutional reforms since November last year. What really surprised me is the timing of this whole saga. While the world media is closely observing the events in Iran, the coup in Honduras stays to be one of the most under-reported event of this year.
“I thought the chapter of coups and counter-coups in Latin America closed once Bush and his company left the White House. I was wrong. There is no full stop for interventions. Just commas,” Christina exclaimed. She added that no serving or former president deserves to be expelled from his/her country without a fair trial. “I cannot believe all this happening when President Obama came with a pledge to drive the country in a new direction,” she moaned.
I turned my attention towards the young Honduran girl, Myrna, who was sat there silently. “I’ve got nothing to say as I do not know a lot about politics,” the 14-year old girl said in a soft voice when I asked her to join our conversation. Shyly, she added that she would like to become an activist like Christina and fight for the rights of her people. “She is an inspiration to me,” the young Honduran claimed while hugging Christina whom she affectionately calls her auntie.
“Ten years ago, a natural calamity wiped out the country’s vital infrastructure and crippled the economy. We had to leave our country as we had no food to eat or place to live. My parents returned to the country a few later but still live a difficult life,” Myrna started to speak out in a very gentle but firm tone. She added that around 70% of the Honduran population lives below the poverty line while 40% of the population is unemployed. “It is scary in our country as gangs deal in drugs with impunity and crime rate is very high. The prison population of our country is very high if compared to other countries in Latin America,” she added woefully.
“Did you know that 10% of our country’s rich own 50% of our country’s resources?” she poked a question. Another fact came in no time: “We are a nation of just around 8 million souls but 0.14% of the world’s 6 billion or so poor people live in our country.” Her stream of statistics kept on flowing. “Our environment is suffering due to poverty and government’s apathy. We are losing our forests due to demand for biofuels and mining. Our largest source of fresh water, Lake Yojoa has been polluted by mining companies that regularly dump toxic waste in the rivers. Supply of fresh water and fish is getting scarce day by day,” the little girl added.
Myrna showed me a long list of problems which she compiled for her school assignment. Christina also had plenty of cuttings of newspaper reports that documented in detail the small Central American republic’s big problems. While we were discussing these issues, Myrna was busy biting her nails. “How delicious are they Myrna?” I asked sarcastically referring to her nails. Christina couldn’t help but shout at her. “Are you ever going to get rid of this bad habit or shall I get your fingers chopped?” she asked the teenager irritatingly. While Myrna smirked, I had a broad smile on my face. “What’s wrong with you mister? Why are you smiling?” she interrogated to which I replied: “Well, I know a few bad habits of your establishment. I was wondering what punishment you would give to the people there,” I joked. Christina couldn’t help but burst into a laughter.