With a Political Deal on the Horizon, Hondurans Seek a Real Plan for the Future
Friday morning, Hillary Clinton praised what she called "an historic agreement" between de facto President Roberto Micheletti and deposed President Manuel Zelaya. Many have claimed the deal would restore Zelaya to power and end the worst political crisis in Central America in 20 years.
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But from where I sit in Tegucigalpa, Zelaya is still on his air mattress in the Brazilian Embassy and faces one very significant hurdle: the Congress still has to vote to restore him to power. And from my understanding of the agreement, both parties promised to abide by the Congress's decision, regardless of what it is.
One of the points the parties agreed on was that Zelaya give up his struggle for a constitutional assembly. While he may be barred from continuing the fight, the Resistance movement will not. While the world has been focused on the fight between these two leaders, the Resistance has retooled and taken on the quest for a new Constitution as their own. According to a poll released last week, 55 percent of Hondurans believe the Constitution should be amended to allow for reelection. This fight is not over.
Similarly, once all has returned to "normal" there is still the lingering problem of corruption, non-transparency, and the powerful elite. Honduras is facing economic meltdown, a looming food and water shortage, fast-rising energy costs, high unemployment, crippling government debt, and a host of other factors that could mean disaster for the poor. An economist I spoke with last night said that in 2009 alone the population living in poverty in Honduras will rise from 59 percent to 70 percent -- 70,000 new poor. The saddest thing is that as of this morning -- less than one month before the elections -- none of the presidential candidates had a document outlining their proposals for the country. None of the politicians have a plan. For that, you have to look to the people.
The grassroots Transformemos Honduras (Let's Transform Honduras) movement is confronting these challenges head on. Last week the organizers unveiled the 3X5 Campaign -- three changes in five critical areas that will pave the way for true country transformation. The movement is supported by the Honduran Catholic and evangelical churches, Honduran civil society organizations, and international Christian organizations such as the Association for a More Just Society, Save the Children, and World Vision. Members have hit the streets on a quest to collect one million signatures and e-mail addresses to hold the next president accountable to the plan and keep the supporters informed.
Honduras's needs run far deeper than a solution to this political standoff. Hondurans are tired of the Zelayas and Michelettis of the world. If this crisis has proven anything it is that change will come from the ground up, not the top down.
Andrew Clouse works with a Christian development agency in Tegucigalpa.