More than 5 million citizens in Honduras They are called to vote this Sunday in the eleventh general elections since the return, in 1980, of the constitutional order to the country, where 40 years later poverty, unemployment, insecurity and corruption, among other scourges, have worsened.
Fourteen political parties and twelve presidential candidates will participate in the contest, of which the current mayor of Tegucigalpa, Nasry Asfura, of the ruling National Party, and Xiomara Castro, leader of the Partido Libertad y Refundación (Libre), in alliance with the National Opposition Union of Honduras (Unoh), are the candidates with the greatest chances of victory, according to polls.
Third figure Yanni Rosenthal, of the Liberal Party, which split after the coup of June 28, 2009 to the then president Manuel Zelaya, husband Xiomara Castro and who came to power on January 27, 2006 under the banner of that same century-old political institution.
After the coup, Zelaya withdrew from the Liberal Party and since 2011 is the general coordinator of Libre, with whose emblem his wife seeks, for the third time in a row, to be the president of the country.
THE TWO MAJOR FORCES SAY THEY WILL WIN
Hondurans arrive at Sunday’s elections amid uncertainty and fear that acts of violence will occur with any presidential candidate who wins and burdened by poverty, unemployment, insecurity, corruption, drug trafficking, poor education services and health, among other long-standing scourges that the rulers of the last 40 years have not resolved.
Libre activists say that, according to their own polls, they are fourteen points ahead of Asfura, whose activists also claim that the National Party will win the elections with a difference similar to what Castro’s followers say.
The fear of many Hondurans is that there will be violence, as occurred after the November 2017 elections, when the current president of the country, Juan Orlando Hernández, was re-elected as head of the National Party, which has been in power for three consecutive terms.
“We are afraid that there will be violence, that our business will be burned”, José Raudales, owner of a small cafe located in an important commercial area of Tegucigalpa, told Efe.
At the time of speaking with Efe, Raudales had just quoted materials for the protection of the facade of his business “to be ready in case those who lose come to destroy.”
The violence after the 2017 elections arose after the denunciations by Xiomara Castro and other opposition forces that Hernández had won with “fraud”, in addition to having sought re-election even when the Constitution does not allow it in any way, although he he looked for her after an interpretation of the Supreme.
Analysts agree that violence could break out again in the country, because if it wins Asfura or Castro, neither will be willing to acknowledge the other’s triumph, only if the winner’s difference is irrefutable, such as an advantage of five% upwards.
Castro She also lost the 2013 elections, with “fraud”, according to her, against the National Party, led by Juan Orlando Hernández, whose opponents have been claiming that he intends to stay in power for longer, which he has repeatedly denied and He has said that he will deliver it on January 27, 2022, “to the winner.”
RETURN TO THE CONSTITUTIONAL ORDER HAS NOT REPRESENTED PROGRESS
More than 5 million of the 9.5 million inhabitants of Honduras have been summoned to the general elections on Sunday, a country that returned to constitutional order in April 1980 after almost 20 years of military regimes.
Uncertainty, and even doubts about whether or not there would be elections, arose among Hondurans and the international community, which is closely watching the process, as a result of the campaign of confrontation and incitement to hatred between the main political forces in contention.
Fear of an eventual outbreak of violence after the elections prompted many Hondurans to rush to popular markets and supermarkets to stock up on food, water and other necessities.
After 40 years of the return to constitutional order and ten general elections, of which five were won by the Liberal Party and five by the National Party, Hondurans have not seen the changes they hoped for, nor have all the promises made to them fulfilled.
40 years ago, poverty affected 60% of the population, today more than 70% of Hondurans are poor, according to public and private sources.
5 KEYS TO UNDERSTANDING ELECTIONS IN HONDURAS
1.- War in networks
“As in various parts of the world, social networks are being used in the campaign with manipulative messages, with messages inciting hatred,” expert Eduardo Domínguez, in charge of verifying data for the newspaper El Heraldo, told AFP.
According to a Time magazine publication, which cites the cybersecurity firm Nisos, coordinated waves of messages have been detected from fake Twitter accounts, with disinformation.
These messages go against the opposition candidate Xiomara Castro (Free Party, left), and favor the ruling National Party (PN, right), which is running Nasry Asfura as its candidate.
In April 2020, Twitter removed 3,104 fake accounts linked to the government.
2.- Drug trafficking, corruption and violence
President Juan Orlando Hernández himself has been identified as a co-perpetrator in the crime of drug trafficking, by a prosecutor in New York.
His brother “Tony” Hernández is serving a life sentence in the United States for this crime. The president rejects the charges and assures that they are false accusations of drug lords that his government extradited.
A capo of the Los Cachiros cartel also assured that he bribed former president Manuel Zelaya, the husband of candidate Castro. Remarks that he denies.
And candidate Yani Rosenthal, from the Liberal Party, is running after serving three years in jail in the United States for laundering drug money.
Of the 13 candidates for the presidency, one was arrested less than a month ago, investigated for drug trafficking and homicides.
Meanwhile, the official Asfura He is being investigated for embezzling funds from the capital city.
In one of the most violent countries in Latin America, in the last year at least 31 people have been murdered in crimes related to the political campaign.
“I am deeply concerned about what we are seeing in Honduras. Elections have not yet taken place, but political violence has already reached disturbing levels, ”said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet recently.
3.- The ghost of “communism”
Castro She is the wife of former President Zelaya, who was overthrown in 2009 by a civic-military alliance, after his rapprochement with the government of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela.
His opponents brand Castro a “communist” and have released a video from 2015 that records his participation and speech in Caracas, during a tribute to Chávez.
She assures that she promotes “democratic socialism” and wants to restore relations with China. Honduras currently recognizes Taiwan.
4.- Abortion and equal marriage
In a conservative country and where abortion is completely prohibited, Xiomara Castro creates problems for himself by proposing that it be decriminalized in cases of rape, danger of the mother’s life or malformations.
“This campaign is endangering our lives, Xiomara walks with people who protect her but we, human rights defenders, no, and in the neighborhoods they attack us, calling us abortionists,” denounced Suyapa Martínez, coordinator of the Center for Studies on the Woman of Honduras (CEM-H). “It is a call to kill us,” he lamented.
Although equal marriage is not in his plan, Castro is open to a citizen consultation. And it raises a law of gender identity.
“Honduras continues to be a homophobic conservative country, sexual references should not be a campaign issue. We blame it for being used as a flag of struggle, ”said Sandra Zambrano, an LGBTI activist.
5.- Fear: Stock up like a hurricane
In 2017, when President Hernández was re-elected amid accusations of fraud, protests broke out that left some thirty people dead and destroyed.
Against this background, on this occasion, some Hondurans have filled supermarkets to stock up, fearing that a social upheaval after the results will force them to stay home.
“Hopefully there are no riots (…), we are the ones affected,” says Wilson García, a vegetable seller in a market in the capital.
Source: EFE and AFP