Siege and Death of Chief Lempira

Chief Lempira, cornered in a shallow cave on the hillside above La Esperanza by invading Spanish forces in the early 1500s, managed to elude capture following a prolonged campaign.  After the murdering Spaniards began their conquest of the native peoples of Honduras, Chief Lempira of the Lenca people unified more than 200 tribes to form a resistance army of more than 30,000 indigenous warriors.  Unable to conquer him militarily the cowardly Spaniards lured the brave cacique warrior into an ostensible peace-talking trap and assassinated him in 1537 at the nearby aldea of Erandique after which all resistance crumbled.  At “La Gruta” in La Esperanza a shrine was established in his honor at the site of the cave and is maintained and celebrated by the Lenca people to this date.  With my friend Robynn I climbed the Salvador Dali-inspired stone steps up the side of the hill to the grotto overlooking the green pastoral valley and city below.  Ringed by mountaintops, the departamento capital twin cities of La Esperanza/Intibuca occupy the highest valley plain in the country and the weather is the coolest in Honduras.  It reminded me of Seattle.  I revisited La Esperanza this week to collaborate with my fellow PCV over a Maternal Health/OB Emergencies workshop we’re putting on for the new class of PC aspirantes who are in La Paz for two months of training before they are accepted as Peace Corps Volunteers.  The Lenca people remain very much a presence and power here in the heart of Lenca country, for the name of Chief Lempira translates from the Lenca language to “Lord of the Mountains” and the twin city of Intibuca is a Lenca name, and … the national currency is called the Lempira.

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About Fortunato Velasquez

Fortunato Velasquez received his Registered Nurse's license from the State of California during the month that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. On February 15, 2020, my friend and the director of the Fundación Señor San José in La Paz, La Paz, Honduras, Sister Edith Suazo Fernandez died at the age of 47. This a video of her funeral.

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