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Devoted to Democracy: Ensuring Integrity in Honduras’ Elections (Part 2 of 2)
By UUSC Staff on November 26, 2021
In Part 1 of this series, we explored a panel discussion with a UUSC partner in Honduras on the importance of the upcoming elections on Sunday, November 28, 2021. In this final installment of the series, we examine how UUSC is supporting the democratic process in Honduras and ensuring that the elections are conducted with integrity and fairness.
On Sunday, November, 28, the nation of Honduras will hold its general elections. These elections are pivotal for the country as for the last 12 years, Honduras has been ruled by the National Party, a political party known for its corruption, violence, and dysfunctional leadership. However, UUSC will be sending a staff member to Honduras to participate in election monitoring to ensure fairness when people go to the polls.
In 2009, the National Party came to power in a coup d’état that the Obama administration supported. This was a direct affront to the U.S. principles of democracy and fairness and the administration’s affirmation of the National Party’s installed president, Roberto Micheletti, infuriated the leaders of other Central American nations. For more than a decade, Honduras has been rife with political incompetence, corruption, violence, poverty, income and wealth inequality, despotism, and a citizenry clearly dissatisfied with its leadership. Anyone who spoke out against the government, from journalists to activists, was silenced and the end of 2017 would see more than 22 people dead after violent protests happened in the wake of another fraudulent election that kept the National Party in power.
Honduran people have left the nation in droves, dissatisfied with the high rates of crime, violence, gang activity, and the clear collusion between the Honduran government and corporations. The judicial system was—and still is—rigged against those without money and power. President Juan Orlando Hernández has even been linked to drug trafficking; his brother was convicted of the crime in the United States and will serve a life sentence.
Throughout the nation, land grabs have become common. Wealthy corporations invade and occupy lands for the purpose of extractive projects like oil, gas, and mineral mining. The pollution and disruption these operations have on the communities has forced thousands to flee. Those who do stay are subject to the whims of the corporate entities that dictate how the land will be used. The Guapinol water defenders, a group of men and women in Honduras’ Bajo Aguán valley who have spent the last three years fighting a corporation threatening the community’s fresh water sources, are a clear example of the David and Goliath battle between communities and corporations in Honduras. This group has been charged with an array of crimes for their acts of resistance and several are still enmeshed in the judicial system as they wait for their trials to make their way through the nebulous court system—a system already deeply beholden to corporations.
Honduras is one of the most dangerous nations for environmental defenders and numerous people have been disappeared or killed for their advocacy.
In 2021, more than two dozen candidates for office have been killed in a year that has seen a massive amount of violence inflicted upon those who oppose the National Party. Xiomara Castro of Libertad y Refundación party (Libre) has emerged as the most popular candidate for the presidency, which has undoubtedly made leaders in the National Party nervous. Violence and disinformation have been used to either dissuade people from voting or to convince entire communities that the National Party’s platform is one that will better serve Honduras’ people—a contention disproved by the last 12 years of the party’s rule.
UUSC human rights researcher Leonardo Valenzuela Pérez will be visiting Honduras as an election monitor as part of an international effort to ensure that the elections are conducted with integrity and in alignment with the most basic principles of democracy. UUSC’s hope is that placing international attention on Honduras’ elections will ensure that the electoral process is respected.
Photo Credit: Foro de Mujeres por la Vida