With the landmark Honduran presidential election on Nov. 24 rapidly approaching, many Hondurans living at home and across the Americas are rallying for support in preparation.
“For the first time in Honduras’ history a socialist party has real opportunities to win,” said Los Necios’ Secretary of International Affairs, Ana Rivera, speaking in regards to the current front runner, Liberation and Re-foundation Party (LIBRE) party candidate Xiomara Castro (wife to former President Manuel Zelaya). “(Castro) has stood up against the military. In Honduras this is unprecedented considering that a woman has never had even a tiny chance of becoming president.”
A cloud of political unrest has hung over Honduras since the coup that ousted and exiled President Manuel Zelaya in June of 2009. For LIBRE supporters, these upcoming elections represent a new sense of hope that could mean a fresh start for Honduras’ turbulent political landscape.
Arguably the first legitimate presidential election since Honduras’ 2009 general elections (which were marred with considerable doubt considering their proximity to the ousting of Zelaya), the question on many Hondurans’ minds is whether further breaches of the democratic process will arise in the November.
“We are working as Hondurans to go to the polling places and defend the LIBRE vote,” said LIBRE Northern California coordinator, Porfirio Quintano, speaking on the quality control and regulation of stateside polling. “We are going to be there to guarantee that everything is counted correctly in case they (the National party) claim to have won.”
Over the last three years the Honduran people have witnessed many of their basic freedoms disappear as well as a spike in violent crimes and human rights violations. Currently, Honduras is under the the rule of President Porfirio Lobo Sosa, a National Party member. Sosa, who came to power shortly after the coup, has had many Hondurans questioning his party’s political motives.
“Even though we have had a great deal of violence in our country since the coup, the people remain strong,” said Rivera. “(The Honduran) people will continue fighting until the final countdown in November.”
In the Bay Area, groups such as the Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Coalition (BALASC) and Marin Interfaith Task Force on the Americas (MITF), have been doing their part to raise awareness to the status of Honduras’ presidential election and social issues.
“We are urging people from the United States to help,” said MITF representative Carolina Dutton. “We are meeting with our Senators and Congress people to push legislation to condemn the human rights violations of Hondurans by the current government and for the State Department not to interfere with the election process.”
As a member of the Honduras Solidarity Network, MITF’s goal is to help with Honduras’ election monitoring process in anyway they can.
“The LIBRE Party has asked us to accompany them in their struggle to have a fair, transparent and democratic election,” said MITF director Dale Sorensen. “So far we have recruited about 25 people from the Bay Area to go down in November.”
One concern facing LIBRE supporters is the National Party’s recent militarization of the police force. Starting operations in October with 900 members, the Military Police of Public Order (PMOP) is claimed by the National Party to have been created to deal with Honduras’ increasingly violent crime issues.
LIBRE supporters have their doubts. “They (National Party) are doing anything they can right now to secure their future, one of these things is the creation of a military police,” said Quintano. “(The fear is that) with this military power, they will be able to create problems for the people opposing them.”
Should Castro lose in November, supporters are fearing electoral fraud. “Fraud is one of the greatest threats we are currently facing,” said Rivera. “Our strategy is to have representatives at all polling places.”
To help keep the peace and ensure a fair and balanced election process, organizations such as the Union of South American Republics (UNISAR) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) are being involved to safeguard and substantiate the election.