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An Ouster Highlights a Yawning Divide in Honduran Society

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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-08-09 05:38 PM
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An Ouster Highlights a Yawning Divide in Honduran Society
August 9, 2009
An Ouster Highlights a Yawning Divide in Honduran Society

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras One woman started a kind of kaffeeklatsch with her high-powered friends that grew into the driving force behind a movement that toppled the Honduran president. The other preferred to stay out of politics until the presidents ouster compelled her to protest.

Armida Villela de Lpez Contreras, a lawyer and former vice president, has become one of the most visible critics of the ousted Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya. And Hedme Castro is one of the thousands of teachers who have banded together to demand Mr. Zelayas return.

Between them is a yawning political and socioeconomic divide that still threatens the stability of what was once one of the United States principal staging grounds in Latin America during the cold war. And what they have to say about how this countrys political crisis began and about the sacrifices they are willing to make to defend their views leaves little hope that it will end any time soon.

To Ms. Lpez Contreras, a prominent member of this countrys small upper class, Mr. Zelaya was ousted because his blossoming leftist alliance with President Hugo Chvez of Venezuela had become a threat to Honduran democracy.

She is a founding member of a coalition representing some of the most powerful business and political forces in the country. And she says the coalition members are willing to do, or spend, whatever it takes to keep their country afloat in the face of mounting economic pressure resulting from the rest of the worlds condemnation of the coup.

Zelaya was suffocating all other powers of government, Ms. Lpez Contreras said. Now that hes gone we are breathing the air of freedom. This is a conquest we are not willing to surrender.

To Ms. Castro, who lives a solidly working-class existence, Mr. Zelaya was ousted because people like Ms. Lpez Contreras felt threatened by his efforts to lift up the poor most notably with a 60 percent increase in the minimum wage to about $9.60 a day from about $6 a day. An estimated 60 percent of Hondurans live in poverty.

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