Some five million Hondurans They are called on Sunday to elect a replacement for the questioned president Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH) as well as the members of the new Congress and the communal authorities. Fifteen candidates are running for the presidency. The latest polls assign possibilities to Nasry Asfura, of the ruling National Party; Yani Rosenthal, (Liberal Party) and, in particular, Xiomara Castro, of the Freedom and Refoundation Party (Free). She is the wife of former President Manuel Zelaya, whose overthrow in 2009 by a military and judicial conspiracy opened the doors of a deep political, economic and social crisis that has lasted until the present.
The dilemma between continuity or change marks the day. The level of electoral participation it will have, according to various analysts, an impact on the polls: the higher the abstention rate, the lower the chances of the opponents of defeating the ruling party.
The inheritance of JOH, a politician investigated by a North American court for crimes related to drug trafficking, is devastating: Honduras is 80% poor. Many of them survive on remittances. 20% of the GDP of that country comes from shipments that, this year, will reach 8,000 million. The future president will not only have to face this scourge but also other of its most disturbing derivations: the violence of criminal gangs and migratory flows towards USA. The caravans of desperate families to that country have had a huge dramatic background in the middle of the pandemic. In the first ten months of this year, 44,697 Hondurans were deported from the United States, 27.2% more than in 2020.
The elections, which only have one round, were preceded by numerous episodes of political violence. The office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, counted at least 29 deaths since the primary elections were called in 2020. The elections bear the mark of suspicion. In 2017, the observer mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) put in doubt the integrity and quality of the result that allowed JOH to be reelected. But the Donald Trump Administration backed the president’s ambitions to stay in power.
Three years later, Hernández is seen as the head of a kind of narco-state. The New York prosecution has implicated him, along with his brother, in a plot linked to the input of cocaine in United States. Sunday’s results are not unrelated to judicial derivations. There is fear that the verdict of the polls will be altered as it was four years ago because that is the only way that JOH seems to have to guarantee a certain level of impunity. The ruling party’s rivals warned at least during the campaign that the days of indulgence were over. A victory for the ruling party in these conditions could open a new cycle of strong confrontations in Honduras, specialists warn.