Honduras | “…working the maze of hope in the land of illusory governance.”

A man walks through burning tires used as road blocks during a protest 6-25-19 in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The protest was carried out by public university students from UNAH, and included faculty, public, social activists, and even high school students–all opposed to the privatization of the education and health sectors.

 

Photographer Seth Berry is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this photo essay.  From the project ‘Anchuria’.  To see Seth’s body of work, click on any image.

 

Military Police attempt to stop student protestors in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Students and citizens alike plan to continue protesting until the government dismisses any and all legislation to privatize education and health sectors.

 

Transexual prostitutes are very common in Honduras, yet there is still an intense prejudice and hatred toward them. Many clients will pay for a service, then beat the prostitutes. Every year prostitutes are victims of drive-by shootings.

 

Two young boys show off their handmade assault rifles made from scrap wood, in El Centro, San Pedro Sula. They travel to the city center everyday with their mothers who sell gum, cigarettes, and snacks on the street.
About an hour later police shot tear gas into crowds of innocent people at the park while breaking up a protest. Just a day in the life for these boys and many young people across the country.

 

In 1904, the term “Banana Republic” was coined by the short story writer, O. Henry, in his collection of stories titled Cabbages and Kings based on his time in Honduras. Then, the term referred to a small, unrich, tropical country, whose economy relied heavily on the exploitation of foreign companies and investors to purchase commodities. This exploitation led to corrupt governments, foreign-funded coups, violence, and tremendous wealth disparity–all for the benefit of foreign interests and local plutocracy, which still exists today. O. Henry labeled his Honduras under the pseudonym of Anchuria. His stories told tall tales of mysterious adventure, eccentric characters, spectacles of third world conundrums, and a country teetering on the edge of revolution. Over a hundred years later, little has changed.

In 2019 Honduras— nearly 20% of the population lives in poverty, current legislation threatens to privatize health and education, military (trained by the U.S.) violently repress and kill protestors, and Juan Orlando Hernandez is being linked to narcotrafficking while in his illegitimate and illegal second term as president.

 

A young child stands at the edge of a “basurero”—a landfill—while his mother rummages for recyclables. In Honduras where recycling of aluminum cans, plastic containers, and copper is rarely practiced, it ends up in the landfills (or scattered in the river systems). Many locals that live near this landfill, in Villanueva, dig through heaps of garbage for a living. The average person can make about 50 lempiras a day or $2. A pound of aluminum pays 32 cents. Clear plastic: 8 cents and the gold of the basurero, Copper, pays $1 per pound.

 

The remnants of a protest–burnt tires–remain in the street hours after the chaos. This particular protest was due to a raise in public transit tickets. Ironically, a public bus, called “Rutas”, is passing by. In Honduras this is a common site and the passersby continue their life’s undaunted.

 

An old man walks down a steep road in the poor barrio of Buenos Aires, in the capital city of Tegucigalpa.

 

This is the backdrop of the images I have been taking over the past two years. I work to show the characters and phenomena of everyday life in Honduras, at once resilient and vulnerable. From elder fishermen to transexual prostitutes, student protestors to teargas-toting military police, this overlooked populous is working the maze of hope in the land of illusory governance.

Each day in Honduras seems like a surreal vaudeville of loosely connected stories, just as O. Henry’s Anchuria did. This ongoing series contains images of reality–truths of the continuance of repression and exploitation, but also, images meant to bring intrigue and curiosity to the nature of the land of Anchuria.

 

During the 10th anniversary of the 2009 coup d’etat in Honduras, the ex-president–Manuel Zelaya–who was unjustly overthrown with backing from the US and Narco trafficking elites, returned to the capital city to join the people in an odd celebration by the Liberal Party.

 

A young Honduran soldier stands watch over a small park in the capital city. Military police presence is very strong in Honduras where violence due to drugs and gangs is incredibly common.

 

Sadly, this is the state of many river systems inside populated areas of Honduras. Trash dumping is a rampant issue, that doesn’t seem to be improving, especially along the rivers where the country’s poorest people live in makeshift shanties, what locals call “Los Bordos”–The Edge.

 

All images and text © Seth Berry

 

 

See also:

Carpenter’s Quarters

By Seth Berry

 

 

 

 

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We are committed to publishing the human condition, the raw diverse global entanglement, with total impartiality.

 

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