On 23 January, a faction of deputies broke away from the official process of election for the president of the National Congress to elect their own congressional ‘president’ in parallel — traveling to a country club in a small city 32 kilometers from the capital to conduct this unsanctioned ceremony.
The implication was clear: despite the resounding victory for Xiomara Castro and her party LIBRE in the November general elections, the new faction was preparing to sabotage her presidency and derail her campaign to end narco-corruption in Honduras.
That is why the Progressive International is returning to Tegucigalpa — to observe the inauguration of the country’s first female president, and to ensure the peaceful transition of power to her government.
The Progressive International has been observing the electoral process in Honduras since before the presidential elections on 28 November. Combining observation at voting centers with real-time analysis of the vote count, delegates from the PI Observatory worked with the Centro de Estudio para la Democracia (CESPAD) and the National Electoral Council (CNE) to ensure transparency and accountability in the country's democratic process.
During those elections, delegates observed a fierce attack on the country’s democratic institutions. Targeted political violence, mass disinformation and rampant corruption threatened to derail the democratic process. A cyberattack of unknown origins crashed the electoral authority's webpage in the morning of the election, and just hours later — with no votes counted and no clear exit poll — the ruling National Party declared victory in a major press conference: a clear effort to dissuade turnout among remaining voters.
Nonetheless, democracy triumphed on election day. Castro's election reflected the courage of the Honduran people to overcome efforts to suppress their participation in the election, and the return of democracy to Honduras is a staggering achievement.
But this triumph is fragile — as demonstrated by this week’s events. In the decade since the 2009 coup, the armed forces have only become better supplied, better financed, and more deeply connected with US military allies. Meanwhile, the network of drug trafficking has come to capture a greater proportion of the political system.
In her campaign for president, Xiomara Castro set out high ambitions for her government, with plans for a process of national “refoundation” that expands social and economic rights via a new constitution. She has pledged to reverse the privatization of Honduran territory through the use of Special Eocnomic Zones, or ZEDEs; to decriminalize abortion; and to uproot the corruption in the country’s judicial system.
The Progressive International arrives in Tegucigalpa to defend this process of “refoundation” and the millions of Honduran citizens that turned out to vote for it on 28 November — to confront the rising coup against president-elect Castro and to work with progressive forces across the country to bring justice for the crimes its people have so recently endured.
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