It sounds like a bad black buddy movie: Danny Glover, Cedric the Entertainer, a California politician and an exiled revolutionary head to Honduras to witness the swearing-in of a small city’s first black mayor. Only one problem: The revolutionary was exiled from Honduras and his return has been met with death threats, so Glover, the Cali politician and one of the original members of The Kings of Comedy will escort their exiled friend as protection.
What could go wrong?
Hopefully nothing. But this scene is actually going to unfold as soon as Sacramento City Councilman Allen Warren, Glover and Cedric head to Honduras with Luther Castillo Harry, who, the Sacramento Bee notes, hopes to be president of the country someday.
Here’s how the Bee explains this difficult tale that sounds almost like fiction:
Harry, 38, fled to Sacramento after his political fight against government corruption and the repression of his black minority ethnic group led to threats of death and imprisonment in Honduras.
This week, Harry will travel back to his country following a deeply contested and violent November presidential election that many international observers and Hondurans say was rigged by the incumbent president and alleged winner, Juan Orlando Hernandez.
Because many Hondurans believe that the election was stolen from them, massive demonstrations are planned for Hernandez’s inauguration. The Sacramento Bee reports that there have already been massive demonstrations that have left at least 30 people dead, with many of those protesters calling for a new election.
Harry and his American posse will be on Honduras’ coast in the tropical port city of La Ceiba, population of 200,000, for the inauguration of Jerry Sabio, the city’s first black mayor. However, University of California, Santa Cruz, professor Dana Frank, an expert on Honduras, told the Bee that Harry is always in danger when he’s home.
“It’s always dangerous for Luther to be in his country. Anybody who speaks out against that government is always at risk of being killed at any moment,” Frank said. “The more public attention you can get from powerful people in the north, the better so that these things don’t happen under the cover of darkness.”
The hope amid all the planning to accompany Harry home is that the more prominent the companion, the less likely detractors will be to kill him. While Frank doesn’t know Harry personally, she told the Bee that he’s a well-known “charismatic figure that has legitimacy in the opposition and symbolizes numerous struggles and social justice.”
The Bee explained the struggles that led to Harry fleeing the country:
Harry is part of a minority black ethnic group in Honduras called the Garifuna, a mixed-race people descended from escaped West African slaves and indigenous Caribs. As a people, they have long endured poverty and discrimination.
Part of that repression is economic, said Harry. The Garifuna settled in the 1800s on the north coast of Honduras on land granted to them by the government. Once too remote to have value, the area’s white-sand beaches have now become desirable for tourism and the surrounding land for palm oil plantations. Some Garifuna have been forced out, Harry said.
“You could equate it with the civil rights struggle of the ’60s,” said Warren. “The blacks and the Garifunas are getting a seat at the table and Luther has been a mover of that for 20 years.”
Once exiled, Harry found himself in Sacramento, where he struck up a friendship with Warren and the others. Both Warren and Glover know what they are getting into, but if they’re nervous, they don’t sound like it. Warren told the Bee that he’s excited to be part of a larger social movement.
“I’m trying to shake things up a little bit,” said Warren, adding that the trip is “to make a statement about democracy and vote manipulation ... human rights and decency and discriminating [against] people based on culture or race.”
Glover noted that he sees this as an “extraordinary” opportunity.
“It’s significant in that I am able to bear witness to something that is extraordinary,” Glover told the Bee. “To be at this historic moment to not only celebrate the election of the new mayor but also to celebrate African-descendant people is very important.”
Let’s just hope that this movie has a beautiful ending.
Read more at the Sacramento Bee.