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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

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Students should recognize stolen Honduran elections


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Since 2009, there has been a continuing crisis of political legitimacy in Honduras as the government has proven it does not deserve its position as a representative of the people. This resulted in Hondurans, fed up with years of corruption and a stagnant economy, to march in protest across the country and in the capital, Tegucigalpa. 

Since that time, Hondurans have been courageously protesting in the face of police violence and have been reaching out to the world for solidarity. As students, we should find ways of effectively reaching back. 

For Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, only violence can sway the opinions of protesters to accept what is quickly becoming a dictatorship.

In November 2017, the people of Honduras were well on their way to electing a new president and setting the stage for a political transition from repression to anti-corruption.

With a significant lead in the polls, the candidate of the Leftist party Libre, Salvador Nasralla, was set to become the new president of a country rife with corruption and military intervention. However, after the announcement of his impending presidency was made by the country’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal, they later announced that there were “technical failures” and that Hernandez was winning by a slim margin.

After the former democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a coup d’état in 2009, the new Honduran government began a severe crackdown on women’s reproductive rights, environmental activists, LGBTQ activists, and on dissenters more generally. This was followed by a mass-exodus of children fleeing the violence for the United States. In short, Honduran civil society began to rupture at its core.

While U.S. media has made plenty of time to cover the Iranian protests, they seemed to have little, if any, time for the Honduran protests.

The significance is clear: The plight of Hondurans who live under a supported violent police-state and whose election result was recognized soon after by the United States does not matter to the political elite.

The interests of the Honduran state do not clash with those of the United States, so their protests do not render the same significance.

The Organization of American States has called out the Honduran government for its role in fabricating the results and declared that Nasralla had won the election. This was a surprise given that perhaps no other international body has historically aligned its regional interests closer to the United States than any other in Latin America.

While this may have been a relief for some, the right-wing governments of Guatemala, Colombia and Mexico were quick to recognize the result. Given that the latter two are highly unpopular within their own countries, this should speak volumes to how far the right-wing will go in Latin America to maintain their hegemony.

With at least 31 protesters dead from police violence, as students, we have to be questioning why our country is so bent on supporting an illegitimate government and why our media has given such little coverage to the events. The people of Honduras deserve better, and we can play a role in supporting those who are calling for a vote recount and a change in the status quo.

Staff columnist Brant Roberts is a history junior and can be reached at [email protected] 

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