It is only 2 days until the Honduras elections… and you would be pretty clueless to not know it. You can’t go anywhere without seeing about a hundred posters of different candidate’s faces. You can’t go on a bus without hearing a song about a candidate. You can’t sit with a group of Hondurans without the conversation quickly steering to who is going to win. It is drastically different to our approach to politics in the UK – in the UK we argue about who is the worst and often struggle to have much passion for any particular party, whereas in Honduras they support a party with an unrivalled passion and insist their party should win. In the UK it is also a social taboo to ask someone who they are voting for… which leads me to always ask people cautiously who they are supporting, but that is quickly followed by confident cheers for their chosen party and a list of reasons why the other parties are wrong. I was driving somewhere with my host mum the other day and we went past a campaign tent of her party with a big picture of their leader waving in the wind and my host mum honked her horn as we went past and screamed ‘wooohooo’ out of the window as the campaigners whooped back at her. Can you imagine a David Cameron tent surrounded by people cheering? Or Ed Miliband… Nick Clegg maybe? I didn’t think so. It is so different here but it’s a lot more interesting. Even though I’m not supporting a party and I will have left Honduras by the time the new president is in charge, it is hard not to get caught up in it and get apprehensive about who is going to win.
Yesterday I was out with my project when about 8 of the staff started to have a heated debate about their respective parties – half were supporting Villeda (the Liberal party) and the other half Xiomara (the new Libre party – although they were saying her husband’s name, Mel, as he was the previous president of Honduras who was exiled in the 2009 coup). The conversation got pretty heated with a couple of people walking off in the middle – but as soon as the conversation was over everyone was friends ago. It is crazy to watch. And today everyone in my project went for lunch together and on our walk back to the office we saw the following painted on a wall…
Obama is in the middle with the faces of all of the presidencial candidates around him – the main 3 are Villeda (on the far left), Xiomara (to the right of Obama with her hubby Mel Zelaya) and Juan Orlando on the far right. The caption below says “Todas/os comen en la misma mesa del senor” – which means “They all eat at the same table as the sir” and below is the date of the elections. Basically, it is saying that it doesn’t matter who wins as all the money Honduras has comes from the US and therefore the president will be fed by Obama, regardless of whoever wins on Sunday. There was a huge crowd gathered around this picture with everyone debating it. Seriously, Honduras is fascinating.
The atmosphere has also become quite apprehensive as the elections approach – we have been recommended by ICYE to stay indoors on Sunday and, if we do venture out, to make sure we wear nuetral colours not associated with any particular party. A friend told me her payday was today, 2 days early, so that she could buy supplies like food and water, in case something happens and people can’t leave their houses. I am going to the north of Honduras with a friend to visit his family – when I told someone at my project this, she looked so worried and made me promise to send her regular updates that I’m OK on Sunday. Obviously from all of the build up I’ve seen and how passionate people can get about the politics here I know it will be a tense day on Sunday, but to me… it all just seems a bit crazy. Hopefully the actual day will be a lot calmer than some people are predicting. One of my friends even told me that she was sure if Xiomara wins that she won’t last a day and she will be taken out of the country, much like her husband 4 years ago. I will keep you all updated next week…!