Honduran interior minister makes a stop in Waukegan
By Judy Masterson firstname.lastname@example.org | @JudyReport October 3, 2013 5:46PM
Honduran Interior Minister Africo Madrid, right, and Juan Martinez, an official with the Honduran Consulate in Chicago, give an interview to La Campeona, an Internet radio station in Waukegan. Hosting the program is Raul Vargas. | Judy Masterson/Sun-Times Media
Honduras is home to about 4.5 million people. It also lays claim to the largest coral reef in the Atlantic Ocean. The Mesoamerican Reef extends nearly 700 miles from the Yucatan Peninsula to the Bay of Islands in Honduras.
More than 500 species of fish and 65 types of coral live within the reef system.
Updated: December 3, 2013 2:41AM
The interior minister of Honduras, Africo Madrid, stopped by Waukegan this week to campaign for the man he hopes will be next president of his country − Juan Orlando Hernández. Waukegan is an important stop on Madrid’s more than week-long U.S. tour, which also includes stops in Washingon, D.C., New York City, New Orleans, Boston, Florida and Houston.
“Waukegan is the biggest Honduran community in Illinois,” said Madrid, who hopped out of a truck at Grand Avenue and Butrick Street on Wednesday, Oct. 2, and headed into the offices of the Spanish-language Internet radio station La Campeona for an interview. Juan Martinez, an official with the Honduran Consulate in Chicago, who accompanied Madrid, estimated the Honduran population in Waukegan at 12,000.
Expatriates can vote in Honduran elections, including the Nov. 24 national election, which will elect the president, members of parliament and local office-holders.
Madrid credits current Honduran President Porfirio Lobo Sosa, a member of the National Party, like the man who hopes to succeed him, with strengthening the country’s government, growing its economy and pushing for reconciliation after a military coup in 2009 that toppled former leftist President Manuel Zelaya. Sosa was elected in 2010.
“We are working to bring improvements to infrastructure and institutions, to make the country safer and more secure,” Madrid said.
Across the street from the radio station, reception goers awaited Madrid at a bar decorated with campaign posters of Hernández. Organizer Margaret Carrasco of Waukegan, a Mexican-American, said she visited Honduras during a primary election last year.
“The election was held on a Sunday and the streets were so jammed, you couldn’t move,” Carrasco said. “Everyone was out campaigning for their candidates. I loved it. In Honduras, 99.9 percent of people vote.”
“Hondurans who live here still have relatives and investments in our country,“ Madrid said. “They’re interested in Honduras. They’re worried about the next election. If we return to the past, the past could repeat itself, like in 2009.”
Also running for the Honduran presidency is Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, wife of the deposed president and Mauricio Villeda, an attorney and son of another former president.
Madrid’s father served in the U.S. Army. His mother, a native of Charleston, South Carolina, now lives in Dallas, Texas.
“My mother was an American immigrant in Honduras,” Madrid said and added, “Hondurans in the United States are hoping for immigration reform.
“A lot of people are waiting for change and this is the time to make a difference,” he said.
Madrid said his country is also looking for help in fighting the drug trafficking and related violence that plagues Honduras and other central American countries, including Mexico.
“We’re fighting it,” Madrid said. “We need the support of the American government.”