Friday, April 08, 2011

Whether rain, sleet, or shine; the mailman never comes...

In the comments section of another Honduran blogger, I opined that I've come to the view that Honduras is a 'semi-failed state', on the road to full-fledged 'failed state' status.  Things just don't work in Honduras, basic things, uncomplicated things... The list is quite, lack of security, sanitation, water, etc., etc.  On top of it all is the endemic corruption that is pervasive throughout the country, at all levels of government and society.

Last year, Honduras had an exceptionally rainy wet season, but yet was unable to fill its reservoirs.  Due to a lack of maintenance, it had to release the water and now faces water shortages again.  Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world and is unable to provide security to its citizens.

But one of the symptoms of its 'semi-failed state' status that really bugs me is the fact that its postal system doesn't work.  According to stories I've heard, it used to work...albeit 30-40 years ago.  Then there was so much corruption and theft in the post office that people were afraid to mail anything, assuming that it would be stolen and never reach its destination.  So people quit utilizing the postal system, and little by little it quit functioning.

The result is that now, whenever you want to pay a bill, instead of dropping a check in the mail, you must go to a bank, wait in line for 20-30 minutes to pay your bill.  The chances are that the bank's system is down, but you don't know this until you've waited for what seems an eternity.  So, you have to go back the next day and try again.  To make it worse, you can't pay all your bills at just one bank.  No... This is Honduras.  It just has to be time consuming and frustrating.  So you pay your water bill at one bank, school tuition at another, electric bill at another, and cable bill somewhere else, etc., etc.

If all the hours wasted by literally hundreds of thousands of people monthly, doing nothing but standing in lines over and over again were funneled into a productive activity, something could actually be accomplished.  But no, since people can't trust the post office, it has withered away into nothingness and a whole nation is condemned to waiting in useless lines.

Someday, I'm going to do an experiment and post a letter to my father in law since I know he actually has a 'buzon' (mailbox).  I will let you know whether it is ever received  and how long it takes.


Anonymous said...

As a North American teacher, I am not a fan of George Bush's No Child Left Behind. However, as an ex-pat living in Honduras for 18 months, I whole heartedly agree with you in your critique of the "mail" system, the "banking" system, the "educational" system and "security" system. This failing country needs the NCLB philosophy of removing the current administration and replacing it with an outside governing body that will work for the majority (poor) and not accept bribes or under the table deals to only line their own pockets. It saddens me that a place with such beauty is spiraling into ... who knows what?

Laurie Matherne said...

Well written, amigo! Guess what I did yesterday evening? I was at Banco Ficohsa in line to pay my water bill. How tedious. My professional associates and friends in the US can scarcely believe me when I say that the postal system is virtually non existent. I have to repeat my words over and over. They don't get it. I would like permission to run your column on my blog. I think you said it best! I couldn't be better. Let me know, ok?

Ardegas said...

People in Honduras don't travel outside very often, and they don't know these things aren't normal in other countries.

I'm a Honduran and I didn't know. I just assumed this is just the way things are.

The postal system works, but it's not reliable. I receive my check from the US regularly, through ordinary mail, but sometimes it takes too long. You won't see these problems being discussed in the Honduran media, they think that only the political circus is relevant, not the problems of the day-to-day life of Hondurans.

Anyways, now with Internet, you don't have to go to the bank to pay something. You can do it from your computer. But even then, there are limitations, many people don't have internet, they don't know how to pay online, they don't trust online payments, etc.

Anonymous said...

hey i was wondering how long would it take for me to recieve my letter my honduran friend told me he sent it like a two months ago and i havent recieved anything yet....but he has recieved my letters twice already