By: Nicole Gunter
The story of Nora Buchanan
Nora Buchanan is an international artist and human rights activist from Honduras. She entered The National School of Fine Arts in 1998. Nora’s art is concentrated in plastic arts based on the abstract style. Her works are a spontaneous and constant evolution with different mediums and forms using primarily nail polish and acetone. “You don´t only dream when you are sleeping. The building and transformations of reality are created when we dream while being awake,” said Buchanan.
Through her art, she silently protests the massive and senseless murdering of innocent citizens. She feels a sense of responsibility to bring awareness as her platform. This not only serves as a means of protest but also of remembrance and closure for the victims’ families. Nora uses her creative passion to shed light on this serious and prevailing human rights issue in Honduras, bringing light to a dark place through art.
Nora is from Comayaguela, the sister city to Tegucigalpa. Both serve as the national capital of Honduras. Tegucigalpa is the most populated city in Honduras. It is known for its precarious airport which requires pilots to perform tricky maneuvers while landing and taking off because of the extremely short runway and the situation of the city in the valley between mountains.
The Honduran government lacks the resources to fully address crime and violence in their cities. According to Overseas Security Advisory Council, Honduran has one of the highest crime rates in the world with US State Department travel advisories. The monthly average income per household is roughly under $300. With highly impoverished urbanization and lack of proper infrastructure, coupled with an extremely high rate of little to no education, crime rates are skyrocketing.
Just to give you a clue, here are some stats: The National Violence Observatory is a group that monitors the crime index at the National Independent University of Honduras. They report 20 people are assassinated daily and affirms that 91 out of every 100,000 citizens are violently murdered. The population is approximately 1.2 million according to the 2013 census, that equates to over 1,100 of the 1.2 million murdered. Femicide, the brutal murdering of women. It is reported that one woman is killed every 15 hours. And 700 children reported murdered since January 2014 (Casa Alianza). All stats are considered seriously underreported.
The murder rate has reached epidemic proportions. As an effort to raise awareness, Nora started a 24-hour project where she places crosses with the names of victims along the roadways, in one city that quickly expanded to three of the most violent cities in Honduras. She started with only 60 crosses, which quickly turned to 463. Her project, Regreso a las Seis (Back at Six), meaning you walk out the door and say, “I’ll be back at 6,” and never come home, is now a national campaign to silently protest the deaths of these men, women and children, shedding light on a dark and pervasive problem.
At the heart of her campaign, she said, “An educated country scares off corruption.” Previously, education was not mandatory, readily available or too costly for private education. However, in 2014 the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez Alvarado, signed a law for an education program that provides mandatory school beginning K-9th grade. This includes education for parents and those not educated 15 years and above. Schooling for k-9th is free. After the 9th grade, schooling is cost prohibitive. With the efforts of Nora Buchanan, through her art, she hopes to help bridge the gap between the senseless deaths and education.
Interpreters: Doris Cabezas (Cuba, retired DOD interpreter), Diana Cabezas (Honduras, IT Specialist and interpreter)