Honduras, land and of tall grass fields, jungles, rivers, beaches, mountains, coral reefs and so many wonderful sunsets. Geographically you might find all kind of marvels in there, but besides our aesthetic beauty, believe it or not, there is so much more to be proud of within this humble little country.
It’s 112, 492 m2 full of people that are ready to work from sunset to dawn. Hondurans, also known as “catrachos”, are people that besides all the hardships and circumstances that they have to put up through, will keep on walking even if they might not have legs (Just as Calle 13’s song Latinoamérica). Hondurans also are ready to help out even if they don’t find themselves in the best conditions ever.
The story of the demonym “catrachos” proves the solidarity of our people. Honduran General Florencio Xatruch is to whom we owe the gentilic, to be precise. In 1855, he fought against the filibuster William Walker, an American who was born in 1824 and wanted to conquer various regions of Latin America, in the attempt to form new slaves states to join to the already existing ones in the US – this was called ‘filibustering’. He managed to invade and rule Nicaragua from 1856 to 1857. However, Central American troops were ready to fight for their liberties and Xatruch, alongside with generals from Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala, fought against Walker, defeating him at several battles. Xatruch fought with an army of 600 hondurans, which were called the ‘Xatruch brothers’ – in Spanish, “los hermanos Xatruch.”
But this general happened to be from Catalan descendance, and it was impossible for people to pronounce the name correctly; so they called them “los hermanos catruches”, the “catruches brothers” in English. From then it morphed to today’s “Catrachos”, very widely used amongst Hondurans and some Central Americans. The gentilic is something Hondurans take pride of indeed!
Our history has often defined us as fighters. In 1954, Honduras witnessed its biggest and most important worker’s strike. From the 1rst and 2nd of May, Honduran workers demanded that which American transnationals deprived them of: their social and worker rights. The banana companies, for instance, exploited workers, appointed congressmen, determined who would be in office and how long, and in short, ‘owned’ Honduras during these times. Under the Tiburcio Carias Andino dictatorship lasting from 1933 to 1949, civil and humans rights have been violated in high quantities.
The strikes started in 1953 and in attempts to stop any form of revolts, the workers were punished by being forced to work days without pay on Sundays, the day assigned for resting. Yet, Hondurans fought back and met in two important ports for the banana shipments. From two initial ports the strike spread to all the banana plantations, and the workers could not be ignored anymore. Quickly, it became a popular uprising of the entire country, that expanded to other domains and factories as well. The strike finally stopped in what seemed to be an uneased ending. But it left the country in shock. The National Party, that wanted to continue its dictatorship with successors, was overthrown. A call for elections then led to the presidency of Villeda Morales, who, in 1959 established a “work code” that legalized syndicalism and reformed workers’ rights. The fight lasted 69 days and proved that the workers had an ardent will to go beyond obstacles, even if that meant risking their lives. This spirit of “lucha” – or in English, the will to fight – has not left Honduran souls.
Everyday, women, men, children even, wake up early to go ‘win their bread’ yet it seems that so many other forces have much stronger reign in Honduras. I’m sure that if you happen to have any knowledge of Honduras, that which you know is perhaps not so bright or marvellous. Recently, San Pedro Sula, Honduras, was said to be the most violent city in the world; however according to 2018 statistics, we went down to the 26th spot in 2017, reducing in one year the rate by about 54% thanks to the efforts of the current government. There are tones of negatives stories in newspapers and television news. But there is still lots to save from the despair Honduras seems to be in.
Catrachos are entrepreneurs and extraordinarily talented in sports, arts and sciences such as maths. They are also described by their creativity. Recently, in 2017, a sugar cane farmer developed his own sugar cane juice extractor! Although the invention probably already existed, he developed his own prototype with no academic knowledge of engineering. This is one more way to show that it is hard work that leads to success: when a Catracho wants to do something, nothing can stop him! In La Ceiba, the third most important city of Honduras, Jose Chinchilla, a young entrepreneur, organized the very first Honduran TedX event in 2017, and is currently organizing the second one.
This is just some proof that the negative forces that seem to rule our country are as strong as we let them be, and many don’t let them be strong at all. Honduras has such a History and so much to improve and grow! Yet there is one sure thing, there is much to be proud from. So go deeper than the first article you find of Honduras and fall in love with it as I and many other have! I’ll leave you some articles I used and others, for you to learn about the history and the wonders that Catrachos like to share with the world.
A proud Honduran, but most importantly a proud citizen of the world,
Ana Catalina, Keeper of Honduras