Making Systems Work: Responding to the Political Crisis in Honduras

  • January 26, 2018

At AJS, we believe that part of our calling as Christians is to speak truth to power, whoever is in power, and in this way protect the poor and vulnerable that are so close to God’s heart. Whether or not we personally support Honduras’ new elected leaders, we consider it our job for the next four years to try to make their administration as effective as possible. This is not a partisan position, but a Christian one. We know from experience that when governments fail, those who suffer are the poorest and most vulnerable – widows, orphans, strangers, the young, the old, and the sick.

Making Systems Work: Responding to the Political Crisis in Honduras

By Kurt Ver Beek, AJS Co-Founder

I seldom cry – over the past couple years, I can think of only two or three occasions that brought me to tears. However, in the days after Honduras’ recent election I found myself standing before the staff of AJS, weeping.

We have celebrated so much progress in Honduras over the years – new laws, stronger systems, 200 days of class, a declining homicide rate – but in the chaotic moments after the election, in the middle of so much uncertainty and polarization, I questioned if we had really moved forward.

A few weeks ago, we shared details about the deeply irregular election in Honduras. In the protests and unrest after the election, military and police were responsible for over 30 deaths, and hundreds were injured. Polarization reached a new high with deep divisions between political parties, family and friends.

Then, just a few days ago, the Honduran Congress passed an outrageous law which seriously limits the ability of the prosecutor’s office to investigate corruption of government officials, sending a clear message to law-makers that it was still safe to steal from the taxes of the Honduran people.

It has been painful to see the country suffer from these two setbacks one after another. The heart of our work at AJS is to strengthen government systems so that they provide necessary safety, security, and services to the poorest Hondurans. Though we’ve come a long way, these difficult weeks have been a reminder that a lot of work still needs to be done.

But, thankfully, my wife, Jo Ann and my brave colleagues and friends – Carlos Hernandez, Omar Rivera, and the leadership team at AJS – have been reminding me that God can take the most broken situations and turn them into opportunities; that looking back over 20 years, God has been faithful every time I felt there was no hope. So, we move forward in faithfulness seeing what we can do to fix what has been broken.

At AJS, we believe that part of our calling as Christians is to speak truth to power, whoever is in power, and in this way protect the poor and vulnerable that are so close to God’s heart. Whether or not we personally support Honduras’ new elected leaders, we consider it our job for the next four years to try to make their administration as effective as possible. This is not a partisan position, but a Christian one. We know from experience that when governments fail, those who suffer are the poorest and most vulnerable – widows, orphans, strangers, the young, the old, and the sick.

So we haven’t lost any time. Our work over the past 20 years has put us in a strong position to help address the underlying problems that led to this disastrous election and these new disastrous laws.

Together with some of the best minds here in Honduras we are working on specific, detailed proposals for investigating human rights abuses and strengthening Honduran democracy.

We also responded loudly, immediately, and unequivocally to Congress: Revoke the shameful law which guarantees impunity and rewards corruption.

But our mission goes deeper.

Honduras desperately needs a process of national reconciliation, so that the country’s wounds can begin to heal. These injuries go beyond these laws or this election, they reflect systems of injustice and inequality that have plagued the country for decades. Because of this, we are committed to continuing our work with all sectors of the Honduran government, working always for more transparency, better services, and improved lives for the people of Honduras.

I started this process in tears, but hope is persistent, and I find myself excited about all we have accomplished and all we will accomplish in the coming years. Thank you for your support and prayers. I ask you to continue to pray– for courage and wisdom in our work; and for the country of Honduras – for peace, for reconciliation, for deep healing and a path toward justice.

With gratitude,
Kurt

Kurt VerBeek and Jo Ann Van Engen helped launch, and continue to help lead, the Association for a More Just Society in Honduras.

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