By Order of the President

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By Order of the President

By Don Moore

This article originally appeared in the June 1984 (#89) issue of Review of International Broadcasting.

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Saturday noon, March 31, 1984. I was on my way back to Santa Barbara. Traveling on an old school bus on the horríd dirt road that runs through the remote areas south of town. We were still 2 1/2 hours - about 40 miles - outside of town. The bus stopped to pick up a campesino along the road. He exchanged some excited words with the driver and the men up front. I was sitting toward the rear and paid no attentíon. The bus started again and the driver turned on the radio.

Normally at this point I cringe and think words I'd rather not repeat. Often, too often, Honduran bus drivers entertain their passengers by playing ranchera music at ear-busting levels. I don't think anything gives me a headache faster than getting on a bus at five a.m. and listening to loud ranchera music. Funny though, it never gives me a headache DXing with headphones at the same hour.

However, this time I was pleasantly surprised. The station was playing classical music! I'm not a classical aficionado, but it is relaxing to listen to. Onward we rode for ten minutes as I wondered what kind of bus driver would play this, and even more, how had I never come across this station myself? I thought no station around Santa Bárbara played classícal music.

Then I learned what was going on. An announcer broke in. He said that by order of the office of the President all stations were to continue relaying this broadcast from Tegucigalpa. Over the next half hour the same announcer broke into the music a few more times with the same announcement. It was not prerecorded, obviously being done live.

No one on the bus talked. Everyone stayed quietly to their own thoughts. Fear and tension were certainly in the air. Had war with Nicaragua come? That seemed most likely. Or perhaps the military had taken over, a coup, an end to Honduras' experiment in democracy, fragile and imperfect though it is. I've never seen a radio so anxiously listened to. Everyone knew that whatever happened would affect their country for years. And everyone knew that whatever had happened probably involved bloodshed.

Soon the classical music was broken by offícial comuniques---bits and pieces of news. The classical disc that had been playing over and over was replaced by one of march music. It too was played over and over. Things came together. Tension left. Relief came. General Alvarez and three other ranking generals had been forced to resign and go into exile. President Suazo had taken direct control of the military. By getting rid of these four hardline, politically-oriented generals, the possibilíty of war with Nicaragua suddenly became more remote than it has been for years. The chance of democracy in Honduras survivíng until the 1985 elections became excellent.

There was still some fear over the next few days until it became clear that the military as a whole supported President Suazo, not General Alvarez. A relief has settled into Honduras. Sports broadcasts bring excitement. But never have I seen such quiet intensity of emotion from a radio broadcast.

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