Source: The Intercept
HONDURAN PRESIDENT JUAN Orlando Hernández, using the specter of rampant crime and the drug trade, won extensive support from the American government to build up highly trained state security forces. Now, those same forces are repressing democracy.
The post-election situation in Honduras continues to deteriorate as Hernández, a conservative leader and stalwart U.S. ally in Central America, has disputed the result of last week’s vote while working to crack down on protests sweeping the nation.
Initial results showed Salvador Nasralla, an ex-sportscaster chosen by an alliance of left-wing political parties as their candidate, leading the vote count after the November 26 presidential election. The lead was substantial enough that a magistrate on the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, or TSE, estimated victory by Nasralla, characterizing his lead as “irreversible.”
The next day the TSE announced that Hernández was closing the gap. Then it suddenly stopped publicizing the tally, alleging that its electronic system went down, prompting criticism from European Union election observers. Police and military flooded the streets in the hours of silence that followed. On Wednesday, the announcement that Hernández had overtaken Nasralla in the vote count was met with disbelief. In the wordsof Salvadoran journalist Carlos Dada, “There are only two possibilities: Either the TSE is of Olympic incompetence or it’s committing fraud.”
The turn of events led to chaos on the streets, and Hernández instituted a military-imposed curfew across the nation on Friday. At least one protester has been killed and scores of others have been injured and arrested in violent clashes with police.
For human rights observers, the curfew and delay of an official recount are steps to produce an inevitable Hernández victory, regardless of the vote tally.
“The delay has only served to fuel claims of mass fraud, confusion, and deep suspicion,” said Karen Spring, a human rights activist with the Honduras Solidarity Network. The demonstrators “went into the street because they know that being calm means allowing a cover-up to happen and what many call a dictator to illegally stay in power,” she added.