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Kenya Zerón: the rebel with a migrant cause


A Honduran activist is the new councilor of Danlí, a city on the border with Nicaragua. The migration crisis that plagues the southern region of the country is one of its great challenges

Kenya Zerón, the new councilor of Danlí, a Honduran town on the border with Nicaragua, on July 5. Gonzalo Hohr

It is his first day, one of the most important.

On Tuesday, July 5, Kenia Zerón Rodríguez assumed the position of councilor in Danlí.

This municipality of Honduras, on the border with Nicaragua, concentrates the largest number of blind steps for irregular migratory transit.

And giving a humanitarian response to the complex situation from the municipality is one of its great challenges.

“I am very excited, but I also feel dizzy.

I know the area well, village by village, and its problems, but it is not the same to act as part of the citizen commissions than to be a civil servant”, she confesses while she rocks from one side to the other in the chair of the office that she opens.

The exaltation of the new position shines in her lively look, one that characterizes an electric, cheerful and talkative personality.

Added to the responsibilities of the recent commitment are the high expectations that her voters, witnesses of her activist career, have placed on her.

“Many people have followed the 20 years of my social struggle.

In fact, they are the ones who pushed me to the position, because I did not plan to present myself”, she admits.

“That acceptance is nice, but it also puts a lot of pressure on me.

I have gone from being an activist to having a voice as a councillor.

And I have to find a way to maintain that leadership as an official, while maintaining the humility and support of civil society.

Because before politics I am human, ”she asserts.

Devoted since she was a child to the defense of human rights, this Honduran, born into a family of limited resources, has made her lifestyle a dogma: "That my positions are consistent with my ideals, something not easy for those without privileges" , says Zerón, a woman in a country with the highest femicide rates in the Latin American region.

“I come from a very poor home, a mining town,” she insists repeatedly throughout the interview —because her origins are important, as is her physical appearance: dark skin and Afro-descendant features—.

“I was the only black girl at home, all my brothers have white skin, my mom has green eyes.

They are all very handsome, except me.

And I grew up with that conflict, until I turned it in my favor”, he declares with a very sincere pride.

In Honduras, the Afro-American population is one of the most discriminated against and hit by extreme poverty

In Honduras, the Afro-American population is one of the most discriminated against and hit by extreme poverty, as well as by the lack of access to economic, social and cultural rights.

“Danlí is a very conservative city, where the pure race and Spanish colonialism are still appealed to,” he emphasizes.

But the most skillful player does not always have the best cards, and games can be won through perseverance.

"If I'm not going to stand out for my beauty, at least I'm going to participate in everything," Zerón proposed, who began by raising his voice in the student governments and preparing "to be excellent academically," he says.

The girl who thought she was the ugly duckling began to get the best grades and graduated from school with honors.

“Since I was little I was the leader of my older brothers.

She had a great power of persuasion.

And, now that I look back, it is as if fate had prepared me during all this time for the responsibility that I am going to assume from politics: defending the rights of the most vulnerable, a population that is now represented by the migrants who They're coming," he announces.

Honduras is part of the human corridor that crosses Central America on its way to the United States, receiving waves of people in an irregular administrative situation

during years.

Since people in extreme vulnerability began to arrive en masse in her country, Zerón has been involved in caring for the victims of this social drama.

However, the humanitarian crisis had never worsened as much as it did a few months ago.

"We are going from bad to worse.

Also as a society.

Before there was more solidarity between people.

When the first groups of Haitians began to arrive, the neighbors sheltered them in their homes.

But, over time, they began to see it as a business, and now they charge for everything.

There are businessmen who have paid their debts thanks to migrant families, there are those who used to ride bicycles and now drive cars!” Zerón denounces “without mincing words”, as she herself points out.

The activist is known in the community for denouncing those who are profiting from the human drama: hotel owners, carriers, authorities... In March, she posted a video on her Facebook profile showing police officers trying to extort money from a family of Venezuelans.

“They called me to threaten me, telling me to be more careful about what I was posting.

Going directly in this country is too delicate.

I always express my opinion wherever I go and that here is a high-risk sport!

Telling the truth is getting into serious trouble…” she says, letting out an ironic laugh.

Humor does not prevail over fear, but camouflages it to try to dissipate it.

"I'm scared.

I've already lost a colleague and friend, we were inseparable, ”she clarifies, remembering councilor Juan Carlos Vega, shot to death in a cafe last April.

The activist, who today replaces her partner in office, accompanied him at the time of the murder and was a direct witness to the scene.

“When they shot me I went under the table, I was bathed in blood.

It was very strong and impossible to forget.

Being a human rights defender here is not easy, nor is being a public figure, there is no guarantee of security.

And less when one is a woman.

Of course I'm scared, but I don't show it.

I'm also not going to stop saying what I think, ”she warns, just before dishing out criticism against members of the opposition party.

Also against the one she integrates.

Education is the best weapon that the poor have and I knew how to take advantage of it

To the former, "for living in a constant double standard, appealing to Christianity, while launching speeches against abortion and saying nothing about Danlí being part of one of the departments with the highest levels of teenage pregnancies."

To the latter, "because while they organize luxury events to find solutions to the migratory emergency, people in inhumane conditions are getting wet outdoors with babies in their arms," ​​she says.

Zerón, who has gone from being a representative of the Network of Human Rights Promoters and Defenders to a councilor in the border city for the Liberal Party of Honduras, confesses: “I fought so that Xiomara [Castro, president of the country] was in the Government .

But the good doesn't take away from the bad!

If there is a performance that seems wrong to me, I criticize it, wherever it comes from”.

She also states that she doesn't want to "be a rebel without a cause."

She clarifies that if she rebels it is because "we have to find solutions to the problem we have" and assures that if it is the opposing party who gives them, she will support them.

“Migration, an urgent issue, is not on the agenda, it is not a priority, there is no interest.

As there has not been for other such serious issues in the region that require political maturity, ”she laments.

“We are one of the departments with the highest rate of domestic violence, we are the country of femicides, in which the police themselves discourage relatives from investigating the murder of a woman to avoid problems.

Everything here is rotten,” she declares.

And she lets out a sigh as if she's suddenly aware that the issues she's faced as an activist are complicated when they're part of a professional agenda.

“The challenge I have as a politician is enormous, a position to which, by the way, I have not arrived as a result of chance but of work, effort.

Education is the best weapon that the poor have and I knew how to take advantage of it.

I may seem arrogant, but I came from a poor


, a mining area.

And for me to be sitting in this chair today is an achievement, ”she proclaims in a sweet but firm voice, before a secretary enters the office and interrupts her.

Zerón then apologizes with a smile and gets up to attend to his team.

Sheathed in a tight black dress, she moves quickly, agile, like a

little ant

between the offices of the Municipal Mayor's Office.

She greets each official without her air of triumph dissipating from her face.

With her chin raised and her determined step, her figure disappears down the corridor, leaving behind her the echo of heels that stomp, as if evoking that "black girl" who walked through her town, always dreaming, the girl rebellious from the family, from the crazy ideas that she knew that life can leave you here or there, according to her words.

"And that's why when her opportunity comes, you have to hold on to it and not let go," she concludes.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2022-09-30

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