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Honduras and Venezuela: Two Shared Histories, One Common Struggle

By: Elena Toledo - @NenaToledo - Mar 5, 2014, 7:19 pm

EspañolI first realized it was time to better understand the reality of Venezuela in 2008, when the Castro-Chavista regime of Hugo Chávez began interfering in Honduras. As a Honduran, something told me that my country could potentially go down the same path.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t wrong. I began to follow current events in the South American country, and given my political naivety at the time, I was reluctant to believe much of what I read. However, I soon discovered the flip side of the coin.

In 2009, Honduras was on the brink of falling into the clutches of Socialism of the 21st Century through former President Manuel Zelaya. At that time, the people of Honduras began to acquire a clear image of what would happen if their sovereignty were ceded to this ideology. We could still count on a free media to report without censorship, as well as an independent judiciary, and it wasn’t long before members of civil society began to organize and raise their voices to reject socialism in our country.

Hondurans were waking up, and on June 28, 2009, Honduras’s institutions delivered the highest level of rejection to “Zelaya’s project.” The armed forces executed an arrest warrant by the supreme court against the president, which led to a constitutional succession called an “executive coup” by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Abrupt changes like what took place in Honduras do not happen without repercussions. Five years after the shift, the country is just beginning a process of social, political, and economic reconstruction. This has come only as people from each of those sectors have understood that the process of reconciliation must be on a platform of democracy.

Today, from a rebuilding Honduras, I see Venezuela in a bloody fight against a 15-year dictatorship, which has now become full-blown tyranny.

However, as always, history repeats itself. Just as in the lead up to the coup in Honduras in 2009, the international community remains complicit in its silence regarding Venezuela, drowning a people while they demand their right to live free. Neighboring countries continue to back a government that has lost its legitimacy — if it ever had it any to begin with. They say nothing of a disarmed populace that has hit the streets, knowing they face brutal repression, media blackouts, and crushing censorship.

Honduras, Venezuela, and all other countries that have been affected by this farce called Socialism of the 21st Century are united by a common concern. These nations have had their most humble people deceived by politicians through the promise of a socialist paradise: the voiceless are meant to feel heard, but the demagogues only offer unrealistic and impossible solutions.

The key to this populist agenda has been to charm the ears of those who are tired of hearing the same rhetoric from the wealthy political class. The deceivers still believe these same old methods will work today, but the entire system is based on an illusion that will never materialize.

Their talk of “the people,” the speeches, the sophistry — they’re all nothing more than self-serving means to gain power and personal wealth. For proof, we need only observe our brothers and sisters in Cuba, desperately trying to escape the “island of happiness.” Everyone leaves; no one goes back.

Those of us who have shared in a similar experience knew that this moment would come for Venezuela. A tyranny does not respect the rights of citizens, let alone the lives of brave young people who tirelessly march in the streets to demand what has been stolen from them.

The polarization of society in these times of unrest is an obstacle that must be faced in the present and the future. To depose of a tyrant is only the first step toward liberation. The next steps will be to rebuild society, and Venezuela may take many years to achieve this.

After one of the worst crises in its history, Honduras today is on a path toward democracy. While far from perfect, it is working to improve. As Venezuela fights to restore liberty, it will also have its share of growing pains. Even if it lacks the support of other regional governments and organizations, they have the support of the people of Latin America who believe in liberty and democracy as the only true path toward prosperity.

Translated by Guillermo Jimenez.

Elena Toledo Elena Toledo

Educator by trade, social-media apprentice, activist for a democratic Honduras, and free thinker. Follow her on Twitter @NenaToledo.