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Violence and Voyeurism: A Guide on How (Not) to Write About Honduras

Mexico & Central America

When referring to Honduras you must make the reader understand that Honduras is the original Banana Republic, no exceptions. The country is now more so known for its crime, so the title must accordingly make a reference in some way to cocaine, gangs, violence or bananas. An ideal title would be: “Cocaine Gang Violence in the Banana Republic.”

In order to attract ax-grinders and readers alike, you must mention the United States in your opening sentence, reference Venezuela without any context at least three times and devote one paragraph to the Cold War and the Central American civil wars of the 1980s. It would be wise to remind the audience that Central America is located South of the Border and forms part of what is collectively known as America’s Backyard; a region which is a member of the Third World, a subsidiary of the First World. As far as the reader is concerned Honduras has only had one president: The plucky anti-hero of Mel Zelaya. Do not investigate or paint an authentic portrait of the man; the reader already expects either Che Guevara or Mussolini. Any historical perspective that examines events prior to his election must be ignored with contempt. Give the people what they want: do not in any way attempt to present a nuanced or alternative point of view.

Even though it’s 2013 make sure to write about the cold war that is being waged between Capitalism and Communism with the Castros Bros. and Chavez’s corpses in one corner, and the doe eyed Cinderella story of Honduran democracy in the other. Any internal narrative should be deliberately glossed over in order to leave the reader unchallenged and ignorant. Insensitive pop culture references should be used sparsely for greater impact. Another quick title suggestion would be: “Back to the Future and Back from the Dead: Banana Republic’s Battle against Bolshevik Chavez from Hell.”

Regarding the violence, mold its causes to whoever your audience is and what they expect. For critics of the United States blame the entire population for their drug thirst. For the  economic crusaders blame poor people for their dogged desire to ruin the country. For cultural supremacists blame Latin American culture as a singular depraved self-destructive block. For class warriors blame the cabal of foreign and domestic business tyrants that rule over the oppressed fiefdom.

Limit your pictures to those of blood strewn over derelict pockmarked streets, or of black smoke and flaming wrecks. If covering a dynamic situation use instead interesting compositions such as small men with large guns, or sweaty human beings screaming. Otherwise a Caribbean sunset with a diagonally dipping palm tree and a silhouette of a gun will suffice. Coyly make passing references to long lost ruined cities in the deep, unforgiving jungle, and hint that if the course is left uncorrected Honduran civilization will go the way of the Mayan. Assume the role of a tropical Virgil walking the reader through the nine poorly designated circles of Honduras. Employ the voice of a defeated observer who empathizes with the victims, but only so far as to extend pity and doom. Leave the readers wanting more (Xanax).

Regarding immigration never ask why they left, only ask displaced individuals how much they enjoy their new host country. Regarding gangs make sure they are demonized to the point of being Nike wearing, glyph covered demons not worth bringing up except when discussing their forthcoming extrajudicial executions. Regarding foreigners they are benign miracle working expats, never immigrants so as to not offend their income bracket. The Organization of American States can simultaneously be a socialist tentacle, and an American apparatus for control. Another suggestion for a title would be “Venezuela Honduras Obama Violence Poverty: #bananarepublic”

If you are to include speaking parts for Hondurans in your piece make sure they are one dimensional husks, that although savory are also easy to digest. Some examples: The crooked cop, the poor farmer, the battered woman, the malnourished footballer and of course, the overwhelmed priest. The more salt of the earth these selected broken people come across as the better. Also make sure to include unflattering photographs that accentuate their desperation. On the off chance you meet Hondurans who want to change their country for the better be sure to heavily imply that at best they are Sisyphus and at worse they will die trying (and failing).

Try not to write on subjects that could potentially derail prejudice. These include success stories, anything that is not pertaining to Manuel Zelaya or violence, the regular everyday people who have good lives, the thousands of Hondurans trying to make their country a better place, the burgeoning cultural movement or anything that in anyway could be construed as positive. Words and references that should be blacklisted from the start include: dignity, happiness, and hope.

And finally describe the countryside as ‘beautiful,’ and preferably in allusions to the garden of Eden; the beaches as pure, virginal and untouched, merely waiting for muscular and forceful development. Describe the few urban centers as dirty, failed and apocalyptic, with insular pockets of porcelain towers filled with callous fatcats smoking 100$ bills. In general terms however, make sure to underline how primitive and hopeless the country and its people are. Another fine title would be: “DEATH DEATH DEATH.”