Protestors in Honduras have reportedly set portions of the U.S. Embassy property on fire during recent national demonstrations. The fire was seen only outside of Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, as a result of continuing, and perhaps escalating, demonstrations led primarily by teachers and doctors, according to reports from the Stamford Advocate. Logistically, the fires were ignited by protestors with several tires doused in fuel and thrown toward the Embassy entrance, according to reports obtained by Reuters through fire services officials and witnesses. Although the structure suffered no fire damage, both the clear and symbolic messaging of such political act, rendered so through particular targeting, cannot be lost among reports of minimal physical damage.
These protests have been directed at Honduran President, Juan Orlando Hernandez, with specific reference to his personal history of political corruption, conservative economic policy, and engagements with the United States. Earlier this week, a court filing against President Hernandez revealed that he is being investigated by American authorities as part of a money laundering and drug trafficking probe. Thus, the Honduran protests were fueled by public responses to many of Hernandez’s actions as president. Although the president has not yet been charged with a crime, he has faced staunch opposition following his divisive and controversial reelection for a second term in 2017. Reuters reports that the election itself was internationally criticized by observers, and even that his opponents claim he stole it. Evidently, the election critiques following the United States’ recognition of Hernandez as President, illustrates a much more tangled web than burning political tires.
According to the Stamford Advocate, the U.S. Ambassador to Honduras, Chargé Heide Fulton, issued a statement the day before the protests’ escalation, urging Hondurans against acts of violence. In addition, a security alert was issued through the embassy’s website which urged American government employees and their family members in Honduras to stay home on Friday. Further, despite the fact that the U.S. Embassy has not as of yet responded to requests for comments from the Stamford Advocate, they report that a State Department official from the “Western Hemisphere” said, “The United States urges all parties in Honduras to refrain from violence. Peaceful discussions are the best path toward resolving political differences. We have seen reports of roadblocks by protesters and continued demonstrations.”
The conflict at hand presents an interesting circumstance under which exploring both the virtues and vices of this act contextually pose questions about the existence of “politically good” moves. On the one hand, the protestors did no physical damage to international property while simultaneously expressing political opposition to legislature. On the other hand, the intent was to perform an act of public physical violence. While the intricacies of the potentially circumstantial virtues of violent protests highly demand further research, the pursuit of world peace will not be achieved by enacting the values which inherently oppose this mission. The prominent role played by the United States in this narrative is striking in numerous, however purposefully suppressed, ways. As President Hernandez sought the implementation of social privatization policies, thus igniting the protests, the targeting of the U.S. embassy was a public recognition of both American neoliberal preaching and American interference in Central American governments. It is therefore important to consider this act of protest in the broader context of current American immigration policies, their strategically ahistorical natures, and the nature and purpose of the current Honduran protests.