October 3, 2011 - Francisco Morazan Day

 – Honduras

He was a man of ideas and a man of action.

Francisco Morazan (who was born on this day in 1792, in what is now Honduras) wanted Central America to be one large nation. And, for a while, with efforts by Morazan and others, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador united to create the Central American Federation

Morazan put into law important liberties such as freedom of press, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion.

He limited the power of the Catholic church. Before Morazan, the only way to get married was through the church. Also, everyone had to pay tithe (money) to the Catholic church, by law. If Morazan hadn't made these changes, there would have been no true freedom of religion.

He promoted education. He introduced trial by jury.

He wanted unity and held progressive ideals.

Morazan rose to power through military action as well as through speeches and popular vote. His reforms made him some powerful enemies. An uneducated swineherd-turned-highwayman named Rafael Carrera fought his way into power with the help of priests, who played tricks to convince people that miracles had showed Carrera to be a protective angel from heaven. Carrera rallied his troops with the cries, “Long live religion! Death to foreigners!”

The fragile federation was ripped apart into five separate—and often warring—nations, and Morazan was exiled. Later, he was asked to come back and help Central America fight off the British. Still, the in-fighting between the nations ended with an attack against and arrest of Morazan, and in 1842 he was executed.

Morazan is honored on money, stamps, names of cities and streets and parks, and in other ways. Plays and books have been written about him, and there are statues and busts of him in Central America and also Spain, South America, and the U.S. In Honduras, today's holiday celebrates his birthday. (It is also called “Day of the Soldier.”)

Early residents of Honduras included the Maya.
Learn more about Honduras at Mayan Kids and the National Geographic website. 

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