The People and Culture of Honduras

By Nick Hadley


Honduras was originally inhabited by the indigenous people, the Mayans. They were the most advanced andCopan_1.jpg linguistically intricate. After the Mayan empire fell, many other tribes began to drift into the territory of today's Honduras. Such groups included the Lencas who's language is very unique in the fact that it has no known origin. Other groups came from some parts of the South-Western parts of the United States, and parts of Mexico. These groups lived together without any large conflicts.

In October of 1537, the chief of the Lenca tribes, names Lempira had united over two hundred tribes. This organization was in hopes to help force the Spaniards out of their territory and claim it for themselves. After many battles and fights the leader of the Spaniards in the area, Alonso de Caceras invited the Lempira for a "peace" dinner to try to negotiate. When Lempira had expressed that he had no intention of stopping the war until they were gone Caceras commited treason. As Lempira was leaving a hidden marksman shot Lempira in the head. After Lempira's death his 30,000 men either surrendered or ran away. At this the Governor Montejo regained control of the Valley of Comayagua, where the Lenca tribes were trying to take back. After this the crusade of Honduras was executed by the formation of new settlements.

In July of 1502 during Columbus' last and final trip to the Americas he spotted Honduras. While exploring this area, it is said that Columbus was caught in a fierce storm and had to take cover in a cape. While leaving he exclaimed "Gracias a Dios que hemos salido de estas honduras!" After this it is believed that the area became known as Gracias a Dios and the territory as Honduras. Later, between 1523 and 1526 there was a power-struggle between Cortés and Cristóbal de Olid. After Olid set up his own government, Cortés went down and killed him and re-established his governmental system.

Honduras has had many incidents of distrust and unrest within the government and infrastructure, because of this the government is very lacking. However during the Great Depression, Honduras had a lot of power from all of its banana plantations. Authoritarian Gen. Tiburcio Carias Andino took control. He stayed in power until 1948. By this time other militaristic leaders began taking control, including people from both the parties of Nationalistic and Liberal.
In 1957, after many strikes from the banana plantation workers and civil uprisings, Honduras held it´s first elections. Dr. Ramon Vidella Morales was elected from the Liberal party. The Liberal party kept control from 1957-63. At the same time the military forces were beginning to rise up and gain more power. In 1963 the military forced Morales out of the country. The Nationalistic party took control and held it until 1970 and during this time forced all of the Liberal party members out of the country. In the 1960 World Cup soccer competitions, Honduras and El Salvador began to have high tensions. During the Cup both countries insulted each other, it got to the point where the diplomatic bonds were broken. This started what was called "The Soccer War". This war was bloody and had losses on both sides. Anywhere from 60,000 to 130,000 Salvadorians were expelled from Honduras which caused economic turmoil in many of the surrounding countries and between the Honduras and Salvador as well. However this war did provide a lot of nationalistic pride in the people of Honduras. People really began to stick up for their own country and felt a sense of pride.

In October of 1980 Honduras and El Salvador signed a peace treaty and by 1992 El Salvador had given all of the disputed territories back to Honduras. Also during this time Honduras and Nicaragua began to have tensions. Then in 1993 a Liberal, Carlos Roberto Reina, was elected president and overthrew the Nationalistic party. This was a large turning point in Honduras, Reina called for the persecution of all those responsible for the human rights violations in the 1980´s. After Reina the seceding presidents have continued to uphold his values and keep Honduras alive and well.

Food and Culture

The culture of Honduras is very widespread and interesting. Many people are under the assumption that all stone_building.jpgLatin American countries have the same culture and beliefs, this is wrong.As with any culture, language plays a large roll in the development. Honduras is no exception. In Honduras, Spanish is the dominant language, Spanish was first forced by the Conquistadores and has been spoken throughout Honduras for over two hundred years. Honduran Spanish is a little bit different than the standard Spain Spanish. In Honduras the language differs in its lexical items. This different vocabulary tends to give Hondurans a distinct accent. In Honduras, as well as many other Latin American countries, food plays a large role in the culture. Beans and tortillas are a basic staple of everyday life. The beans are typically fried and tortillas small and thick and normally made at home. However a nice, lavish meal might include: rice, fried meat, white cheese, fried plantains, mantequilla, some salad, and some sweet coffee or soda pop. These kinds of meals are served year round at any time. Also something that differs quite a bit from American culture, Hondurans often leave the door open and allow animals to wander through their home and often feed them scraps. Around the holiday season, special meals begin to show up, and along with them special dishes. Torrejas is a white bread that is soaked in a hot syrup, and nacatamales are a lot like Mexican tamales but are bigger, moister and have a more gel-like dough.

From my interview with Irma Rivas I learned a lot more than I could online. In Honduras a famous dish is La Tortuga,turtle.JPG "The Turtle". Also they make iguana. These dishes are not exactly particular to Honduras, but are still very important to the local culture.

Economic Standing

Honduras is a poor country with thousands of its population on the younger end of the spectrum. Agriculture is the highest export for Honduras. Bananas being number one. The working conditions under which people are forced to function are not good. They are very poor and extremely hazardous. However in 1954 when the majority of the banana workers went on strike, the government saw fit to start adopting some new methods and regulations. There are thousands of people who go hungry all the time simply because there is not enough money. There is enough food, but not enough money to buy the food. Many times in a family, if the children eat, the parents do not eat. Thus making it difficult to work while battling hunger. Most of the population does not know were to put the blame or why they have such poor economy.

In the beginning of Honduras' economic standings, many of its political agenda was dictated by its neighboring provinces: Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.


This section I learned mainly from my interview with Irma

I asked Irma what she thought about the language comparison in Latin America and here in the United States. Irma stated that in Central America the language is much easier to understand for her. The words used in Central America are ones she are familiar with and ones she has always known. The Spanish here in the United States is slightly unclear to her but still understandable. And that is how I feel about her Spanish, it is a slight struggle to understand her but still do able. In Honduras there are some words that come to mind such as Andale that is used to mean of course, or synonymous with que bueno also the word, mande used as a way to say excuse me when you can not understand or need clarification. Mande is a more polite and softer way to say que, which is more harsh.

This is my video interview with Irma Rivas. She was born in Honduras and now lives here in America. Sorry it seems a little choppy, she gave me thirty minutes of information and i had to make it fit into a ten minute time frame for Youtube. If you really want the whole thing, I have about six gigs worth of video.