World4 questions to understand the crisis in Congress in...

4 questions to understand the crisis in Congress in Honduras, the first of Xiomara Castro (before becoming president)

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All in a single weekend: blows, shouts, the mobilization of hundreds of people and the fragmentation of the party that won the most recent elections.

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Honduras is the scene of a new political crisis, as a result of a struggle over who will preside over the next National Congress.

Currently, two boards of directors are disputing the legality to direct the work of the legislature in the Central American country.

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The situation occurs before the elected president, Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, sworn in on Thursday.

The epicenter of the problem It is the very formation of the president, the Partido Libertad y Refundación (Libre), which puts its leadership to the test. The struggle for power caused protests in Tegucigalpa and an altercation between deputies in Congress, whose images went around the world.

With these four questions we explain the latest events.

1. What happened in Congress?

The Honduran National Congress descended into chaos on Friday after an interim Board of Directors was elected that did not have the support of President-elect Castro.

The session was marked by blows, boos and shouts between the deputies of different political factions.

The Board of Directors was elected with 85 votes in favor (a minimum of 65 was necessary), among which there were 20 legislators from the party of the newly elected head of state, who closed ranks with the opposition National Party and other minority groups.

As president of the Congress they chose Jorge Calix, who also militates in Libre. The legislator and the directive were ratified as leaders of Parliament this Sunday.

Supporters of Xiomara Castro enter the National Congress to show support for the pact with the PSH.

With their actions, the Libre deputies did not respect a pre-election pact between the future president and Salvador Nasralla’s Salvador Party of Honduras (PSH).

Given this, the rest of the Libre deputies met with members of the PSH and several alternate deputies to appoint their own provisional Board of Directors. To preside over the legislative power they selected on Sunday Luis Redondo, from the Nasralla party.

2. What did the covenant consist of?

An agreement prior to the elections between these last two political groups established that Nasralla would not stand in the elections as a candidate for president if Libre guaranteed him the vice presidency of Honduras and the possibility of electing the leadership of Congress.

Several Libre deputies said publicly that they were not taken into account in the negotiations. Due to discontent, they were absent from a meeting called by the president last week, prior to the vote in the legislative plenary session, which was an omen of division.

Castro won last 2021 with 1.7 million votes, but Libre only obtained 50 seats in Congress, while the PSH another 10. Between them they did not reach a simple majority to endorse the pact.

Given this, the 20 deputies from Libre joined 44 from the National Party, along with the minorities, to promote Cálix and his own Board of Directors.

The reaction of Castro and Libre was immediate, and on the same Friday they expelled 18 of the 20 legislators from the party, after two retracted.

3. What has Xiomara Castro said?

“The betrayal has been consummated”, were the first words of the president-elect on Friday, on her Twitter account.

Hundreds of people gathered outside Congress after Xiomara Castro called for a "vigil."

Later, that same day when he announced the expulsion of the 18 deputies, he singled them out for allegedly allying with the “dictatorship” of the National Party, which had been in power for the past 12 years, the last eight with Juan Orlando Hernández at the helm.

In addition, he called a vigil outside Congress, in which hundreds of people gathered and which lasted until Sunday morning, when his co-religionists met to elect Redondo.

This caused Cálix’s ratification to take place at the Bosques de Zambrano country club, north of Tegucigalpa. According to Cálix, the new Parliament that he presides over will be “free of interference, free of impositions”. And he added that they guarantee Hondurans to be “vigilant that the legislative agenda of our president Xiomara Castro is fulfilled.”

“Together we are going to tell those traitors that they will not pass and that the will of this people must be respected. Just like Judas, they have been sold for a few coins,” said Castro, wife of former President Manuel Zelaya, during the vigil.

The elected president must be sworn in on January 27 before the head of the legislative power. On Friday, she announced that she was not willing to swear in front of Cálix, so she would do so before a judge.

This Sunday, however, he supported Redondo’s selection and invited him to the protocol events.

4. How do these events affect your future presidency?

Xiomara Castro is the first female president in the country's history.

For the analyst Tiziano Breda, of the International Crisis Group, it was to be expected that Castro’s presidency would be “uphill” in the absence of a majority in Congress.

The expert believed that what happened over the weekend is a test of “additional stress for his leadership, which is put to the test days before beginning his term.”

“Besides, it’s a reality check for the population, which will probably have to resize its expectations of change [ante la llegada del nuevo gobierno]”, Held.

In his opinion, the conflict could have two consequences. The first, “an institutional crisis” like the one the country suffered after the 2009 coup, which deposed Manuel Zelaya, the husband of the new president. And the second, in the absence of a short-term solution, the increase in citizen discontent.

According to Breda, if the problem is not resolved with agreements between the political parties, he will have to go to the judicial system, which “It does not enjoy much confidence on the part of the population”.

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