Padre Melo, a courageous priest from Honduras gave, an experiential and insightful account about violence in Honduras at the Lily Pads Unitarian Church in Wakefield, RI. The talk was well received by dozens of people affiliated with URI as well as the local community.
Father Melo tested us about our awareness of issues in Honduras. He mentioned that he saw no news about Honduras in US newspapers during the last 10 days he has traveled through states, although Honduras continues to be the world’s most violent nation. Honduras, the tiny Central American country with a population of eight million people is located adjacent to Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador. According to Melo, more than 80% of the cocaine consumed in the US is being smuggled through Honduras. Ordinary people there suffer from intimidation, violence, and poverty on a daily basis. He mentioned five factors that contribute to immense problems in Honduras: abundant weapons, narcotics trading, weak governance, unequal wealth distribution and US militarization policy. Linking unequal distribution of wealth to the immigration issue in the US, Melo said that only a small budget is allocated for agricultural and rural development. Therefore, Honduran youth are forced to either cross over the border to the US through Mexico or participate in drug trafficking activities. It is better to help create jobs in the rural areas rather than building walls at the US border because a wall will increase deadly incidents but will not decrease immigration attempts, Melo told the applauding crowd.
In conclusion, he emphasized that now is the time for empathy and support for Honduras. It is so sad that such a beautiful country is riddled with so many problems. He welcomed each of us to visit Honduras.
– Thupten Tendhar