Located in the heart of Central America, Honduras has in recent years experienced some of the highest levels of corruption in Latin America. Hondurans are characteristically warm and peaceful. But evidence of the Honduran Social Security Institute’s embezzlement of more than $300 million that was used in part to fund the campaign of President Juan Orlando Hernández has united the country against corruption and impunity.
Every Friday since May, thousands of Hondurans have taken to the streets with torches symbolizing the hope of the country, demanding an end to corruption and for Hernández to invite the United Nations to create an International Commission Against Impunity in Honduras (CICIH) similar to an anticorruption committee established in Guatemala that led to the prosecution of the vice president and several ministers and deputies.
The government of Honduras’ refusal to request CICIH is seen as evidence of the corruption of the current administration. Based on the commission’s success in Guatemala, protesters use the phrase “What is the fear?” to emphasize if there is nothing for the government to hide, there should be no fear to submit to CICIH investigation. Hondurans have protested against the president in demonstrations across the country and internationally in Miami, Washington, D.C., Madrid, Mexico City, Costa Rica and Berlin, among others. This is a historic moment for a small country that is demanding a change in destiny by purging the corrupt.
Led by a group of young Hondurans calling themselves Los Indignados (or The Outraged), the protesters have organized massive peaceful demonstrations to the U.S. Embassy, urging the U.S. to suspend funding to Honduras until there is assurance the funds are properly used. Protesters demand the installation of the CICIH, the dismissal of the deputy attorney general and an investigation into Hernández and the ruling political party of Honduras. Several members of Los Indignados staged a hunger strike outside the presidential palace in protest, willing to give their lives to the cause. The members of Los Indignados have risen without representation of any political party. They are young Hondurans who, regardless of age, political affiliation, religion or gender, together ask to purify the government of the corrupt system that has hijacked the country.
United under the slogan “They picked on the wrong generation,” the protesters carry torches as a symbol of the light of Honduras that the country cannot afford to turn off, putting a spotlight on the highest levels of government and hoping their cries for transparency become a reality. — Paul Zepeda Castro