|Call on State Department to stop legitimizing fraudulent Honduran elections|
On Sunday, November 24, Hondurans went to the polls in record numbers to vote in their presidential elections. In the country with the highest murder rate in the world and targeted repression of the opposition and social movements, many Hondurans voted for change, including for Xiomara Castro, the candidate for the new LIBRE party which was created out of the resistance to the 2009 SOA-graduate led coup that ousted her husband, President Mel Zelaya. Despite outright vote buying, vote counting problems, selling of election credentials, irregularities in posted voting certificates, discrepancies in the results released by Honduras' Electoral Tribunal (TSE) and those received by the parties, and other signs of fraud, Juan Orlando Hernandez of the ruling (National) party was declared the winner. Libre and PAC, another new party running on an anti-corruption platform, have refused to accept the TSE's results, citing widespread fraud, but the US has supported the ruling party, calling the elections "transparent." Call on the U.S. to stop legitimizing fraudulent elections in Honduras!
On Sunday, December 1st, thousands of Hondurans took to the streetsdemanding an end to fraud and the recognition of Xiomara Castro as the legitimate President of Honduras. See a photo report here. On Monday, December 2nd, Castro presented an official request to the TSE for a recount of all the voting certificantes in the presence of Libre. However, with the TSE, Executive Branch, current Congress, Supreme Court, and Attorney General all controlled by the ruling party (Hernandez himself led the Congress in firing 4 Supreme Court justices last year and replacing the Attorney General in a highly controversial process just months before the elections), there is little hope that Honduran system will resolve fairly.
The US State Department has white-washed the elections, commending the TSE for "its professional counting of the vote," when the reality is that the elections were full of problems. Send an e-mail to the State Department and Congress urging them to condemn the fraud, irregularities, and violence during the Honduran elections.
SOA Watch's election delegation to Honduras, along with many other delegations as part of the Honduras Solidarity Network observed problems with vote counting, reports of dead people voting, voting table credentials of other parties used by the ruling party, breaking of the rules during vote transmission, suspicious results from voting tables reported by the TSE, and numerous opportunities for alternation and manipulation of the results. Read the report back from the SOA delegation here. Libre has also documented numerous alternations and manipulations, including the tabulation of 82,301 too many votes counted in favor of the National (ruling) Party and 55,720 votes not counted for LIBRE. Even the European Union election monitoring delegation, which white-washed the elections for political reasons, reported that 30% of the voter rolls were people who were dead or have left the country, making fraudulent voting all too easy.
The day before Libre activists prepared to take to the streets to demand a recount, Jose Antonio Ardon, a well-known member of the resistance movement and the motorcade that accompanied Xiomara Castro, was brutally murdered by death squads while organizing for Libre's march. This political assassination sent a clear message: you will continue to be murdered for speaking out. Prior to the elections, at least 18 Libre candidates and activists were murdered, more than all other parties combined. Two additional campesino leaders and Libre activists weremurdered the evening before the elections as they returned from election training and a citizen was beaten on election day for asking for the votes to be read out loud as they were counted. Just days after the elections, the police tear gassed and violently repressed thousands of university students protesting against fraud and the imposition of Juan Orlando as president of Honduras.
International observers were also intimidated, with migration raids targeting accredited observers from the Honduras Solidarity Network and other groups. The SOAW delegation, together with the US-El Salvador Sister Cities delegation, was blocked for over 5 hours from visiting Rio Blanco, where Lenca communities are resisting the construction of an illegal hydroelectric dam and facing death threats and severe repression, including the murder of Tomas Garcia this July.
As Sunday's mobilization came to an end, Xiomara Castro stood beside the casket of Jose Antonio Ardon, which accompanied the mobilization outside the TSE to demand a recount of the votes, and declared "Today we have pain in our hearts and tears in our eyes and it is precisely because of this, and for the 350 other martyrs, that we will not give up. Because of this we continue. We believed the false promises that there would be clean elections… Over 1 million people went out to vote for us… They have stolen our victory and implemented fraud. We will not give up until we achieve… our hope of constructing a better Honduras for all".
As the ultra-right seeks to consolidate its stranglehold on Honduras through fraudulent elections aimed at imposing the presidency of Juan Orlando Hernandez and unleashing repression against those who stand up against the looting of the country by multinational corporations and the oligarchy, it is more important than ever to stand in solidarity with the people of Honduras. Demand that the US stop legitimizing the elections and instead condemn the widespread fraud and the murders of Libre activists.