October 30, 2015
Demanding Justice in the Streets
On warm summer evenings in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, dusk falls and the sun dips low to silhouette the large hills surrounding the city — hills scattered with homes of the city’s poorer residents. The darker it gets, the more pronounced becomes the dancing constellation of orange lights on the city streets.
Elevating the flickering lights on bamboo torches above their heads, tens of thousands of Hondurans have gathered for weekly “torch marches” this summer. In cities across the country, they gather and make resolute-yet-peaceful demands for justice in response to corruption.
A figurative spark that led to these literal flames began with a scandal in the Honduran Social Security Institute, which runs a system of public hospitals and healthcare. In-depth investigations, including several carried out by AJS staff, uncovered a corruption network led by the institute’s former director that had pilfered hundreds of millions of dollars from its coffers — leading to the deaths of Hondurans who were deprived of proper health care.
When the corruption came to light in 2013, AJS was brought in to provide support and make sure the case continued to move forward. Last spring, AJS published a report detailing the extent of the corruption and the names of some of the individuals involved.
In recent months, more details of corruption scandals have been revealed. The most egregious finding for many Hondurans is that a portion of the money stolen from the Social Security Institute helped fund the election campaign of the current president.
This was the boiling point for many Hondurans who could no longer sit on the sidelines as the scourge of corruption took its toll on their families and neighbors.
Courageous Love, Contagious Hope
With new passion and energy among Hondurans, there is an exciting sense of hope in the air. It is exciting to see God moving so visibly in Honduras — giving people conviction that things can change and that their involvement matters.
Politicians and officials are now facing a public that demands action and accountability, and in the last few months, new charges have been brought against corrupt individuals on both sides of the political aisle.
AJS continues to speak out in the media, frequently and fearlessly revealing the corrupt acts of the powerful. But, our increased profile has led to verbal attacks from those threatened by what we reveal. Still, AJS staff holds firm to the promise that no matter how our enemies respond, God is on the side of justice and wants us to stand there with Him. AJS will continue to expose wrongdoing and to push for anti-corruption measures that will keep it from happening in the first place.
The tens of thousands of Hondurans demonstrating in the streets represent lights pushing back against the darkness of corruption and present an important opportunity for reform in Honduras.
In that sense, AJS has carried a figurative torch for 17 years and will continue to do so for years to come. We will continue to do our best to live as Christians with courageous love and contagious hope — the kind of hope that can transform a country.