Corsairs from both countries
We had our own war back in 1969, I can remember it quite well I was eight years old and we lived in a very nice house a few kilometers out of the capital Tegucigalpa. The afternoon it started I was playing with my older brother in the huge yard when we heard shots and we saw it, A Honduras air force Corsair was machine gunning a Salvadoran TACA airlines plane, we didn't know what was happening, the answer was the TACA plane had been used by the Salvadoran air force to bomb the Tegucigalpa airport, luckily for us they failed.
Now this war has been called the Football War, the 100 hours war and some other names. The concept is that the war was started because of World Cup qualifier games, this is just not true. Tensions between the two countries had been brewing for years, El Salvador had about 50% more population and is 4.5 times smaller than Honduras, so many Salvadorans moved to Honduras to work the land. Of course over time Hondurans didn't like this and a lot of Salvadorans were mistreated and deported. Now I must say most Salvadorans are hard working people and find the most diverse ways to make a living, they have to, their country is small and in those days it was mostly owned, the land at least, by 14 families. So I guess that too many Salvadorans becoming too prosperous was not seen as good by Honduras who couldn't make ends meet.
So yes, Honduras was guilty of that, but El Salvador was the one who attacked, they had a better bigger army, plus Honduras has always been corrupt, we had batallions where there were supposed to be 500 to 600 soldiers but actually there were only 50, the commanders would steal the pay, the food budget of these fictional soldiers, so in reality our army did not have the men we thought it had. The Salvadorans made impressive gains in the first hours, but then our airforce took over, and even though El Salvador had Mustangs which were considered better than our Corsairs (they had corsairs to, in fact they had more airplanes) and they hired mercenary pilots we were able to destroy their major fuel tank deposits in airstrikes plus one of our pilots downed three mustangs and then we had complete air superiority. I guess he was the Ghost of Tegucigalpa, only he was real, not make believe.
I will tell you something which you might find far fetched, my Dad, who was not from Honduras always had a huge amount of maps, that was practically his hobby and he went to our military command and he told them what to bomb in San Salvador. When he was leaving that meeting with his maps the chief of the army and actually the President of the country asked him if he could give them the Salvadoran maps because they didn't have any.
Eventually the war finished after four days and all that remained was animosity between the two countries, Salvadorans were hated in Honduras, I had a grand aunt whose husband was from El Salvador he was a hard working and successful jeweler, well the mobs grabbed him, and walked him naked down the streets and put him along with a lot of others in the national stadium, Luckily my aunt was able to get him out through some friends of hers but his nerves were never the same after that.
A couple of days after that and at night we had a friend of my Dad's, a Salvadoran doctor who worked in the south show up at our house with his wife and two kids, they were afraid for their lives. My Dad was able to do two things for them, he was able to get them a refugee visa with the US embassy and he was able to convince the army to let them leave the country. We received a letter from them a few months later, they had settled in New York.
Now, this was a small shitty war with outdated weapons, both mustangs and corsairs were WWII planes, our soldiers had M1 rifles, and yet the casualties were high, over 3,000 most of them Honduran civilians. I read a book by a guy who used to work for United Fruit which logically sided with Honduras, they had no businesses in El Salvador, I think the book was called United Fruit a Banana Compny. In one chapter he says he devised a plan to buy AK-47 rifles and place them on dead Salvadoran soldiers to imply the Soviet Union was helping El Salvador. He says luckily the war ended before his plan was put into action. So there you have it war is misinformation.
After this war, El Salvador was faced with a huge problems about a quarter of a million Salvadorans who used to live in Honduras were back home, the pressure was great and they ended up with a civil war which displaced hundreds of thousands of them, most of them going to the USA as refugees, probably a God send for them, today there are about three million of them in the USA and some more in Europe, if they still lived in El Salvador the country would be overwhelmed, it is only about 24,000 square kilometers.
As for our relations with them there is still a distancing, El Salvador has a week long holiday in August and many of them come to vacation to the north coast of Honduras, one day at the pool hall this older guy came in with his grandson and told him, see this game, during my youth I used to live off of it. Well, a friend of mine who is a retired teacher asked him where are you from? When he said El Salvador, my friend just turned his back on him, so we aren't over it yet.
I have just written this so that you will know I have a small perception of what is happening in Ukraine, being invaded by a more powerful army, but at the same time knowing we are not completely guiltless. And also that I know that the ones who suffer most are civilians who most probably are not even aware of the causes of the conflict.
#honduras #elsalvador #football #war
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