In an election widely observed by the international community, in a nation with a clear deficit of democracy, how was the National Party able to manufacture the results? Here’s an attempt, in five parts, to address that question.
If there was a proven track record in which election monitoring carried sanctions against electoral fraud and guaranteed that the will of the people is expressed through elections, then who could argue that monitoring isn’t a good thing? But there is no such record. In all too many cases “political, economic, commercial, and even partisan interests” prevail.
“I think it’s necessary for the social movement to be clear that our role shouldn’t be an extension of a political party,” said Berta Cáceres. She hopes the Platform will make progress on and raise awareness about pressing issues that fell by the wayside – or were never on the agenda – for others who focused their energies on working towards the elections. “It doesn’t mean we can’t work with Libre on strategic issues.”
Leo Gabriel, Austrian journalist and member of the EU-EOM, stated that the vast majority of the members of the mission were in strong disagreement with the preliminary report. According to him, the disagreements about what happened on November 24 provoked a heated internal debate. Nonetheless, political calculations and business interests prevailed and [the EU-EOM] preferred to close their eyes and ignore the obvious changes made to the results and the violation of the Honduran people’s will as expressed at the ballot box.
The sky over Tegucigalpa was filled with smoke on Tuesday afternoon outside the headquarters of the Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH). The students, outraged by the fraudulent election of President Juan Orlando Hernández, gathered at noon to hold an assembly inside the university. As soon as they took to the streets, there was a confrontation with the police.
The tallying and transmission of voting results from the November 24 general elections continue, but so do widespread reports of fraud and intimidation throughout Honduras. Two political parties are not recognizing the results, announcing challenges in the courts and in the streets. “They don’t want an example to be set in Honduras where the people kick the oligarchy out at the ballot box and where the system changes in favor of the people,” said Libre party activist Nelson Orestes Canales Vásquez.
“Our people have awakened, and we’re not going to give in to those who want take away what is ours as indigenous Lenca people,” said Francisco Sanchez Garcia, President of the Indigenous Council of the Council of Indigenous and Popular Organization of Honduras (COPINH).
The judges in the Criminal Division of the Supreme Court of Justice of Honduras rendered their decision on Novemeber 5 in the case of Jose Isabel “Chavelo” Morales, partially siding with his lawyers’ appeal. The judges annulled the conviction and the 20-year sentence and they ordered that he be released from prison, but they have returned the case to the lower court in Trujillo for retrial. Most significantly, Chavelo can remain free during this new process.
“It’s really uncertain what’s going to happen with the elections,” said Karen Spring, a Canadian human rights activist living in Honduras. “It’s a lot less likely for [Canada] to have a government – and the political conditions and the economic conditions – in [Honduras] that would approve the free trade agreement or would allow it to be approved.”
“In this country, elections aren’t going to change anything,” said Francisco. “If Xiomara wins, but Libre doesn’t have enough votes (in Congress) to stop Juan Orlando (JOH) then what is to stop there being another coup, and even if Libre does have enough to stop that, who controls the military? All we can do is keep struggling to keep what little we have. We have no other options.”