Tag Archive | "elections"

Latin America News Roundup: 18th March 2014


Peru's president Ollanta Humala with first lady Nadine (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Peru’s president Ollanta Humala with first lady Nadine Heredia (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Peru’s Cabinet Survives Confidence Vote: After a brief debate, Peru’s congress voted in favour of the country’s Cabinet, with 66 votes in favour, 53 against and nine abstentions. The vote came after days of crisis in the country’s political bodies, after a previous confidence vote in René Cornejo’s cabinet on Friday saw 73 members of congress abstain. But just hours before the vote in yesterday’s extraordinary session, Perú Posible and the PCC-APP alliance announced their support for the cabinet, ending the deadlock. Cornejo was sworn in as the country’s prime minister on 24th February, the fifth head of the cabinet since President Ollanta Humala took office in 2011. Many of Friday’s abstentions were seen as a protest agasint the cabinet changes, which were seen to reflect meddling from powerful First Lady Nadine Heredia, a leading adviser to her husband and a co-founder of the ruling Gana Peru party. Vice president Marisol Espinoza said that with the vote of confidence for the new prime minister’s cabinet, “democracy fundamentally won”.

Costa Rica: Government Candidate Still in Presidential Race: A week and a half after pulling out of the second round of presidential elections, PLN candidate Johnny Araya, has declared that he is still in the presidential race. The candidate, running for the party that is currently in power, met with his future cabinet last night and then appeared before the cameras to say: “I will respect the popular wish. There is no need to interpret what I have previously said, but know that I never stepped down from being a presidential candidate.” The second round is due to take place on 6th April, and will see Araya, who is the mayor of the capital San José, face leftist PAC’s Luis Guillermo Solís, who obtained 31% of the vote in the first round to Araya’s 29.5%.

Colombia: Bodies Found in Search for Missing Police: Colombian authorities have found two bodies which they believe to be those of the two policemen who disappeared at the weekend in the Nariño region, in an area under the influence of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The mayor of Tumanaco, in the country’s south-west, said that local farmers had found the bodies close the town and that preliminary studies indicated they belonged to Germán Méndez Pabón and Edilmer Muñoz Ortiz. It is believed that they were intercepted by the FARC, but so far this hypothesis has not been proven, and that officials from the Prosecution Investigation Body are heading to the area to carry out a full investigation. On 14th February two other police officers were shot dead in the departments of Cauca and Nariño. Authorities have blamed FARC for both killings.

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Latin America News Roundup: 26th February 2014


President Rafael Correa talks to the press (photo: Government of Ecuador)

President Rafael Correa talks to the press (photo: Government of Ecuador)

Ecuador – President Announces Cabinet Reshuffle: After Sunday’s electoral defeat in key districts, president Rafael Correa announced upcoming changes to his cabinet and his party, Alianza País (AP). “I will ask all cabinet ministers to hand in their resignation [today],” said Correa in a press conference yesterday, as he stated that his cabinet needs “some oxygen.” The changes, he said, had been decided previous to the election. The president said that it “hurt” to have lost in important districts such as the capital Quito, Guayaquil, and Cuenca, but added that “the shake-up was welcome, because I think we were stagnating -not the government, but the political organisation at the local level.” Changes in local leadership positions within AP are expected to follow.

Guatemala – Minister Warns About Climate Change Effects: Agriculture Minister Elmer López warned that over a million Guatemalans could suffer from the effects of climate change on crops in the second half of the year. Talking to local newspaper La Hora, López said: “Right now we have a million people living in the Dry Corridor, who may reach a crisis point if the situation turns extreme due to climate change. This means we could have over three weeks without rain in the hottest period of summer. And if this period extends to more than three weeks, the crops could die.” The minister also informed that the country will soon start receiving grains from the World Food Programme to face the impending shortage, and that the government has earmarked Q62m (US$8m) from its budget to purchase food from the current harvest and for projects aimed at assisting small producers. According to official estimates, 933,000 families were affected by seasonal food shortages last year. Malnutrition is a perennial problem in Guatemala.

Venezuela – Opposition Rejects Calls for Dialogue: The Venezuelan opposition rejected president Nicolás Maduro’s call for a “national dialogue” today. Maduro made the call on Monday, and so far the Catholic Church and business representatives have agreed to participating. In a letter sent to vice-president Jorge Arreaza, however, the opposition coalition Mesa de Unidad Democrática (MUD) said they would not attend what they consider “a simulation” and “mocking our fellow countrymen.” They also blamed the government for the situation the country is in, after two weeks of protests which have left 14 people dead.

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Latin America News Roundup: 3rd February 2014


Salvador Sánchez Cerén, El Salvadorian presidential frontrunner (photo: wikipedia.org)

Salvador Sánchez Cerén, frontrunner in the El Salvadorian presidential elections (photo: wikipedia.org)

El Salvador Presidential Elections go to Second Round: With nearly all the votes counted, results indicate yesterday’s presidential election in El Salvador will go to a run-off on 9th March. Current vice president Salvador Sánchez Cerén from the governing left-wing FMLN party received 48.9% of the votes, and will face conservative Norman Quijano from the Nationalist Republican Alliance, ARENA, who took 38.9% in the first round. The winner will take power on 1st June and will govern the country for the next five years. Both candidates accepted the results and announced their willingness to form alliances with other political parties. Sánchez Cerén has already reached out to the UNIDAD movement’s candidate, Elías Antonio Saca, to work together in the next government. Sunday’s election had a turnout of just 53%, according to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, almost ten percentage points lower than the 2009 elections.

Costa Rica Elections: Residents of Costa Rica also went to the polls yesterday to vote in the country’s general elections, choosing new representatives in congress, new governors, and a new president. With no outright winner, the two leading presidential candidates will face a run-off on 6th April. The governing Partido Liberación Nacional (PLN)’s candidate, Johnny Araya, who obtained 29.5% of the vote, will face Partido Acción Ciudadana (PAC)’s Luis Guillermo Solís, who obtained 31% of the vote. Neither candidate has so far spoken of potential alliances, but it seems likely the winner will have to form some kind of coalition to govern, as they will face a divided congress when they take power on 8th May. PLN received 18 of the 57 legislative seats, PAC took 13, with the remainder divided between five other parties.

Honduras – Diplomatic Relations Re-established with Latin American countries: The governments of Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador officially recognised Juan Orlando Hernández’s government in Honduras at last week’s Celac summit in Cuba. Following this, the three countries announced at the weekend they would re-establish diplomatic ties with the Central American nation after almost five years, when a coup ousted democratically-elected Juan Manuel Zelaya, leading to a political crisis in the country, and a diplomatic crisis in the region.

Cuba has Highest Literacy Rate in Latin America: According to a UNESCO report published on Saturday, Cuba has the highest literacy rate in Latin America. The annual report, entitled ‘Teaching and Learning: Achieving Quality for All‘, highlighted the Caribbean island’s achievements, noting that 13% of the country’s GDP goes towards education, compared to a regional average of 5.5%. The report looked at countries’ progress under the Education for All global commitment to provide basic education for all children, youth, and adults, as agreed at the World Education Forum in Dakar in 2000. At the forum, 164 governments pledged to work towards six goals to be met by 2015, and are working with development agencies, civil society, and the private sector to achieve the targets, under the coordination of UNESCO. In Latin America, around 10% of children of school age are not achieving basic standards in reading and writing, and 30% are lacking in mathematics. Standards varied widely by country, and within social groups within national borders, with the poorest often faring the worst. For example, in Haiti only 42% of young people from a poor background know how to read and write, compared to 92% of their better off compatriots. The report highlighted that if current trends continue, developing countries will not achieve their targets until 2072.

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Latin America News Roundup: 31st January 2014


Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff (Photo: wikimedia commons)

Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff (Photo: wikimedia commons)

Brazil – Cabinet Reshuffle: Ahead of the upcoming elections this year, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced a number of changes to her cabinet yesterday. Chief of Cabinet Gleisi Hoffmann will be replaced by current Education Minister Aloizio Mercadante, as she will take the Senate seat she won in 2010. It is expected that this could serve as a platform for Hoffman to run for governor of the southern state of Paraná. Mercadante, in turn, will be replaced by his vice-minister, José Henrique Paim. Health Minister Alexandre Padilha will also step down as he prepares to campaign for the governorship of the state of São Paulo. Rousseff had announced impending changes to her cabinet last month, which she indicated would take place between January and March, so that some of the ministers could participate in the elections. More changes are expected in the coming weeks.

Bolivia – US Withdraws Aid: The US embassy in Bolivia informed that its government will no longer fund cooperation projects in the Andean country, after the expulsion of USAID. Business attache Larry Memmott said that “our economic aid has always been delivered through USAID and, at the request of the Bolivian government, it does not work in the country anymore [therefore] economic aid is no longer an issue between the two countries. We do not provide economic assistance in Bolivia at the request of the Bolivian government.” Bolivian President Evo Morales replied to Memmott’s statement saying that his country “does not need charity” and that it is the obligation of the US government to contribute, as part of a shared responsibility, on the fight against drug trafficking. Morales expelled the US aid agency on 1st May 2013, accusing it of conspiring against his government.

Guatemala – Teachers’ Strike Lifted: The Guatemalan Congress approved yesterday an increase of 1.5bn quetzals in the budgets for education and health. The government had requested the budget increase, which was passed by 135 votes to two. After the news became known, teachers blocking roads around the country, including access to the capital, in demand for more resources in these areas ended their protest. The teachers’ demands also include that the funds allocated to the education budget are used to hire 5,000 teachers, increase salaries by 10%, bring back school meals, repair schools, and pay overdue bills.

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Latin America News Roundup: 29th January 2014


Minister of Rural Development, Nemesia Achacollo at the press conference when the state of emergency was declared. (Photo: Jose LIrauze, presidencia.gob.bo)

Minister of Rural Development, Nemesia Achacollo, at the press conference when the state of emergency was declared. (Photo: Jose Lirauze, presidencia.gob.bo)

Bolivia – State of Emergency Declared after Flooding Kills Dozens: Bolivia has declared a state of emergency after heavy rains led to flooding which has left dozens dead and over 20,000 displaced. According to Vice President Alvaro García Linera, 80 of the country’s 339 municipalities are facing flash floods, flooding, hailstorms and building collapses as a result of the rains, which look set to continue into February. The rainy season started in October, but this year has been particularly bad, with at least 43 people dead so far. The situation culminated when rains caused a mudslide on Saturday in the town of Rurrenabaque in the country’s Amazon basin, in which eight people died. In the central region of Cochabamba, 11 rivers have burst their banks. Troops have been sent to various parts of the country to help bring aid to those affected.

Uruguay Ranks top in Environmental Performance Index Categories: Uruguay has ranked top in two categories of the annual Environmental Performance Index (EPI), a global ranking of countries’ environmental results. The country performed best in the sections of ‘air quality’ and ‘forest’, overall ranking 70th out of 178 countries, with a score of 53.61 out of 100. The EPI is an annual report put together by Yale University, using data from dozens of environmental organisations from around the world. It bases its ranking on two sections: environmental health and ecosystem vitality. The former includes health impacts, air quality, and water and sanitation. Under ecosystem vitality, water resources, agriculture, forest, fisheries, biodiversity and habitat, and climate and energy are all taken into account. Switzerland was ranked first overall in the poll, while Chile was top in Latin America, coming 29th with a score of 69.93. Haiti ranked lowest in the region, coming 176th out of 178. The report stated that: “The poorest performers are those with significant political or economic strife, suggesting again that other pressing issues can sideline effective environmental policy.” Argentina ranked 93rd, with a score of 49.55.

Campaigns Close ahead of El Salvador and Costa Rica Elections: Ahead of this Sunday’s elections, presidential hopefuls in both El Salvador and Costa Rica have closed their electoral campaigns. In El Salvador, current vice president, Salvador Sánchez Cerén of the governing FMLN party, is leading the five candidates by a 14-point margin, although an estimated 15-20% of the 4.9m voters are said to be still undecided. If the winning candidate fails to win an absolute majority on Sunday, a second round will take place on 9th March. The winner will take power on 1st June and will govern the country for the next five years.

Further south, in Costa Rica, polls indicate none of the 13 candidates will win the 40% needed to avoid going to a run-off in April. Leading the race are former mayor of San José, who is running for the governing PLN party, leftist José María Villalta, and right-leaning businessman Otto Guevara. Anticipating a run-off, candidates are said to be looking at potential alliances, although none have officially commented. Just over 3m people will vote in Sunday’s election.

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Latin America News Roundup: 21st January 2014


Images of deforestation in the Chaco (Photo: Greenpeace)

Images of deforestation in the Chaco (Photo: Greenpeace)

Paraguay: A new study has revealed that Paraguay’s Chaco forest has the highest rate of deforestation in the world. The study, carried out by the University of Maryland, found that “the forest is experiencing rapid deforestation as a result of development of agriculture”, and showed dramatic satellite images demonstrating the incredible rate of destruction between 1990 and 2013. Paraguay’s Environment Secretary recently caused outrage when it granted licences to Brazil-owned ranching companies Yaguarete Pora S.A. and Carlos Casado S.A. (a subsidiary of Spanish construction company Grupo San José)  to clear the land, despite it being within a UNESCO biosphere reserve and home to Paraguay’s last uncontacted tribe, the Ayoreo, who live off the forest. As an uncontacted tribe, any contact with the farmers could kill them, due to them not being immune to diseases. Stephen Corry, director of Survival International, said today: “For how much longer will Paraguay boast two UNESCO biosphere reserves? With the world’s highest rate of deforestation, the Chaco won’t last forever: with it, the country’s only uncontacted tribe will be obliterated. The government must stop Brazilian ranchers destroying its people’s heritage before it’s too late for the Chaco, and too late for the Ayoreo.”

Costa Rica: The Supreme Election Tribunal of Costa Rica is investigating if Subway fast-food company committed a criminal offence in mailing its employees and telling them not to vote for the Frente Amplio in the 2nd February general elections. The mail, which was sent on 10th January, advised the workers against the party due to the supposed dangers the party would represent to businesses and the country as a whole. Representatives of Subway have stated that the email reflected “personal opinions” and not that of the company. On 2nd February, over 3 million Costa Ricans will vote to choose a successor to president Laura Chinchilla and the deputies of the legislative assembly for the 2014-18 period.

Latin America: The International Labour Organisation released their annual report ‘Global Employment Trends 2014′ today, with Latin America proving to be the region least affected by new unemployment generated in 2013. Just 1% of the total number of new unemployed came from the region, representing around less than 50,000 of the global total of 5m. However, levels of unemployment were slightly higher than the global average, with 6.5% of the active population of Latin America was estimated to be looking for a job, compared with 6% on a world scale. The region also stood out as being the one which is most working to improve the quality of employment, as informal labour represents almost half of the total jobs, a rate the report counted as being “extremely high”. This figure was higher in the Central America and the Andean nations, in some cases over 70% of total jobs.

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Latin America News Roundup: 13th January 2014


Haiti, plagued by natural disaster and second on the list of population in slavery (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Haiti remains the poorest country in the Americas four years since the earthquake (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Haiti: Yesterday Haitians commemorated four years since the earthquake that left 220,000 dead, 300,000 injured and 1.5 million homeless. The anniversary was marked by a peaceful march to the Champ de Mars, in the capital Port-au-Prince, where a memorial has been constructed in commemoration of the victims. Organisers of the march used the occasion to call for more transparency in the use of reconstruction funds, and to reiterate their call for dignified housing for all. Between 147,000 and 170,000 people are still living in some 270 camps around the country, which is the poorest in the Americas. According to the United Nations over 800,000 Haitians still need humanitarian assistance, due to poor living conditions and risks of forced evictions from the camps, food insecurity, malnutrition, and the cholera epidemic.

Colombia: A new round of peace talks between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) began today in Havana, Cuba. The talks are due to last until the 23rd January, which coincides with the end of the 30-day unilateral truce announced by FARC in December. This round of discussions will focus on the subject of illegal drugs and trafficking, including replacement programmes for illegal growing, integral development plans with community participation in the design, execution and evaluation of the programmes of replacement and environmental recuperation of the areas affected. Also on the table will be the issues of public health programmes and drug consumption. Working groups began analysing the points in December, with the aim of reaching an agreement during this round of talks. The on-going peace talks between the government and FARC have six key points, with accords already reached on the issues of land reform and political participation of the rebels. The issues yet to be tackled are disarmament, rights of the victims and the peace deal implementation, all of which are on the agenda for 2014.

El Salvador: El Salvador held its first ever presidential debate last night, ahead of the elections due to be held on 2nd February in the Central American state. The debate, which took place in the capital San Salvador, was sponsored by the association of Salvadoran broadcast media and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, and moderated by Mexican journalist Armando Guzmán from Univsion. The five candidates, including current vice president Salvador Sanchez Ceren, who is one of the frontrunners, discussed education, security, healthcare, and the economy.  Meanwhile, through a communication, the main gangs in the country have confirmed that the peace process would continue at a national level throughout the campaigning period, and pledged to help the elections go ahead without problems.

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Chile: Presidential Candidates Close Campaigns Ahead of Run-off


Michelle Bachelet casts her vote in the first round of elections (Photo: María C. Lagos - Télam)

Michelle Bachelet casts her vote in the first round of elections (Photo: María C. Lagos – Télam)

Presidential candidates Michelle Bachelet and Evelyn Matthei finished their campaign trails today, ahead of Sunday’s run-off vote.

The candidates face a second round of voting after Bachelet, although coming first with just under 47% of the vote in the first round, failed to reach an absolute majority. Evelyn Matthei garnered 25% of the votes.

According to surveys, it is thought that Bachelet will win with around 63-66% of the vote.

Bachelet, the former Chilean president who held office from 2006-2010, carried out her campaign in a vehicle that has come to be known as the ‘Bachemovíl’. She started her trail in various sectors of Viña del Mar and ended yesterday in the central court of the National Stadium.

Opposition leader, Evelyn Matthei, spent much of her campaign focussed on southern Chile, particularly in the areas of Concepción, Chillán, and Los Ángeles. She mentioned: “Our fight will not finish until we see our country full of opportunities”.

The political strategy of Matthei is known as 1+1, seeking for those who voted for her in the first round to find one other person willing to do the same on Sunday.

Bachelet also called for those who have not voted to exercise their right to suffrage. The entire campaign process on both sides was marked by a general push to get more Chileans voting.

The final debate between the two took place on Tuesday this week. Topics discussed include Transantiago (the Chilean capital’s public transport system), 27F (The name given to the Earthquake on 27th February 2010) and the different aspects each candidate could offer to presidency. According to a poll posted on Twitter by television station La Tercera, 72% of voters believe that Evelyn Matthei ‘won’ the debate.

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Elections in Honduras: Unfulfilled Expectations


On Sunday 24th November, Hondurans took to the polls to choose a new leader, as current president Porfirio Lobo’s term comes to an end. Security and corruption were at the centre of this presidential campaign, a first in terms of the amount of parties -eight- that put forth candidates.

In a country with one of the highest registered homicide rates in the world, at 86.5 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants according to the UN, with 60% of the population living in poverty, and with entrenched corruption at all levels of society, many believed the outcome could be the start for a different Honduras. International electoral observers were sent in to ensure the election process was transparent and the international community held its breath in hope that the country would be able to enter a new era, leaving behind the traumatic aftermath of the 2009 coup.

President elect Juan Orlando Hernández (photo: Tercera Información)

President elect Juan Orlando Hernández (photo: Tercera Información)

As polls closed on Sunday, however, a very different situation emerged. The ruling right-wing Partido Nacional, fronted by Juan Orlando Hernández, was declared the winner with 34.08% of the vote. His main rival, Xiomara Castro from the Libre party (and wife of ousted president Manuel Zelaya) came in second with 28.9% of the votes. While a third of the votes were yet to be counted, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (SET) of Honduras declared that the trend was “irreversible”, and that Hernández was the winner of the elections.

After two decades of rule by the Partido Nacional and the conservative Partido Liberal, it seems Hondurans decided to stick with the right-leaning policies of Hernández, which include the militarisation of police and neoliberal economic policies. Opponent Castro’s left-wing policies spoke to a very different group of voters, mainly individuals that have often felt marginalised by Honduran society, such as journalists, activists, LGBT groups, and farmers, among others.

However, several days later, doubts still linger as to whether that truly was the will of the Honduran people.

Controversial Results

The announcement of Hernández’s victory sparked allegations of fraud from two opposition parties and widespread student protests. On Tuesday, a student group called ‘Black Shirts’ occupied an important boulevard in Tegucigalpa and shouted “no to fraud” while barricading the streets. Police were called to the protest areas and there was a four hour stand-off which resulted in various injuries.

Castro, for her part, denounced the election results and claimed the SET had committed fraud. The Libre leader claimed that 20% of polling station results processed by the Tribunal were inconsistent with the results from the actual voting stations. Salvador Nasralla, who was running for president as the Partido Anti-Corrupción candidate, also claimed fraud and declared he would initiate legal proceedings to challenge the results.

Throughout the campaign, Libre has enjoyed widespread popularity and fostered impressive grassroots support. Its followers believed in the promises of economic and political change, which include prioritising support for farmers and small businesses, a significant step in a country where serious human rights abuses towards farmers have increased and where poverty is pervasive. When Libre fell behind in the polls, after being neck to neck with Hernández throughout the campaign, many were surprised.

Fears of fraud had been present during the campaign. In October, three US diplomats sent a letter to John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, claiming Hernández’s party had “dominated” the electoral authorities, which would make it hard for Honduran citizens to contest the results if there were suspicions of fraud. They also claimed the newly instated militarisation of police could pose a thread to citizens, especially opposition supporters.

Despite these warnings, however, international observers, including an 800-strong European Union delegation, did not report incidents of malpractice or inconsistency. The US Ambassador to Honduras, Lisa Kubiske, later claimed the elections had been “in general transparent.”

Contrasting Reports

Militarisation increased in Honduras after the 2009 coup (photo: Yamil Gonzáles)

Militarisation increased in Honduras after the 2009 coup (photo: Yamil Gonzáles)

Other reports from foreign delegations have called Kubiske’s words into question, casting doubt on the fairness and transparency of the electoral process. The president of the Latin American Parliament, Group Venezuela, Deputy Rodrigo Cabezas, discussed his concern publicly over allegations of electoral manipulation of the results. He claimed several facts about the process were suspicious, such as the difficulties imposed on international observers. Examples of these difficulties include a group of Canadian observers who claim to have been intimidated by security forces on polling day, and reports from other observers who were told to leave as the votes were being counted. Urging authorities to investigate the claims, Cabezas also called for international leaders to reject the results and support a clear investigation over the outcomes.

A foreign delegation of some 160 members from NGO La Voz de los de Abajo, the International Action Centre, and a group of US LGBT rights activists were present in the country throughout the entire electoral process as well.

The delegation had been monitoring polling stations in Siguatepeque, Taulabe, Otoro, and Comayagua, and claimed they received numerous reports of tampering from residents. According to a local news source, in Siguatepeque the election tabulation results had already been filled out and signed before the election had begun. Furthermore, according to the same source, many people had arrived to vote only to find that although they had registered to vote and had proper identification, their names were not on the list and therefore could not vote.

Reports also emerged that some of the names on the electoral rolls were of deceased individuals. Others were told they were registered to vote hundreds of kilometres from where they actually resided, in parts of the country where they had never been. The delegation claimed they also intervened in one situation where a wheelchair-bound person was not allowed to enter the voting premises. Other more worrying and aggressive tactics, they said, included armed individuals forcing people, who were wearing Libre party t-shirts, to leave polling stations at gunpoint in Copan.

Former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, who visited Honduras as part of Partido Libre’s human rights commission, also claimed he witnessed widespread irregularities, stating: “We saw some issues related to changes in identity cards, possible purchase of votes, mechanisms to induce voting, which we will explain in an upcoming report.”

What Next?  

As all these claims come forward, Castro is not planning to go away quietly. She said on Tuesday that her party is coordinating its next move to expose the truth of who really should have won the election. Her husband, echoing the voice of the numerous supporters that have come out since Monday in protest over the results, said: “We are going to defend the rights of the people, the right of sovereignty, the right to reform this country that is being lost precisely because of a lack of transparency.”

Xiomara Castro and supporters in 2009 (photo:  hablaguate on Flickr)

Xiomara Castro and supporters in 2009 (photo: hablaguate on Flickr)

Hernández, meanwhile, has been accepting congratulations from various foreign leaders and has called for Castro to join a “grand national pact” against insecurity and poverty. He said: “The Honduran people voted to strengthen the democratic system of Honduras, they voted for peace, they voted for reconciliation.”

While a number of the other presidential candidates have since accepted the results and backed Hernández, the Honduran people, and specifically the supporters of Libre, are coming out in numbers to reject the outcome and fight for their vote. With the threat of intimidation tactics looming, as reported by numerous protesters in recent days, and Honduras’ track record of intimidation of government critics, Libre supporters are not backing down in their support of who they feel is the real president of Honduras: Xiomara Castro.

 

Click here to find out what Argentines think about the elections in Honduras.

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Honduras: Election Results Declared Irreversible


National party leader and president-elect of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

National party leader and president-elect of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (SET) of Honduras has declared the results of Sunday’s election “irreversible”. Juan Orlando Hernández of the right-wing Partido Nacional is set to become the next Honduran president, with 34.08% of the vote, ahead of his main rival Xiomara Castro (28.92%) of the left-wing Partido Libre. A third of the votes are yet to be counted.

The country has been gripped by tension since early Monday when preliminary results placed Hernández in the lead, although Castro, the wife of former coup-ousted president Manuel Zelaya, claimed Libre would take the first spot.

Yesterday, the head of the electoral body, David Matamoros declared: “The outcome is decisive. The figures that we have reported reflect a trend that is irreversible. The outcome is not going to change.”

Libre has publicly doubted the impartiality of the electoral board, and on Monday evening, Castro supporters protested in front of the tribunal. Libre claims 20% of polling station results processed by the electoral body are inconsistent with the results from the actual voting stations. The Partido Anti-Corrupción candidate Salvador Nasralla, who came in fourth place, also denounced the alleged inconsistencies in the results and has since stated he would initiate legal proceedings.

According to a collective of national human rights organisations, “the buying and selling of votes and credentials by the Partido Nacional, even using the Nationalist discount card ‘Let’s work now’, has been observed in many parts of the country. In addition, there have been irregularities in the electoral registry, where people who are alive are listed as deceased, and voters have been transferred without consultation.”

Former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, who visited Honduras as part of Partido Libre’s human rights commission, also said he witnessed irregularities on Sunday’s election. “We saw some issues related to changes in identity cards, possible purchase of votes, mechanisms to induce voting, which we will explain in an upcoming report,” said the judge. Garzón, as well as Guatemalan Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú and members of the World Social Forum, were denied observer status by the SET.

The US government, however, claimed Sunday’s elections were conducted “in general” in a transparent way, as stated in a press release. The US Department of State wrote: “Honduran and international observers, including those from the US embassy, have reported that the [electoral] process was in general transparent.” The press release also urges the country, which has the highest homicide rate in Latin America, to resolve any contentions in a peaceful way.

According to international observers, legal mechanisms are in place for candidates to peacefully challenge results if they wish to do so.

Outgoing president Porfirio Lobo declared Hernández the “president-elect”, urging the other candidates to accept the results. Hernandez has started receiving congratulatory calls from presidents such as Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, and Mariano Rajoy of Spain.

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