Honduran Blues

"You're an American journalist," Pineda tells me. "Let me tell you about Central America. The United States owns Central America. If the United States forgave all of Honduras' debt, then the country would finally be free."

Jose Antonio interrupts him. Has Pineda heard anything about the fate of the village of Puerto Cortez?

Nothing, says Pineda.
Jose Antonio cannot find the other Hondurans on his route--two brothers and an elderly man. He has heard that the brothers, who, like Pineda's roommate, are also from San Pedro Sula, have lost their residences to Hurricane Mitch floods. But the brothers aren't at home; neighbors say they have taken second jobs at night to get more money to send to their wives. The elderly man is not at home, either.

We return to Jose Antonio's apartment, which has no heat. Jose Antonio is too broke to buy a coat, so I ask him how he stays warm.

"Aguanto," he says, which means, "I endure."
To keep himself occupied, he has recently started the practice of cutting out pictures of saguaros and desert lakes and pine forests from old issues of Arizona Highways. Then he glues them on his lampshade for decoration. On the wall near the door, he's put up two magazine pictures of cherubic gringo children so wholesome that they look like they were clipped from fabric-softener advertisements.

Two small American flags decorate his coffee table.
"Honduras is destroyed," he tells me. "The people who are still alive are going to succumb to cholera and other diseases. If my family is dead, there is no reason to return to Honduras. I will stay here and learn English, I'll become bilingual. With two languages, I can get a job, maybe at a grocery store.

"I will endure," he says.
He flicks on the television. It's almost time for the news.

Contact Terry Greene Sterling at 229-8437, or online at tgreene@newtimes.com

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