ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
People in Honduras are hoping their lives will get back to normal now that the country has elected a new president. As the political crisis has unfolded there over the past six months, it has affected the lives and livelihoods of many people with close ties to the U.S.
NPR's Jason Beaubien has been traveling around Honduras. And in one town along the coast, he came across a man who you might not even guess is Honduran.
Mr. HAROLD JAMES: My name is Harold James. And right now we're in Taylor. We're here close to Cesar Mariscos tourist area. And me, I sell souvenirs for a store called Casa Del Sol.
JASON BEAUBIEN: If Harold James sounds like a New Yorker, that's because he is. His father worked for the United Fruit Company in Honduras in the 1960s. When James was just six, his father packed him onto an Italian cargo ship headed for the States. He grew up in New York City, joined the U.S. Army and then got deported at the age of 38. Now he sells bracelets, earrings and necklaces next to the beach. James says the political crisis in Honduras has been scaring away tourists.
Mr. JAMES: Usually on a Saturday this place is packed here. The beach is usually packed. And there are plenty of buses out here, at least 10 buses. Now it's not even one bus today.
BEAUBIEN: In June, the Honduran military ousted President Manuel Zelaya at gunpoint and deported him to Costa Rica. Zelaya snuck back into the country in September. He remains holed up in the Brazilian embassy and insists that he's the sole legitimate president of the country.
The impulsive, leftist politician alienated many people here in his three-and-a-half years in power and is accused by his detractors of being a lackey of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. James says Zelaya's ongoing fight to get back into office has only been hurting ordinary people.
Mr. JAMES: When it first started, they had curfews. Two, three o'clock in the afternoon you had to be home, all the businesses had to be closed and that took a very hard toll on businesses like mine.
BEAUBIEN: James' family, like many here, straddles the U.S. and Honduras. More than a million Hondurans, out of a country of just over seven million people, currently live and work in the States. And the U.S. is Honduras' largest trading partner. The tropical nation sends billions of dollars worth of textiles, fruit and coffee north each year. While other members of his family go back and forth between the two countries, James can never legally return to the States.
Mr. JAMES: I came back because I wasn't following the rules in the United States.
BEAUBIEN: After growing up in New York City and spending all of his adult life in the U.S., he was deported for selling drugs. He says he was a small-time dealer.
Mr. JAMES: I never thought I would come back here like that because I never really even wanted to come back at all. You know, my family, they come back here all the time, but me, I had no interest in this country.
BEAUBIEN: But because he was born here and never got U.S. citizenship, this rough-around-the-edges Honduran beach town is now his home. He says he wishes he could read Spanish better, but at least he can speak it. Some people might be angry with the U.S. for casting them out, but James isn't.
Mr. JAMES: I'm more mad at myself because the U.S. government gave me a hell of an education. So I can never be mad with the government, just with myself, you know? U.S. for me is one of the greatest countries in the world. I don't care what anybody says.
BEAUBIEN: Now, he'd like to see some improvements with his new government in Honduras.
Jason Beaubien, NPR News.
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