Honduras: Intimidation in Upcoming Election?
This article, written by Eben Levey, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns intern for Central America issues, was first posted in their November/December newsletter. Levey will be participating in SHARE’s election observation delegation to Honduras this month.
On November 24, Honduran citizens will go to the polls to elect a new president. As the date rapidly approaches, there is much doubt that the current situation in Honduras will permit free and fair elections. From violence and intimidation to institutional impediments to justice, the closely contested presidential race will occur in a context far from conducive to democracy.
Since the military coup in 2009 that overthrew President Manuel Zelaya, Honduras has become one of the most violent countries in the world. As reported by CNN and NPR, San Pedro Sula, the second largest city in the country, has claimed the title of murder capital of the world for two years running. Yet much of the violence is far from random. The government that illegitimately replaced President Zelaya has embarked upon a course of militarization of police forces and criminalization of social protest, a course that has seen political opponents and social activists systematically targeted for prosecution, armed attacks, and assassinations.
In October, current President Porfirio Lobo deployed over 1,000 military members into the streets to act as law enforcement. These are forces that are trained to fight and kill, not to provide law enforcement. Furthermore, supervising the military police operations are individuals such as Juan Carlos “El Tigre” Bonilla, widely known for human rights violations such as extra-judicial assassinations. Many in opposition to the current government have decried the militarization of the country as a tactic to intimidate social movements and civil society opposition to the current government. Read More »