HONDURAS is the third poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere (behind Haiti and Nicaragua). It has an area of 112,090 square kilometers, (about the size of England, Tennessee, or Southern Alberta, (from Calgary to the US border). It has a population of approximately 7 million of which 43% are under the age of 14. Its population is made up of 90% Mestizso, (Indian & European mix), 7% Indian, 2% black, & 1% white. Its economy is based primarily in agriculture although the largest single source of income for the nation is payments sent home by Hondurans living abroad.
Honduras is not to be confused with Mexico. Certainly the people speak the same language, basically, and look most other like Latin American people, but there the comparisons tend to end. In contrast to the environment that cultivates small entrepreneurs in Mexico, the people of Honduras tend to display a different psyche, demonstrating less hope and passion (a broad generalization that contains many fantastic exceptions). Honduras needs to generate hope as much as it needs to generate opportunities, demonstrated by the fact that children tend to show the universal traits of excitement and a desire to experience new things in life when given the opportunity and seem to loose this passion as they approach adulthood.
Hurricane Mitch was a category 5 hurricane, (worst category), coming in from the Caribbean. It had winds of up to 250 miles per hour (400 kilometers per hour), and lasted 6 days starting on October 26, 1998. High winds and intense rains caused massive flooding and mudslides. Whole communities disappeared. Seventy bridges were either destroyed or permanently damaged. Approximately 12,000 people were injured, and 17,000 lost their lives. 2.2 million people were evacuated, (40% of the population), and 1 million were left homeless. Every area of the country was affected by the hurricane. Industry, agriculture, and the entire infrastructure was either damaged or destroyed. 250,000 homes are required to rehouse its people.
2009 Political Turmoil
Despite the international branding of the events of June 28th, 2009 by the international community as a coup, the evidences in Honduras reflect a different reality. Unfortunately, the president had turned against nearly every one of the public institutions in Honduras including the Supreme Court, the Congress, the Supreme Elections Commission, the Attorney General's office, the Procurator General's office -- failing to provide state funds as required and threatening to abolish them if they did not approve his desires. The decision to remove him was initiated by the Supreme Court, carried out by the military and approved by more than a 10:1 ratio in the national Congress. On December 3rd, per an agreement finally signed by the exciled president and his replacement at the insistence of the United States, the congress voted whether or not to reinstate the removed president. While the Washington press reported that 65 members of congress (a simple majority by 1 vote) chose to deny his reinstatement. The reality is that 111 voted against his reinstatement, 14 supported his reinstatement and 3 did not vote. Fortunately, since the general elections on November 30th, the country has returned to it's normal level of peace (still a violent country by any western standards). Lord willing, the nation will continue to awaken to the demand among the disenfranchised population for justice.
Even though much has been done in clean up, temporary housing, and infrastructure rebuilding, the homeless staying in refugee camps have a great need to have their own homes. They need to settle down, get jobs, and start living a "normal life" again. They were one of the poorest countries before Hurricane Mitch destroyed what little they had. As it says in 1 John 3:17-18, "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." The key is to direct our assistance in ways that are sustainable and do not create a 'society of dependence'
For a great site to find more information on Honduras, and Santa Rosa de Copán in particular, click here.