Honduras: US Rights Groups Condemn Election Result as Not Credible
US trained, vetted and funded elite police unit, the TIGRES at road blockade of the southern exit of Tegucigalpa. Armed with heavy weapons, tear gas canisters hanging from their chests, and fire extinguishers. The TIGRES were allegedly created to fight drug traffickers and organized crime. Photo: Honduran Solidarity Network
CALL ON US TO REFRAIN FROM HASTY RECOGNITION OF RESULTS, HALT US MILITARY AID
For Immediate Release: December 18, 2017
Jonathan Leaning, w: 617-524-1400 cell: 857-719-9789 firstname.lastname@example.org g;
Elise Roberts: cell: 920.421.2269 email@example.com
(Boston, MA) On the heels of the announcement of the election win by Honduras’ globally discredited Electoral Tribunal amidst turmoil, violence, and mounting evidence of fraud, US rights and civil society groups called on the US Congress and the State Department to halt military aid to Honduras, and not recognize the announced results until a credible, independent investigation into the election has been conducted which addresses all claims of fraud and political violence. The Organization of American States has even called for fresh elections in Honduras, only hours after President Juan Orlando Hernández was declared the winner.
“This has been a ‘coup against democracy’ in Honduras,” said Victoria Cervantes of the Honduras Solidarity Network. “The levels of violence against the citizens by the government and the suspension of constitutional rights to defend fraud are the acts of dictatorship. 14 people have been killed. The unprecedentedly slow tabulation of final results by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) was blatantly fraudulent with sudden, inexplicable computer shutdowns, and disappearing and reappearing Actas (vote tally sheets). We are further outraged at the support of the US and Canadian governments for legitimizing a dictatorship in Honduras.”
The call for an independent investigation follows on the heels of a call earlier this month for transparency in the Honduran elections by over US 100 human rights, faith and civil society rights groups, many outraged by the as-yet unsolved assassination of world renowned Honduran environment and indigenous leader, Berta Cáceres.
“We have seen a massive increase in human rights violations, including threats and violence against journalists, Indigenous communities, and human rights defenders, since the 2009 coup,” says Elise Roberts of Witness for Peace. “The assassination of Berta Cáceres marked a new level of state violence and impunity, and the reported fraud in the November 26th elections, and the violence and repression since, are a reinforcement of this illegitimate and violent government. Throughout this escalation of state repression and corruption, the US has remained a powerful funder and supporter of the government. It is critical that the US immediately suspend all aid to Honduran security forces and not recognize the presidential election results as valid amidst ongoing fraud, violence, and repression.”
“The US must not declare a hasty recognition of today’s election announcement. That would be tantamount to legitimizing fraud and repression. We remember too well, how the US support of the 2009 military coup ushered in years of brutal dictatorship,” said Jovanna Garcia Soto of Grassroots International. “We cannot be part of bulldozing over legitimate objections of lack of transparency, lack of independent oversight and violence against civilians and social movements. Democracy cannot be squelched — not in our name.”
The US must not declare a hasty recognition of today’s election announcement. That would be tantamount to legitimizing fraud and repression.”
Jovanna Garcia Soto, Grassroots International Solidarity Program Officers for Latin America
The current administration of the National Party is led by Juan Orlando Hernández and is in control of the government, military and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE in Spanish) overseeing the election. Mr. Hernández originally came to power during the period following the 2009 military coup d’etat supported by the US government.
After the initial release of official results by the TSE showed the opposition candidate leading by approximately 5 percentage points based on more than half the returns, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal did not resume releasing presidential election results for more than a day. For comparison, in the 2013 presidential election, the winner was declared with a similar proportion of the returns in. When the updates resumed, the TSE’s numbers began showing that the number of votes for the incumbent, President Hernández, had passed the opposition candidate, although these results have been widely criticized as not credible. The long delay, and the dramatic shift in the tendency of the vote count reported before and after that delay, raised serious doubts about the integrity of this election.
In addition, international delegations from La Voz de los de Abajo, Code Pink, and Witness for Peace witnessed and heard testimony of violent beatings of civilians, the ongoing intimidation through use of security forces, including US-funded security forces, as well as numerous incidents of fraud and violence at polling places.
On December 1, a presidential decree suspended Constitutional rights, imposed a curfew, and the military has used live ammunition and violence toward civilians, resulting in at least 22 deaths of protesters already, as reported by human rights groups in Honduras.
The coalition is calling on the US Congress and US State Department to:
- Not recognize the announced election outcome due to widespread reports of state involvement in electoral fraud and violence.
- Immediately suspend diplomatic relations with the Honduran government, including recalling our Charge D’Affaires/acting Ambassador, until the rule of law has been re-established, constitutional guarantees are fulfilled, and democratic processes and institutions are actually respected.
- Revoke the State Department’s certification that the Honduran government is meeting human rights and anti-corruption conditions.
- End US security aid to Honduras, including police and military aid, and support for Honduran security forces though the so-called “Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle” program; Pass HR 1299, the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act and its companion bill in the Senate.
- Condemn the Honduran government’s violent crackdown of protesters and suspension of Constitutional rights, and demand the the Honduran government immediately cease using live ammunition against civilians and remove the military from the streets;
- Extend Temporary Protected Status for the more than 57,000 Hondurans currently in the United States under its protection; and
- Respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples (including Garifuna communities) and peasant communities organizing to defend and protect ancestral territories, land, water and Mother Earth in the face of militarization and repression by the current Honduran regime.
“I spent 10 days in Honduras with a delegation of human rights and election observes with La Voz de los de Abajo. On the day of the elections we witnessed outright voter intimidation, bribery and fraud by representatives of the National Party, the party of the current President, Juan Orlando Hernández. The days following the election thousands of Hondurans took to the streets to protest the fact that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE by its Spanish initials) would not announce a winner of the presidential elections. We witnessed first hand repression of protesters. The Honduran military and police fired tear gas and opened water hoses on protestors on the first day of mass protest in Tegucigalpa, Nov. 30th. The following night, after a curfew was announced, the army fired live ammunition at protesters. The death toll since the curfew was announced has risen to 22 people,” stated Ana Orozco, Feminisms and Gender Justice Organizer, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
Grassroots International, www.grassrootsonline.org 179 Boylston Street, 4th Floor, Boston, MA, USA 02130, 617-524-1400. Grassroots International has worked since 1983 to connect people in the US with global movements solving the root causes of inequality and climate change.
Witness for Peace/Accion Permanente por la Paz, http://witnessforpeace.org/ 1115 Massachusetts Ave, NW Washington DC, USA 20005. Witness for Peace has worked since 1983 to support peace, justice, and sustainable economies in the Americas
Honduras Solidarity Network, http://www.hondurassolidarity. org. The Honduras Solidarity Network is a network of approximately 30 organizations from across Canada and the United States working to build solidarity with Honduran social movements.
# # #