The World Today for November 26, 2021

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Stacking Decks

HONDURAS

When voters in Honduras go to the polls to elect a new president on Nov. 28, many might be frightened. During the last presidential election in 2017, after President Juan Orlando Hernández won reelection amid fraud claims, mass protests triggered a military and police crackdown that resulted in at least 23 people dying.

With the prospect of more violence in mind, Amnesty International recently issued a public letter to the Honduran presidential candidates.

“The Honduran population has faced a serious regression in the respect and guarantee of their human rights in recent years, which in many cases has led people to flee the country,” the letter stated. “The change of government could be a unique opportunity to reverse this situation by addressing the structural causes of violence, inequality and discrimination.”

Poverty and corruption in Honduras rank alongside Haiti as the worst in the Western Hemisphere, wrote the Birmingham Times in conjunction with Ethnic Media Services.

Now ending his second and last term in office, Hernández, whose National Party has run the Central American country since the military staged a coup in 2009, is allegedly affiliated with drug traffickers, the New Yorker reported. His brother, Honduran Congressman Juan Antonio Hernández, was recently found guilty in federal court in New York of smuggling more than 400,000 pounds of cocaine into the US three years ago.

The National Party is fielding Nasry Asfura, or “Papi,” the mayor of the capital of Tegucigalpa. His main rival is Xiomara Castro of the Libre Party. She is the wife of ex-President Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted in the 2009 coup. She is running on a leftist platform that includes curbing free-market policies and lifting up the poor.

The National Party is allied with elite landowners who supported paramilitaries that have clashed with farmers who have sought to reclaim the land they say was taken from them by large corporations, the Intercept explained. The paramilitaries infiltrate farmer or social and political activist movements, murder their leaders and then deploy gunmen to cow anyone who might challenge their masters.

When prosecutors have sought to uncover the alleged misdeeds of the president and his coterie, they haven’t gotten very far, added Reuters.

Castro’s critics have launched mass misinformation campaigns designed to smear her campaign, Time magazine reported. Facebook and Twitter have removed several illegitimate networks tied to President Hernandez and his allies in recent years, too.

When the deck is stacked against bringing about change via the ballot box, politicians shouldn’t be surprised when angry voters take to the streets.

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