A Vigil for Peace at the U.S. Embassy

Darkness, a little rain, and a steady wind weren’t going to hold them back.

As we arrived in front of the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, a few hundred Hondurans were already there candles and signs ready. We walked from the Loyola Center and Radio Progreso offices where many of us would be sleeping the night on the floor. Cardinal Rodriguez had prohibited churches and Catholic institutions from participating from the vigil for peace in front of the embassy that night. He further gave orders prohibiting Catholic retreat centers from receiving delegation members as guests.

They had been waiting on the sidewalk opposite the embassy. Almost as soon as they saw us arrive (50 foreigners is pretty obvious), they poured out into the street and blocked both lanes of traffic. In no time a sound system was set up, a memorial banner laid in the center of the street, and lit candles lined up on one edge.

The embassy-side of the street was less welcoming. A member of the delegation counted at least two hundred local security forces lined up in front of the building in full riot gear. We were only armed with candles, crosses, words, and prayers. Priests and pastors, religious and lay, foreign and local, gathered to remember, pray, and hope for a better future for Honduras.

There were black ribbon cut-outs remembering the names of the people who have died in the violent repression since the fraudulent November elections. In addition to the recent martyrs, names such as Martin Luther King Jr., Berta Cáceres, and Msr. Oscar Romero were remembered as people who stood for justice and were killed for their work.

I cannot fully capture for you what it was like to be there among such a crowd braving the elements and the harsh gaze of the security forces. I do know that the place was filled with hope and commitment.  It was dark in the street and it’s a very dark chapter in Honduran history with a state of hyper-militarization, repression, and now a dictatorship. The faces lit with candles in the street witnessed to a people brave enough to persist in their demand for peace and justice in their Honduras.

Since 2009, the U.S. government has set at least two hundred million dollars in police and military aid to the Honduran government. One of the number one requests we heard from people was to as the U.S. government to cut off funding for security forces.