Congreso Nacional came to town yesterday, part of a mobile-meeting plan for the legislative branch of government that gets the politicians out of the capital once in a while to hear from "the people." Apparently President Porfirio Lobo was here, too, but all I know of that is I heard a helicopter coming in for a landing around 2 p.m., such a rare event in Copan Ruinas that it had to mean something big.
Congress met in the municipal hall near Parque Central, so I wandered down to the park yesterday morning to see what I could see. Not much, as it turns out. They'd set up a giant screen in the square so people could see what was going on inside, but you couldn't actually get into the room without an invitation. Let me tell you, sitting in the scorching sun watching a giant screen is less fun than you'd think, so after about an hour and a half I packed it in.
Even without the big screen, any observant Copaneco would have recognized that something was up in the square yesterday. Way more military presence, for one thing. But I thought the bigger giveaway was the Honduran man in shorts and sports sandals that wandered in and out of the meeting. A Honduran in an outfit like that in Copan Ruinas - well, it just doesn't happen. A man dressed like that is making a pretty clear statement that he's not from around here.
Overall, the men inside the room were notable for their white guayaberas - the popular cotton dress shirts that men of higher ranking wear in Latin America - their good haircuts and an overall healthy glow. The men outside the room - sitting in the square with me, watching that big-screen TV intently in hopes of hearing something that might bring better roads, more jobs, help for their ailing coffee crops - were notable for their well-worn jeans, shellacked cowboy hats and sinewy skinniness.
|Business as usual for passing vendors|
Was democracy served? Hard to say, but you have to appreciate the effort. I won't be holding my breath for results, but there's something to be said for just showing up.
And if nothing else, it brought the insecticide trucks out the night before to blast away the bug population (and anyone foolish enough to have opened their front door to see what all the hissing commotion was about). When the Congreso Nacional shows up in town, the cockroaches better run.