How coronavirus is affecting Honduras
8 July 2020
Honduras is one of the poorest, most unequal countries in the world. In recent years, public services have been privatised, and the national budget for healthcare has been cut.
Defending human and environmental rights is a long-term mission for our network of local experts in Honduras. Before coronavirus struck, there was an alarming increase in ‘extractive projects’ – mining, intensive farming or logging – that threaten the environment.
Father Ismael Moreno (commonly known as Father Melo) is the Director of ERIC-Radio Progreso. Your donations fund this Church organisation which works to defend human rights and which has been raising awareness of coronavirus during the pandemic through its radio broadcasts.
We spoke to Padre Melo about what’s happened in Honduras since coronavirus struck and what his hopes are for the future.
What do budget cuts mean for communities facing coronavirus?
“This means that when a pandemic comes, we find ourselves in a very vulnerable situation. This process of privatisation means that those who are sick have reduced access to medicine and hospital treatment. [The condition of] medical equipment in hospitals is getting worse.
"We are condemned to live in confinement for many weeks. 70% of the population works in the informal sector. They must stay confined because of lockdown and therefore lose their source of work. The disease combines with another factor, hunger.”
What are the human rights issues in Honduras?
“I want to tell you, my friends, that these extractive projects mean the continuous destruction of the environment.
"More than four years ago, the indigenous and well-known leader Berta Cáceres was murdered for protecting rivers. We are experiencing an attack on nature, an absolute disregard to nature as our mother.
"The rights of communities in Honduras, particularly those in the countryside, are also being threatened, their property is being threatened. People are threatened by violence, drug trafficking and repression, especially young people. Therefore, their main heroic task is to survive.
"One of the challenges is how to achieve a model of living well where communities can remake their lives in their own land, here in Honduras."
What are your hopes for the future?
“I talk about building a model of well-being or as it is said in South America, a model of “living well” (buen vivir).
"A commitment by humanity to itself based on the love of community, the love of the land, the love of planting, the love of health and the love of education. This commitment to humanity is understood as intimately linked with nature and is understood as a gift from God.
"We must invest in the land, in planting and in the community. We need to invest in education and health so that the people of Honduras do not have to permanently migrate to other countries.
"We must defend the rights of communities, defend the lives of young people and women who are permanently threatened. The Church must help with this. We want a Church that walks alongside women, men, and young people.
"Here in Honduras we are very grateful for our very long relationship with CAFOD. International solidarity is key for us It helps us to raise awareness on human rights violations, corruption, and the pandemic."
What would be your prayer for Honduras?
"I would like you to help us pray together. We pray for our brothers and sisters defending human rights, may their lives be respected. We pray for the life of children. We pray that we may find a light to turn us away from corruption and impunity. We pray that the Church in Honduras remains firm, prophetic, credible and a comfort to our people. Finally, we pray together for peace in Honduras and for peace in Central America."