Xiomara Castro Brings Hope to Hondurans

Álvaro Verzi Rangel
Monday’s news links – Nov. 29, 2021 - featured imageHondurans elected the leader of the Partido Libertad y Refundación (Libre), Xiomara Castro, as the new president of the nation and successor to Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH), questioned for corruption and drug trafficking, whose National Party was ousted after 12 years of power, reached after the “soft coup” against Manuel Zelaya, coincidentally the husband of the elected president.

During the elections, no major incidents took place, and with an important turnout of around 69 percent, the preliminary results were almost 20 points of difference over the official candidate and mayor of the capital, Tegucigalpa, Nasry Asfura. From this moment on, the electoral authorities have up to 30 days to present the final results of the elections, which gives rise to the most diverse conjectures.

Castro, with more than half of the votes counted, obtained 53.61% against 33.85% for Asfura and 9.23% for the candidate of the Liberal Party, Yani Rosenthal, a member of a family of bankers, convicted in the United States for money laundering, obtained a necessary forcefulness at the polls to face the government of the first woman president of Honduras.

Her government will undoubtedly be complex because of the work that needs to be accomplished, and because of the position that Xiomara Castro herself has already taken, she will face from the outset harassment of constituted powers and the United States. The Joe Biden administration has returned to look at Latin America as the USA backyard.

There are many questions on how Xiomara Castro will face her government, how she will stop the continental correlation of forces, in the face of a beaten OAS and with a progressive axis Mexico-Buenos Aires that overshadows it. The threats are clear, but for now, it should be noted that the victory has all the necessary forcefulness for new hope for Honduras

Hernández, the current president, who was re-elected in 2017 amid complaints of fraud and violations of the Constitution, is concerned since Asfura, his right hand named in the Pandora Papers, could not retain the presidency.

The mayor of the capital appears to be a politician with a discreet and quite popular temper in the center of the country, accused of an alleged diversion of around a million dollars of funds from the mayor’s office to his personal accounts or those of alleged accomplices to finance the presidential campaign.

In addition to the new president, Hondurans also had to elect the 128 members of the National Congress and 20 representatives of the Central American parliament. The results of these elections will be final since in Honduras there is no possibility of ballotage and the candidate who obtains the most votes in a single round is consecrated president.

The elections, in which 14 parties and twelve presidential candidates participated, were observed by more than 400 special envoys from the European Union, the Organization of American States (OAS), the Inter-American Union of Electoral Organizations (Uniore), and former Latin American presidents.

The massive influx of voters registered in the Honduran capital was repeated in several cities and municipalities of the Central American country. In fact, the polling stations looked full from the early hours of Sunday. Castro, who claims to promote a “democratic socialism” with a progressive agenda, has been branded a communist by his most reactionary rivals and the hegemonic press. After casting her vote in her birth hometown of Gracias in western Honduras, stated: «I am optimistic with the results, I received the most violent country on the face of the earth.

Narcopower

The brother of the president of Honduras was accused of drug trafficking in the United States – Infobae

Court records document that Hernández’s first dealings with drug trafficking began when he was president of Congress, between 2010 and 2011. Juan Orlando and his brother Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández partnered with Alexander Ardón, mayor of El Paraíso, in the western department of Copán, bordering Guatemala. Ardon and the Valle Valle family clan dominated that portion of the cocaine route when Hernandez started dealing with them.

Ardón himself told US authorities that Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, gave Tony Hernández one million dollars for the JOH presidential campaign in 2013. A year earlier, Juan Orlando had asked the mayor of El Paradise to lower his political profile and finance his campaign. In return, Ardon received official support to expand his empire in the West and access to public funds through the appointment of his brother Hugo to a ministry.

Likewise, in the trial against drug lord Giovanny Fuentes in the US, the prosecution presented evidence of the encounters between the two. Fuentes traveled from Choloma – his center of criminal operations – to Tegucigalpa on May 29, 2019, to meet with President JOH, a day after US Justice Department prosecutors had judicially denounced the president as “the subject of an investigation” for drug trafficking.

At that meeting, according to the investigation of the prosecutors who litigated in New York the case for drug trafficking, possession, and possession of weapons of war and aggravated homicide against Fuentes, he gave a bribe of $ 25,000 Hernández.

Context

Since 2009, Honduran politics has revolved around the crisis caused by the overthrow of President Manuel Zelaya, who decided to promote progressive reforms to favor the most disadvantaged sectors. The election on November 28 seems to close the cycle with the triumph of Xiomara Castro, Zelaya’s wife, who in 2009 led the resistance to the coup plotters in the streets.

With Zelaya, the so-called “lawfare” cycle was inaugurated in the region, different from the “traditional” coups d’état of the 20th century where the armed forces seized power and closed the parliament, causing an institutional breakdown.

In 2017 Juan Orlando Hernández narrowly defeated Salvador Nasralla of the “Opposition Alliance Against Dictatorship” after modifying much of the institutional scaffolding in his favor: he removed magistrates and prosecutors so that an addicted Supreme Court would allow him to stand again as a candidate even though the constitution forbade it. The United States was instrumental in supporting Hernández in avoiding a repeat of elections that would have brought a coalition of progressive forces to power.

Fears of fraud and reports of at least 31 deaths as part of the political violence in this campaign fueled tensions, as the country saw unemployment jump from 5.7 percent in 2019 to 10.9 percent in 2020, according to the National Autonomous University, and has 59 percent of its ten million inhabitants mired in poverty.

More than 300,000 Hondurans, including children without their parents, emigrate to the north, as a result of the growth of poverty and violence in 2019. Between 2004 and 2018, almost 72,000 homicides were registered, with an average of a dozen homicides per day

Of the more than 5 million Hondurans eligible to vote in elections, half between 18 and 30 years old, almost a million do not work or study, according to Carlos Hernández, director of the Association for a More Just Society.

Honduras and Haiti are the poorest countries in the region: 40 percent of the population is in extreme poverty and more than 70 percent of the rural population lives in extreme poverty, a situation that was aggravated by the pandemic of the coronavirus.

Social security is disastrous, as only one person in ten has access. In the context of the pandemic, with only five hospitals and the lack of doctors and nurses, the health crisis is more than alarming.

Until last November 24, Honduras had a total of 10,397 deaths and more than 377 thousand infected, is one of the countries proportionally hardest hit in the region.

In Honduras for the first time, a woman is going to be president and the current president could end up in prison.

Source CLAE

Translation Red en Defensa de la Humanidad – Cuba