Tag Archives: politics

Election Day in Honduras

“Ay, que susto!” says a woman walking away from the polling station, as a sad looking baby horse nudges her from behind. The owner must have allowed it to wander off, with all the hubbub around the election here.

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We could hear the voices and music from early in the morning, and now that we were outside the walls of the compound, I could see that in front of the polling station there were awnings set up by supporters of the different candidates.

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Eyeing the two heavily armed policemen at the gates, I questioned whether I should be hanging out outside on the street at all. The girls from the home had taken their identity cards out on their arrival at the gate of the polling station, and I had assumed that I just wouldn’t be allowed in.

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I stood on the pavement, leaning against a wall, drinking in my illicitly won freedom. Apart from attracting a few curious glances, the families rolled by me, on their way to the school which was being used to place their vote. One police officer eyed me in a friendly way, almost smiling. I felt conspicuous as the only woman on the street on her own.

After 10 minutes, the girls came out, Paola admonishing me for having my cell phone out. “They’ll take it from you” she said, meaning the locals hanging around on the street. I was given the phone as a gift, and wouldn’t have been too upset if someone had decided to take it from me, but I didn’t say anything. She was obviously uncomfortable here and she knew more about this place than I ever would.

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The director of the film had asked me to try to film a few interviews, and get the girls to say something on camera, but they were all reticent about saying anything, never mind being filmed while saying it. Luckily, Heather (a graduate from the home system who is now studying engineering, pictured below) was there, and started assertively filming them, asking them questions over lunch about what they thought about the election.

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The Importance of this Honduran Election

I woke up this morning to find a warning from the embassy for expats living in Honduras. Sunday is the election, and this year it’s even more of a big deal than usual. Here’s why.

June 2009: President Manuel Zelaya removed in a military coup.

November 2013: Iris Xiomara Castro de Zelaya (his wife) runs for president.

People who pro for Zelaya/Xiomara say:

He (Zelaya) was democratically elected, and tried to make things better for ordinary working people by raising minimum wage, as promised in his manifesto. He was removed by the elite of the country because he was a threat to them and their wealth.  He tried to change the constitution so that the Honduran president could run for a second term (like in the US), which would not have affected him, but future elected leaders.


People against Zelaya/Xiomara say:

The coup was a good thing for Honduras. They (Zelaya/Xiomara) want to move towards communism, and take money from Chavez. A vote for them is a vote towards a red state and would have disastrous consequences.

Whether the election is fair or not, the Honduran government are preparing for violence if Xiomara is not elected. All bars are closed this weekend, so people have few places to meet to plan strategic violence against the government forces, and all schools and business are closed tomorrow, with the message being “stay in your homes tomorrow”.

Usually, I watch politics (whether on the TV or being discussed informally in bars etc) as a silent observer. For me,all politicians are opportunistic liars and fat cats who, if not directly stealing from the people, are profiting from a position of power that they were most likely born into. I’ve observed how young people, with little money, tend to go left, while older people, with more money, seem to go right. This seems to be the natural life cycle of political belief.

It might sound radical, but I’m not sure if I even believe in democracy. Even as a small child, it was obvious to me how ridiculous television propaganda was, as if people can/should be influenced to vote for a leader in the same way that they are influenced to buy a certain kind of soap. Then with the advent of the Afghanistan/Iraq wars, I became entirely disillusioned with the whole process. Millions of people protested against Britain’s involvement in that war, yet “we” still followed the US army into that disaster.

Our own society’s metanarrative paints the picture for us. “Look at us” it says. “Look how amazing we are, and all the freedoms we have. We have a say in government, women are allowed to get educated, everyone has a right to a fair trial”, but it’s all a myth. Ordinary people are so removed from power, that having a vote is merely a symbol of “freedom” to placate the masses, and the rich buy their freedom more often than you can say “Animal Farm”.

Russell Brand and Revolution: A call to *books*


So, Russell Brand got a grilling from Jeremy Paxman last night, as the comedian/actor is about his guest editing a political magazine called The New Statesman. In the interview, he talked about why he didn’t vote in our current “broken” system, but he also did a very interesting thing. He said:

“I have more impact at Westham United, cheering them on, and they lost to city. Sad.”

One of the most unpopular things that I have ever said is “I hate football”. Not American football (which deserves a whole separate post), but good, old-fashioned f.o.o.t.b.a.l.l., which has nothing to do with a word beginning in S and rhyming with “rocker” (we invented English so the F-word is ours. Sorry NFL fans!)

Human beings seem to have this tribal need to form groups, to wear different coloured shirts, and shout a lot at each other, whether it’s at the stadium, or simply in the pub watching the game on TV. “We won!” they shout. “We lost” they cry. Yet who is really winning in this situation?

At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, I believe that without watching football, without that “opiate of the masses” used to fill time, people would be less distracted from what is really going on in our world today. Spectator sports like football, meaningless soap operas, facebook; I’m not sure it they were “designed” to with the idea of distracting us from the political system, but that is their current role. We are our own worst enemies. We chain ourselves in our ignorance.


The fatal flaw of democracy is that people are so easily tricked and manipulated. Elections and political posturing are seeming endless popularity contests, and whoever can lie most convincingly is deemed the winner. How politics and democratic institutions work is not taught in state schools in any meaningful way. If our leaders wanted an informed population, they would be teaching children from as young as 10 about parliament and how our government functions. But they don’t. Leaving us with an electorate who has a binary understanding of how the system works, often voting “red” or voting “blue” based on an inherited allegiance, rather an assessment of the policies and how they affect us today. You support “City” because your father did, and you vote for party X for the same reason.

It’s depressing to read the news because you feel like you can do nothing about it. The environment, global hunger, the powerless “underclass” in our own so-called rich countries… “I can’t even get my bank to refund the ridiculous charges. How am I supposed to do anything about this?” we think.

But there is an answer. Reading. Libraries. And talking. But not about footballl.

Universities do not hold the key to knowledge. What they hold is books, and what they organise is times for people to talk about those books and learn from each other, which they call “tutorials”. Professors need money to eat, so they don’t put their lectures online for free (unless they are like drug dealers giving free samples but then no more.)

It wasn’t so long ago that “the powers that be” did not want a literate population. If people could read for themselves, then they could start interpreting the Bible (the rule book at that time) for themselves, and that was dangerous. But now we have come full circle. Literacy levels are higher than ever before, yet we spend all our time feeding our own vanity on social networks, or filling our minds with the televisorial equivalent of junk food

So, if you didn’t get the opportunity to go to university, read. And if you went to university, read. Read as much as you can, because by reading you can learn more about the world than you can by your own personal experience; the act of reading allows you to contemplate both sides of an argument, walk a day in someone else’s shoes, and to learn how to make up your own mind without relying on someone else to form an opinion FOR you.