News Release

Honduras Coup? Charges of Election Rigging Escalating into Curfew, Attacks on Pro-Democracy Activists

The New York Times is reporting: “The Honduran government imposed a curfew on Friday and ordered security forces to move against protesters blocking roads and bridges, escalating a political crisis over the disputed count of votes from the presidential election last weekend.

“The announcement late Friday came after what began as peaceful demonstrations by supporters of the opposition candidate, Salvador Nasralla, turned violent in some places. The government said the curfew would go into effect for 10 days, during which time anyone found outdoors between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. could be arrested.

“The move by the government of President Juan Orlando Hernández, who is seeking a second term, prompted fears that he might try to find a way to stay in office even if the final vote count went against him.

“Edmundo Orellana, a former justice and defense minister, said on Twitter that to issue such a decree while votes are being counted was ‘the same thing as a coup d’état.'”

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SUYAPA PORTILLO, [in Honduras] lavidagris at gmail.com, @SuyapaPV

Portillo observed the election in Honduras. She is an assistant professor at Pitzer College. Upon returning to the U.S. earlier this week, she appeared on the program “Democracy Now.”

On Friday, a letter Portillo helped organize, signed by scores of academics including Miguel Tinker Salas and Dana Frank, was released: “We have followed Sunday’s elections closely and with optimism for fair and evenhanded proceedings to set the course for Honduras’ future. We are, however, concerned that the TSE’s [Supreme Electoral Tribunal] actions, particularly since the polls closed and as votes were tallied, have been secretive, lacking in transparency and accountability.

“The TSE has kept the Honduran people in the dark as to vote-counting procedures and progress. It is unclear, for example, where vote tallies are coming from and what are the outcomes in various jurisdictions where vote totals have already been counted.”

MARK WEISBROT, via Dan Beeton, beeton at cepr.net, @ceprdc
Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. Weisbrot appeared on The Real News on Friday.

Also on Friday, the group released a statement: “Given the lack of transparency and credible allegations of irregularities in tabulating results from Sunday’s elections, Honduran electoral authorities should commit to a full recount of all the votes in order to restore credibility to the electoral process,” Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) co-director Mark Weisbrot said.

“Weisbrot noted that after the first 57 percent of the votes showed opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla winning by about 5 percentage points, the next 38 percent of the votes split 47 percent to 35 percent in favor of incumbent president Juan Orlando Hernández. The chances of this occurring, had the first 57 percent been drawn as a random sample of tally sheets, is next to impossible.”