World Divided on Honduras Elections as Rights Advocates Say Vote Was Marred by Government Repression
continued local and international concern over repression, Honduras
held elections on Nov. 29, with National Party candidate Porfirio
"Pepe" Lobo Sosa claiming victory by a wide margin. The most recent
counts published by the country's Supreme Electoral Tribunal showed
Lobo taking 56 percent of votes, 18
percentage points ahead of Liberal Party candidate Elvin Santos.
on voter turnoutâ€”a closely watched measure of popular support, as the
resistance movement was calling for a boycott of the electoral
processâ€”have varied wildly. The resistance movement estimated a 30 to
35 percent turnout, while numbers from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal and
widely reported in the Honduran press showed turnout at 61.3 percent
of the voting populace.
However, according to Honduras Coup 2009, an independent poling firm
hired by the tribunal to do exit polling reported turnout at
comparison, according to data published by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal,
votes cast in the 2005 presidential election represented 55 percent of
Associate Producer Oscar Estrada, who lives in Honduras, said that
while neither he (nor anyone he knows) participated in the elections,
he appears on the official register as having voted and said he knows
of similar cases. He pointed to a decision by the Electoral
Council, announced midway through election day, to allow voting without
finger staining, a fraud-prevention measure. Though the official
rationale was that they ran out of ink because of massive turnoutâ€”a
reason made suspect by the agency's own exit poll numbersâ€”it also makes
the verification of voter participation difficult to prove one way
to the Honduran Embassy in Washingtonâ€”an entity loyal to Manuel Zelaya's governmentâ€”as
of Nov. 25, one presidential candidate, one vice-presidential
candidate, 17 congresspersons, eight mayors, four deputy mayors, and
six city council members, among others, had officially withdrawn from
the electoral process. Many more were expected to pull out before the
Countries around the
world remain divided on whether to accept the results of this
election. So far, the United States, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica,
Panama and Peru have announced recognition of the outcome, while Spain,
France, and much of Latin America have refused. Great Britain applauded the elections as "peaceful" but calling for the
Tegucigalpa-San JosÃ© Accord to be honored without further delay. The
European Union is still deliberating its stance.
at the Ibero-American Summit taking place in Estoril,
Portugal, leaders from Spain, Portugal, Andorra and 19 Latin American countries
today issued a joint declaration condemning the June 28 coup and calling for
the reinstatement of deposed president Manuel Zelaya, but stopped short
of passing judgment on Sunday's elections.
claims of a peaceful election and U.S. press coverage focusing on how
the vote is moving Honduras past the crisis, some of the repressive
behavior that marked the electoral run-up also marred election day.
Thousands of military and reservists were on hand at election centers,
and La Tribuna reported one
incident in which the military squad disobeyed Electoral Tribunal orders
by standing in the doorway of a polling station and taking away
credentials from independent candidate representatives.
observation delegation from the Quixote Center reported
that a peaceful resistance protest in San Pedro Sula, involving
nonviolent tactics like sitting in the face of military and police
aggression, was broken up violently by police wielding a water cannon
and tear gas. Amnesty International also reported an unprovoked military shooting on a moving car on Nov. 28.
were reported by Honduran and international rights groups who observed
election activities. An Amnesty International
delegation called on authorities to reveal the identities of detainees
and to have a court available to address these urgent matters.
NGOs, including the Center for Justice and International Law, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and Hondurans for Democracy expressed concern over
reported acts of military and police violence and intimidation and
their impact on the electoral process.
part, Zelaya said the election has only intensified the political crisis,
and he declared the figures of more than 60 percent voter turnout
fraudulent. The Honduran Congress announced it will
make a decision tomorrow on the order of Zelaya's restitution. However,
reinstatement alone is not seen by Honduran rights groups or the
resistance movement as a reason to recognize elections that have taken
place under repression, nor a remedy to
Hondurasâ€™ democratic crisis.