Monday, November 25, 2013

Honduras Elects New President Amid Controversy

Yesterday, Hondurans voted in unusually heavy numbers to elect a new president. Official results have not been announced, but poll numbers from early yesterday evening leading into this morning have been uniformly the same: Conservative candidate, Juan Orlando HernĂ¡ndez, has been leading with roughly 34% of the vote. The closest competitor, Xiomara Castro Zelaya, has garnered roughly 28% of the vote. The Honduran constitution does not provide for a run-off, so the candidate with a simple majority will take office. 

Image: Courtesy of Associated Press
Both candidates claimed victory last night. Xiomara Castro Zelaya, seeking to become the first female president of Honduras, is particularly strident in her claims that she is the president of Honduras. Castro is backed heavily by leftist, socialist forces in South America. Last night, she announced plans for demonstrations to begin the capital this morning. Castro-Zelaya is the wife of former ousted president Mel Zelaya. 

Personally, nearly everyone I know in Honduras supported  Xiomara Castro Zelaya. She had a broad appeal for the poor in the country who view the traditional candidates and parties as contributing to the increasing instability, poverty, and violence in Honduras. In the last few days before the election, Hernandez began to gain ground in polls. 

I seldom write about politics. However, this election is different. The country is already a nearly-failed state. If the top losing candidate refuses to accept defeat, Honduras may be battered by more hardships in the days ahead. Most everyone I know in the capital  is staying home today, as violence is feared. 


Tancho said...

My wife had mentioned that she and all her friends of her age all voter for the new guy who the younger people supported, not the two factions that have been winning all the time. She tried to convince family members to not support the two parties, but the older generation only sees that they get free stuff from the money those parties spread around to purchase the votes.

The younger generations see what is going on and nothing will change until those voters die off.
It's exactly the same in the US where the 48% of the people voting to continue the free stuff and programs, keep voting not to curtail their programs instead of truly doing something to change the statis quo.

Laurie Matherne said...

The system of payments for votes is being established in the minds and hearts of younger voters too. The puboic school system had been vocal in their support of Xiomara Castro Zelaya. I think it's no accident that several weeks before the election, school officials found money to give CASH to parents of high school students with no strings attached. In exchange, parents in my community had to endure a lengthy political discourse on the merits of the Libre Party Candidate, Xiomara, before getting their money.

Steve Cotton said...

This reminds me of families fighting over an inheritance as their impoverished father lies dying in his bed.

Get as rich as you want
through cheating and extortion,
But eventually some friend of the poor
is going to give it all back to them.
Proverbs 28:8
I guess that is why Jesus instructed us to be beyond generous with our own goods. Politicians of every stripe will always fall short of their compassionate rhetoric.

lisleman said...

Even with all the arguing and mud slinging, we Americans forget how good we run elections. Not perfect but we do run them pretty well.

Laurie Matherne said...

The political system in Honduras seems to be steeped in corruption. Gifts and bribes are part of the culture.

Laurie Matherne said...

I hope the US never experiences the degree of corruption and instability that is present in Honduras. Today business, schools, public transportation and other services are closed due to fear. How terrible for the people to live in fear of attack from their own leaders.

Kim G said...

I read about the election this morning and thought of you. According to international observers (according to what I read on Bloomberg), the election was deemed fairly clean, though the campaign is of course another matter.

Let's hope that you're wrong about protests and violence, and that the winner can peacefully assume power and try to improve the lot of ordinary Hondurans such as your clients.


Kim G
Boston, MA
Where our own recent, closely-called mayor's election was accepted peacefully.

Laurie Matherne said...

Thus far, the reports from friends are good. The cities are peaceful but some venues and streets are closed. There are lots of security in the streets to prevent problems. I hope peace continues.