Roatan’s Beauty, Truth & Wisdom

Honduras’ Intellectual Elite

Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga.
Honduras has its elites: its the political elite, its wealthy economical elite, its sport elite and even its annual beauty pageant elite. Most Hondurans think that people with considerable economic means are the country’s leaders and inspirers. In reality, it is the people who create ideas, theories and who are able to articulate them into art, song and writing that truly shape the country’s image. These independent artists and thinkers shape Honduras’s soul and pave the country’s destiny.

Honduras’ religious intellectual is Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, AKA ‘vice Pope,’ he was born in Tegucigalpa in 1942. At 19 he joined the Salesians and went on to receive three doctorates. The first one was in philosophy at the “Don Rua” institute in El Salvador, then a doctorate in Theology from the Salesian Pontifical Institute in Rome and Lastly, yet another doctoral title in Moral Theology from Pontifical Lateran University. A bit oddly he also received a diploma in clinical psychology and psychotherapy and has become a professor of moral theology and ecclesiology at the Salesian Theological Institute.

In one of his more significant statements Cardinal Maradiaga pressed for debt forgiveness by financial controllers such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. His eminence Maradiaga doesn’t shy away from controversy, he states that politicians that publicly support abortion excommunicate themselves. Yet another one of his more quoted statements is: “to divert attention from the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, Jews influenced the media to exploit the current controversy regarding sexual abuse by Catholic priests.”

Cardinals to Pope Francis, has also a dark side and was forced to flee a mob at Toncontín International Airport. The Honduran Cardinal has been accused of corruption. The Vatican launched an inquiry into allegations of financial misconduct against Maradiaga, including large sums received from the Honduran government through a Church-controlled agency. In other words, Maradiaga is no stranger to controversy. Like him or not, he is the leading intellectual Honduran voice of the current times.

Independent artists and thinkers shape Honduras’s soul.

Not many Honduran musicians could be called intellectuals, but one exception was Guillermo Anderson who performed dozens of times on Roatan. Guillermo Anderson was in many ways the national musician of Honduras and the voice of the country’s soul.

He composed the lyrics of his songs about ecology, landscape, social ills and Honduran idiosyncrasies. Guillermo Anderson, 1962-2018, was perhaps the most widely known Honduran singer and musician. His musical group played Garifuna percussion and emulated the sounds of Honduras’ Caribbean coast. He combined reggae with salsa and Garifuna Punta and parranda music.

His song En Mi Paísfor example, became practically a second national anthem in Honduras. “En mi país rumor de mar, selva y quebrada. Están el sabor de la naranja y la guayaba. Está el color de la flor que no marchita. Está el olor a café en la tardecita,” Anderson nostalgically sang.

Honduras is home to Copan, the ‘Athens’ of Mayan Civilization, and home to Honduras’ premiere archeologist Ricardo Agurcia Fasquelle. This renowned archeologist was born in 1952, in Tegucigalpa, hailing to decadence to French ancestry.
Agurcia graduated from Duke University and received his MA from Tulane University. In 1989 he discovered the fascinating Rosalila Temple in Copán. Agurcia’s research focuses on the founder of the dynasty YaxK’uk Mo’ and the uniquely preserved Rosalila Temple, has a cave and a symbolic passageway to the world of the dead. He specializes in the temple number 16 associated with K’inichYaxK’uk’ Mo.’

Rosalila Temple sits in the middle of a long sequence of constructions built over 400 years by the ancient Maya. It is built in the year 571 AD by Moon Jaguar, the 10th ruler of Copán. Just like all the other buildings in the central axis of the Copán Acropolis, it is dedicated to the memory of the founder of the dynasty, K’InichYaxK’uk Mo’.

Agurcia is also the director of the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History. He developed a hypothesis that the wood used in the construction on the temples caused a major deforestation of the area. With Virginia M. Fields and Dorie Reents-Budet he authored “Lords of Creation: The Origins of Sacred Maya Kingship.”

Honduras is full of stories; stories that defy belief, stories that hold the key to understanding history and geopolitics of the western hemisphere. Fortunately there are several writers that write down these stories. Writer Julio Escoto was born in San Pedro Sula in 1944. He studied at a Teaching University in Tegucigalpa and at the University of Florida and in 1976 he moved to Costa Rica where he founded CSUCA (Asuntos Culturales del Consejo Superior Universitario Centroamericano).

Escoto received an MA degree in Spanish American Literature at the University of Costa Rica, and in 1986 he returned to Honduras to take the position of the literature professor at the UNAH. He was an editor of a literary journal “Imaginación.” He writes a column for El Heraldo and is the director of the National University of Honduras.

Escoto is a Honduran short-story teller, a novelist and an essayist. His notable novels include El árbol de los pañuelos, Días de Ventisca, Noches de Huracán, El General Morazán marcha a batallar desde la Muerte, and Rey del Albor.

Honduras is full of stories; stories that defy belief.

Poetry gives us an insight into a human soul and poets give us a glance at what is the Honduras soul. Poet Roberto Sosa, born in Yoro in 1930, was considered the greatest living poet in Honduras. While it is Nicaragua that is the cradle of Central American poetry, Sosa has brought a Honduran voice to the top of poets of the region.

His poems were translated into several foreign languages and he was awarded the Adonais Prize in Spain, and Casa de las Americas Prize in Cuba, and the prestigious Order of the Arts and Letter in France. Sosa was an editor of Presente Magazine and was president of the Honduras Journalists’ Union.
He also taught literature at the UNAH.

His poems: The Common Grief and The Return of the River were some of his most known. “Nothing flickers now but pain… In this instant that is already eternity… And a day,” eloquently wrote Sosa in The Common Grief. While he passed away in 2011, his presence is still felt.