RSS

Monthly Archives: December 2011

El Tio Returns to Honduras

Publisher’s Note:  These are the views of the author alone and don’t necessarily reflect the position of Fuze Publishing.

Larry Buchanan, co-author of "The Gift of El Tio"

After an absence of fifteen years, I visited the stunningly beautiful country of Honduras, its rugged mountains covered by a druse of tall pines offering shade for some of the best coffee fincas in the world, its valleys ablaze in orange-red acacia and maroon bougainvillea. Trees ripe with avocados, bananas, mangos, and papaya line the narrow pathways, the irresistible scent of roasting coffee and the perfume of hot tortillas and boiling beans sets your mouth to water as you hike the countryside, past adobe homes painted in pastels of blue, orange or pink, beneath a roof of red tile.

The people are the friendliest in the world, inviting you to sit on their veranda to sip coffee surrounded by pots and tin cans filled with lemon-scented amethystine orchids and clusters of brilliant marigolds.

But this paradise came under threat a few years ago. Under pressure from environmental groups the government in 2002 banned mineral exploration and mining, assuming that everyone could somehow survive on beans and corn grown in patches scratched in the rocky ground. The later Zelaya administration proclaimed he would build a true socialist paradise. The mineral gifts offered by El Tio were outlawed, and mining investment fled the country, destroying tens of thousands of jobs. El Tio returned to the solitude of his cave to await a more enlightened time.

During this dark period, agriculture found it alone could not bring prosperity to everyone. Unemployment and underemployment rose to over 38%, and although agriculture employed 39.2% of the population it added only 12.5% to the GDP. It doesn’t take a mathematician to realize productivity was not high in the fields and farms. As a result, underemployment and low wages became crucial issues.   Fathers immigrated en masse to the north, leaving behind their wives and children. It is said that 20% of the GDP, or nearly $7 billion, is remitted every year from those working in the US. But not all could go north: crowds of young men stand, sit, lie idle with nothing to do in their little villages except dream of how to find a job that simply doesn’t exist. Crime rates soared (Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world, exceeding even Iraq and Mexico); malnutrition climbed (9% of children below five are under weight); disease spread (Aids is the number one killer of young women). El Tio saw all this and waited, holding his gift for the time it would be appreciated.

In 2009, advised by Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Zelaya ignored the constitution and tried to run for a second term. He was duly expelled by the Supreme Court and National Legislature. Seeing the damage the previous administrations had brought to his country, the new government under President Lobo announced that Honduras is once again “Open For Business,” and he welcomed the return of the natural resource industry. In just this year alone (2011), over 130 companies have entered Honduras to search for mineral deposits, hiring secretaries, truck drivers, lawyers, engineers, carpenters, surveyors, laborers of all sorts. Iron mines are opening up, lead and zinc and gold are being exported, millions of dollars are being invested in hundreds of projects.

El Tio has a gift for the people of Honduras, a gift of jobs, opportunity, and an escape from poverty. Thanks to the far-sighted Lobo administration, El Tio has left his cave and is delivering a better life for all Hondurans.

To find out more about El Tio, go to the Fuze Publishing website!

 

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

The Ghost of Books Past

By Mark Saunders

To play with the order of Swinburne’s famous phrase, the hounds of winter are on fall’s traces. Earlier this week we had a low temperature that settled in the twenties, which, over a few days, matriculated into the thirties and eventually received its diploma. This spate of cold weather was not totally surprising since I live in a town more than six thousand feet above sea level; it was only surprising because I live in the middle of sunny Mexico.

I know what some of you are thinking: what a wimp. I’m sure someone out there trekked five miles through snow in twenty-below-zero weather as a kid to get to some lame social studies class. But I say, better you than me.

Okay, we’ve established my wimp credentials. But in my defense, our house has no heat, other than the oven, which I admit to only occasionally turning on. Lately I feel as if I’m living inside the crisper drawer of a Sub-Zero refrigerator. San Miguel is the only place I’ve ever lived where in winter I have to go outside to warm up.

The chilly weather reminded me of how I love nothing more in winter than to sit near a roaring fire, hot drink in one hand and a riveting book in the other, strong reading lamp overseeing it all, like some Greek God of Good Reads. Let’s face it, this is exactly how one should spend a good winter’s day or evening, don’t you agree?

With that in mind, I let my mind wander, as minds do, and thought of books I’d like to re-read, as I was standing in front of a warm oven, which would have to do because our house does not have a fire place. Did I already mention how cold our house gets?

I chose to limit my selection to four works of non-fiction and four works of fiction—all of them contemporary. (Re-reading literary classics is a different, ahem, story.) I could just as easily have picked forty of each. I’ve elected to merely list them and save both of us the trouble of any embarrassing comments.

Non-fiction:

By Design: Why There Are No Locks on the Bathroom Doors in the Hotel Louis XIV and Other Object Lessons by Ralph Caplan

The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson

Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson

Pipers at the Gates of Dawn: The Wisdom of Children’s Literature by Jonathan Cott

Quick read: The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century’s On-line Pioneers by Tom Standage

Fiction:

Time and Again by Jack Finney

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Freaky Deaky by Elmore Leonard (no, wait, make that Get Shorty, or Swag, no, Out of Sight… all right, I’ll compromise and settle for anything by Elmore Leonard)

Quick read: Montana 1948: A Novel by Larry Watson

That takes care of re-reading oldies but goodies. To find your next great winter read of new works, don’t forget to check out the amazing slate of books by FUZE, including my own humorous memoir, Nobody Knows the Spanish I Speak. FUZE books make great holiday gifts, even if they don’t fit into a normal stocking.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on December 4, 2011 in Uncategorized