Things That Matter

After Claims Of Electoral Fraud, Hondurans Are Fighting Their Government For A More Transparent Vote Recount

Violence has gripped the nation of Honduras as the Honduran Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) has refused to announce a winner in the presidential election held last week. Hondurans are demanding their government hold a new election, claiming that results from the recent vote are fraudulent. The race for the presidency came down to U.S.-backed incumbent, Juan Orlando Hernández, and challenger, TV star Salvador Nasralla.

One person, 19-year-old Kimberly Dayana Fonseca, was shot and killed in the nation’s capital of Tegucigalpa on Dec. 2 when police opened fire into a crowd of unarmed protesters. According to The Guardian, Fonseca was killed after the Honduran government issued a 10-day nationwide curfew. The curfew forces Honduran citizens to stay in their homes from 6 pm. to 6 a.m.

Here’s what we know so far about the crisis gripping the Central American country.

Salvador Nasralla’s supporters claim that the presidential election is being rigged to make Juan Orlando Hernández the winner.

Nasralla was leading in the polls when the results first started rolling in from the TSE. NPR writes that TSE reporting stalled when 57 percent of the votes were counted. At that time, Nasralla had a substantial lead over Hernández, one the TSE called irreversible. Yet, when the TSE was back online the next day the gap between both the candidates was closing. TSE then reported that electrical issues brought the servers down again before coming back online. Within that timeframe that servers were down, TSE claims Hernández took the lead.

Hondurans are calling on the government to have a transparent recount of the votes.

“If Juan Orlando wins, we’re ready to accept that, but we know that wasn’t the case,” Marlon Ochoa, the campaign manager of Nasralla’s alliance, told Reuters. “We know that Salvador won and that’s why they’re refusing the transparency demands.”

The unrest has led to fires being set across the country and thousands injured in clashes with police forces.

People are being arrested for being outside during the curfew and hundreds have been arrested for looting. Many are comparing the current crisis to the coup that overthrew the government in 2009. Back then, President Manuel Zelaya, who was closely aligned with Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, wanted to rewrite the country’s constitution and lift presidential term limits. The result was months of protests and infighting before the military rushed the presidential palace in Tegucigalpa and exiled the president to Costa Rica while he was still in his pajamas.

As a result of the ongoing unrest, the TSE recounted 1,000 votes. However, protesters are demanding more.

Nasralla’s alliance is calling for the TSE to recount the votes in three of Honduras’ 18 voting regions. The candidate has been vocal about having a completely transparent redo of the presidential election to calm the unrest that has shaken the country.

One Salvadoran journalist has called into question the actions of the TSE.

“There are only two possibilities: The TSE is either as incompetent as the Olympic committee or they are committing fraud,” wrote Carlos Dada, the founder of El Faro.

Despite the ongoing turmoil, forced curfew and reports of physical violence against peaceful protesters, the U.S. State Department claims that Honduras has fought against corruption and supported human rights.

As a result, the Honduran government stands to receive $644 million in assistance, according to Reuters. The decision came just two days after the election crisis began.


READ: The Trump Administration Starts Rolling Back TPS Protection For Nicaraguans And Hondurans

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El Salvador’s Election Leads To Landslide Win For The President’s New Political Party

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El Salvador’s Election Leads To Landslide Win For The President’s New Political Party

El Salvador has held its midterm elections two years into the term of President Nayib Bukele and the president has been handed a major victory. Although Bukele’s name was not on the ballot, Nuevas Ideas candidates relied on their connection to the conservative president, and his image was plastered on campaign posters around the country.

The strong showing for Nuevas Ideas came despite allegations of voting fraud from Bukele and other party members. While, international commmentators point out that with his new supermajority, there are very few checks on Bukele’s power.

President Bukele’s Nuevas Ideas party wins a supermajority during midterm elections.

In what many are calling a first test for President Bukele’s Nuevas Ideas political party, the midterm elections delivered a landslide victory to the president and his party. With more than half the votes counted, the president’s party won a supermajority of at least 61 out of 84 seats in the country’s Legislative Assembly.

The midterm elections have completely upended the traditional political system that has existed in the country since the 1994 peace agreement. Not once has a single party had such a major victory. These elections also represent the collapse of the two-party system that has governed El Salvador for more than 25 years.

With the added votes of the GANA party, a small party that has pledged loyalty to the president, supporters of Bukele will control over 70% of the legislature, effectively removing all limits on the 39-year-old president’s ability to implement his agenda.

The election results remove any checks the authoritative president once faced.

Bukele will become the country’s most powerful leader in decades following these results, which is causing alarm among administration officials in Washington. Joe Biden’s administration has already voiced “worries” over Bukele’s tactics. These have included disobeying supreme court rulings and sending troops into the national assembly to coerce legislators into approving his spending plans.

Even before official results were in, the 39-year-old president, an ally of former US president Donald Trump, tweeted “VICTORY” over images of fireworks.

Bukele’s harsh crackdown on gang violence and his adept social media campaigns against corruption and traditional politics have made him popular with Salvadorans who are tired of endemic violence in one of the world’s most crime-ridden countries.

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Honduras Moves To Enshrine Bans On Abortion And Marriage Equality In The Constitution

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Honduras Moves To Enshrine Bans On Abortion And Marriage Equality In The Constitution

Honduras already has one of the world’s strictest bans on abortion. It’s completely banned in all circumstances, including even in cases of rape and incest, and when the person’s life and the health are in danger. The country also has a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, including recognizing those that were performed abroad.

So, why is the country moving to further limit access to abortion and marriage equality?

The Honduran Congress has voted to make it impossible to legalize abortion and same-sex marriage.

In the first round of voting, the country’s congress had voted to move forward on complete and total constitutional bans against abortion and marriage equality. But lawmakers are taking it a step further, by increasing the votes needed to undo their constitutional amendments in the future.

One lawmaker referred to the legislation as a “constitutional lock” to prevent any future moderations of the abortion law.

However, the amendments require a second reading/vote and activists across the country (and world) are mobilizing to help stop these amendments from being voted in. But they face an uphill battle, as the legislation has overwhelming support within Congress and from the country’s staunchly conservative president.

Honduras already has among the world’s strictest bans on abortion.

Abortion in Honduras is already illegal in all circumstances. The country’s criminal code imposes prison sentences of up to six years on people who undergo abortions and medical professionals who provide them. The government also bans emergency contraception, or “the morning after pill,” which can prevent pregnancy after rape, unprotected sex, or contraceptive failure.

“Honduras’ draconian legislation already bans abortions, even in cases of rape and incest, when the person’s life and the health are in danger, and when the fetus will not survive outside the womb,” said Ximena Casas, Americas women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “This decree will make it virtually impossible to carry out the recommendations from multiple international human rights bodies to end this violation of reproductive rights.”

Honduras also already has a strict ban on same-sex marriage.

The 2005 constitutional amendment prohibits recognizing marriage between people of the same sex, including same-sex marriages contracted in other countries. Honduras also bans adoption by same-sex couples.

“By seeking to permanently and comprehensively block any possibility of accessing marriage for same-sex couples, the Honduran Congress is entrenching state-sponsored homophobia,” said Cristian González Cabrera, Americas lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“In a country where LGBT people already experience high levels of violence and discrimination, this effort to amend the constitution is sending the message that these people may be further stigmatized.”

Congress is also making it harder for future lawmakers to undo their constitutional amendments.

Not only was it not enough to double down on these draconian bans on abortion and marriage equality, lawmakers are moving to increase the threshold of votes to undo their bans.

Constitutional changes have until now been permitted with a two-thirds majority, but the new legislation raises that bar to three-quarters within the 128-member body. The measure still needs to be ratified by a second vote. However, support was clear on Thursday: with 88 legislators voting in favor, 28 opposed and seven abstentions.

Mario Pérez, a lawmaker with the ruling party of President Juan Orlando Hernandez, formally proposed the change last week, calling it a “constitutional lock” to prevent any future moderations of the abortion law.

Many see the constitutional amendment as a response to Argentina’s move to legalize abortion last month.

It was just last month that Argentina voted in favor of legalizing access to abortion. The South American nation became the largest Latin American country to allow abortion after its senate approved the historic law change by 38 votes in favor to 29 against, with one abstention.

For years, abortion has also been illegal in Argentina. The procedure was illegal except in cases where the mother or baby’s lives were in danger. In 2019, the country passed a law that also included rape victims as exceptions. 

The push towards various kinds of gender rights–including abortion rights–has been central to President Alberto Fernández’s administration. The center-left politician campaigned on a platform that emphasized the rights of women, gay, and trans communities since he was elected in 2019. Even throughout the devastation of the pandemic, Fernández has insisted on keeping his promises towards marginalized communities.

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