Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Finally! A New Culture Minister

The circus at the Secretaria de Culura, Artes, y Deportes (SCAD) continued all through the day yesterday, and even into the evening, but finally, Porfirio Lobo Sosa named a new Minister of Culture, only it's not who you think!

Last night around midnight, Lobo Sosa called Tulio Mariano Gonzalez to inform him he was the pick to be Minister of Culture.

The day, however, was crazy. Bernard Martinez returned to the offices of SCAD and said he was the Minister again because he had not heard anything official from Lobo Sosa. Tony Sierra issued a statement saying he had been called by a high ranking member of the Lobo Sosa staff on Friday and told to start Monday as interim Minister of Culture.

From the time of his arrival early in the morning, Martinez was accompanied by 13 Garifuna supporters, members of the Alianza 214 and Gemelos de Honduras, among others. They held dances and burned incense, smoked cigars, and beat drums on the fifth floor of SCAD's office building. El Tiempo reports that even Bernard Martinez danced for several minutes. Israel Senteno, head of the Gemelos de Honduras told the press this was an attempt to eliminate the bad vibrations of the government, and of Tony Sierra, Godofredo Fajardo, and the SCAD union in particular.

Apparently it did almost drive out many of the employees, who complained as the building filled with the cigar smoke and incense. Melba Bardales, head of the SCAD employees union said:
Enough of the circus.

But it did not drive out Tony Sierra, who showed up at the SCAD offices about midday from Comayagua where he had been inaugurating a performance of a dance group. In an attempt at re-establishing good will, went up to the fifth floor to meet with Martinez. He shook Martinez's hand, but was given a frigid reception by the Garifuna there so he left to go to Lobo Sosa's offices.

At 1:30 pm Sierra showed up for what he thought would be a swearing in ceremony at the presidential offices, making him Minister of Culture, but was informed there would be no swearing in. He was interim Minister of Culture because the law says when the Minister isn't present, a Vice Minister fills the office; they told him this and sent him on his way.

Martinez had a meeting there later in the day and was formally told of his dismissal.

Then at midnight, Tulio Mariano Gonzalez received a call from Lobo Sosa's office informing him he had been named the new Minister of Culture. He told the press:
I am sure we can move ahead to construct new agendas, perfecting the existence and elevating this ministry to the level it should have.
Gonzalez was most recently a member of the Central American Parliament (Parlacen) where he was Honduras's representative on the elections commission. He has also been a Vice President at the National Agricultural Development Bank. He is a National Party activist. Did I mention he's Afro-Honduran?

So, not a solution for Lobo Sosa's "government of reconciliation" problem, but we can hope more seriousness for this critical Ministry.

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