I am on the last leg of my air flight home. My trip to Honduras is over. Last evening we had a farewell party at Radio Progreso with food and dancing. This morning, we thanked and gave gifts to the many staff persons who watched over us, prepared our food, and made us feel comfortable. At both events there were lots of hugs and promises of long term commitments to the people of Honduras.
Looking back, I know I will not forget this week. Some scenes are burned into my memory. I still see the group of young people forming a roadblock to register their protest against the fraudulent election. I see them facing some 100 heavily armed national and military police, many of the police wearing black masks. And then the sudden charge and the lobbing of teargas with the young people fleeing into the woods. Later I looked at one of the fallen teargas canisters and saw it was made in the United States.
My next memory is closely related to the first. After our meeting at the US Embassy, I spoke with a senior staff person and expressed my concern about routinely deploying some 100 heavily armed police with automatic weapons to confront small groups of young, unarmed persons. His only response was that not all demonstrations are peaceful. If he as a representative of the US Embassy isn't concerned about military repression, who will speak up for human rights in Honduras?
This was my fourth visit to Honduras. Each time I have been impressed by the people's spirit of joy and love. Speaking for the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, at the farewells, I promised an ongoing commitment to the people of Honduras. I plan to keep that promise.
Lawrence E. Couch serves as the director and lobbyist for the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.