News Release

Can Post-Coup Honduras Have a Fair Election?

The New York Times reports Monday morning: “Salvador Nasralla, a former sportscaster running at the head of a left-wing alliance, was leading Monday in Honduran elections and was rushing to claim victory over President Juan Orlando Hernández. A win by Mr. Nasralla would represent a sharp rebuke to Mr. Hernández, an authoritarian leader who has maneuvered to take control over most of the country’s fragile institutions.”

Al Jazeera is reporting: “The Supreme Electoral Tribunal was expected to release preliminary results around 7 p.m. local time, but the body suspended the process for nearly seven hours. … Despite the lack of official results, Hernandez declared himself the winner at approximately 8 p.m. local time. Hours later, Nasralla, who said he had information from inside the vote counting process, claimed victory. … Opposition Alliance supporters celebrated outside the Supreme Electoral Tribunal in the early hours of Monday morning as riot police lined the premises.”

The Economist reported over the weekend: “Is Honduras’s ruling party planning to rig an election?” “A recording obtained by the Economist suggests it may be. That merits investigation.”

Former president Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted in a U.S.-backed coup in 2009, said in an interview with Sputnik Sunday: “Children of the coup are ruling Honduras. They have established a repressive, military and authoritarian regime. They violate human rights. They have beggared the country. And the U.S. has been covering up for this dictatorship.”

DANA FRANK, danafrank at ucsc.edu
Available for a very limited number of interviews, Frank is professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her writings on post-2009 coup Honduras have appeared in the New York Times, Foreign Affairs and other publications.

She said Sunday: “The Honduran elections, especially President Juan Orlando Hernández’s criminal candidacy in violation of the Honduran Constitution, continue to underscore the utter breakdown of the rule of law in Honduras since the 2009 coup — with the blessing of the U.S. government, which continues to celebrate a regime thoroughly marked by corruption and the vicious repression of basic civil liberties. Reports from the Honduran government claiming that the crime rate is down or that the police have been cleaned up should not be believed for a minute.”

SUYAPA PORTILLO, [in Honduras], lavidagris at gmail.com, @SuyapaPV, Skype: solentiname74
Portillo is observing the election in Honduras. She is an assistant professor at Pitzer College.

She wrote in the early Monday morning: “After a long day, which for many started at 4 a.m. in the different voting centers held in public schools, the results were unknown. By 1 a.m. some voting centers were still counting votes and submitting results. The TSE [Supreme Electoral Tribunal] did not declare a winner for presidential candidate, even though the overwhelming victory of Salvador Nasralla was palpable in the result tally that many were keeping outside the voting centers. Close to 1:40 a.m., the TSE reported 855,847 votes, giving Nasralla the victory with 45.17 percent of the electorate over Juan Orlando Hernandez’ 761,872 votes (40.21 percent).

“My students and I were international observers in San Pedro Sula, Cortes, Honduras and visited over 13 voting centers throughout the most marginalized sectors of the city. The energy and enthusiasm was palpable, people voted, and came back for the count, el escrutinio [scrutiny], at the end of the day. They did not leave until the tables for their voting center and neighborhood were adequately represented. Voters stood outside tallying the numbers in notepads or any paper they could find. This was an active citizenry that came out to defend their vote.

“There were anomalies, which I reported on Twitter. … For example, there were cases of people who appeared as if they had already voted when they arrived to cast their vote. The citizenry watched with an eagle eye, distrusting the system and the TSE, which is controlled by Juan Orlando Hernandez.

“The voting centers were closed one hour earlier than the usual 5 p.m. close time — they were closed at 4 p.m., raising more distrust. Even so, in most of the centers I visited to see the counting process, it was clear Nasralla was winning by a landslide in entire voting centers, ballot box by ballot box.

“People … fear the elections could still be stolen from them as they were in 2013, say many. Everyone, though celebrating, is cautiously awaiting the morning hours to see the progress in the tallying of votes at the TSE. This election has to be won fair and clear for many who have suffered under Juan Orlando’s regime.”

JAKE JOHNSTON, via Dan Beeton, beeton at cepr.net, @JakobJohnston
A research associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Johnston just broke the story “Top U.S.-Backed Honduran Security Minister Is Running Drugs, According to Court Testimony” for the Intercept. See also, “Will elections in Honduras be a step forward or another step backward?” by CEPR senior associate for international policy, Alexander Main, which gives critical background.