In recent days, the Honduran people have faced prospects of a new violent right-wing coup.
After bravely casting their ballots Sunday November 26 in an election rife with corruption and intimidation, the people of Honduras had reason to hope. As votes were initially counted early this week, totals trended towards a victory for the Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship (OAED) party, and showed the popular will to oust a 8-year post-coup dictatorship.
The head of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) stated that “the winning tendency of the opposition is irreversible.” But despite initial vote tallies, the right-wing incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez and his National Party declared themselves the winner.
On Tuesday November 28 at 5 PM, the TSE suddenly fell silent while reporting election counts. For twenty-four hours, the country had no news of their future. When the TSE returned, Hernandez’s share began increasing without pause.
Additionally, a leaked recording obtained by the Economist suggests that National Party poll workers were trained to rig vote counts at polling places. “This stays between us; we’re all National Party members,” a government employee announced to the poll worker trainees. “Today is Plan B. Plan B means we’re on the offensive.”
The government has deployed the military all over Honduras. Massive protests have rocked the country, drawing tens of thousands of people out in the capital Tegucigalpa against Hernandez’s fraud and intimidation. In over 200 demonstrations, ordinary people have set up barricades and faced down the military as it seeks to impose what many call the National Party’s second coup.
The human rights organization Mesa Nacional de Derechos Humanos states some thirteen people have died amid the repression over the last few days, including at least two teenagers. A piece by Honduras Resists reports that the military has shot people as young as twelve years old, and beat a man with cerebral palsy.
Our partners have already faced severe repression under the Hernandez government. Global Witness has called Honduras “the deadliest country in the world for environmental activism.” Since 2010 more than 120 activists have been killed, including Berta Cáceres of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH).
As Gaspar Sanchéz of COPINH said at a recent Grassroots event in Chelsea, MA, “99% of the cases, hate crimes and violent deaths, are not being investigated.”
“For Indigenous Peoples in Honduras, the last 8 years have been devastating,” our partner the Black Fraternal Organizations of Honduras (OFRANEH) wrote in a statement. “It is part of the macabre scenario of the current administration, that if they win the elections in question again, we will move to a population displacement and a total loss of our territory and common goods.”
But Honduran workers, peasants and social movements continue to show their deep commitment to democracy and human rights. They continue to defy the dictatorship. In recent hours, the national police have declared they will refuse to obey the Hernandez government’s orders.
“We aren’t with a political ideology,” said a spokesman outside the national police headquarters. “We can’t keep confronting people, and we don’t want to repress and violate the rights of the Honduran people.”
The United States bears particular responsibility for Hernandez’s dictatorship and the repression facing ordinary Hondurans. Hernandez came to power thanks to an illegal U.S.-backed coup in 2009, and received $57 million in U.S. military aid to Honduras between 2009 and 2014. That figure does not include tens of millions of dollars worth of additional U.S. military contracts in Honduras.
During a 2013 election with hundreds of instances of irregularities and violence, the U.S. ambassador at that time declared the election transparent and legitimate even before the official count was announced.
And as if to spit in the faces of Hondurans amid their current struggle for democracy, the U.S. State Department certified on November 28 that the Hernandez regime was “fighting corruption and supporting human rights,” allowing it to receive tens of millions of dollars more in U.S. aid.
In recent days, more and more ordinary people around the world have made solidarity with the people of Honduras. Over 100 U.S. organizations, including Grassroots International, have called on Congress to cut off military aid. And activists have taken to the streets in Puerto Rico and New York in support of Hondurans. Grassroots pressure and solidarity is growing.
In the words of Grassroots International’s executive director Chung-Wah Hong, “Now more than ever, Honduras needs the people and government of the US to stand with them, to support independent, credible investigations into the electoral fraud and state violence, and to immediately cut all US funding to Honduran security forces.”