The president of the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights (ANPDH), and Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Estelí in Nicaragua, Abelardo Mata, yesterday said that "ever since a few months ago, arms are being delivered from Nicaragua to irregular groups with leftist tendencies connected to former President (Manuel) Zelaya (of Honduras) and are destabilizing the region bordering Nicaragua". According to Proceso Digital, Bishop Mata made the allegation after referring to confrontations between Nicaraguan authorities and armed groups, in which Honduran citizens have lost their lives in an area where there had been battles during the Nicaraguan civil war in... Read more
Upon his return to Toronto, I had the opportunity to catch up with Raul Burbano, Program Director of Common Frontiers. Common Frontiers is a multi-sectoral working group based in Toronto that organizes research, educational campaigns, and political action on issues related to hemispheric economic, social, and climate justice. Raul reported from Honduras during the election and was gracious enough to take the time to talk about his experiences and provide some analysis of the current electoral crisis.
The recent elections which were expected to strengthen the fabric of governance in Honduras failed to do so. Now the country has a president-elect with just 38.7 percent support who is facing accusations of electoral fraud, along with a fragmented parliament where the governing party will be in the minority. “It won’t be easy for Juan Orlando [Hernández], his task is going to be complicated, he’ll have to negotiate,” university student Juan Sánchez told IPS, referring to the candidate of the governing right-wing National Party (PN), who was declared winner of the Nov. 24 elections.
Latin America's most corrupt countries have shown little progress in global rankings in 2013, despite claims by some of the worst performers that they are tackling the problem. The Corruption Perceptions Index 2013, released on December 3 by the NGO Transparency International, saw Haiti become the worst performer in Latin America and the Caribbean, despite receiving the same corruption score and slightly improving its placement in the world rankings compared to last year -- to 163rd out of 177 countries.
Honduras' new president-elect has vowed to enforce hardline security policies to combat drug trafficking and gang activity in the region's most violent country, but his ability to deliver may be hampered by a weak political mandate after the election results were challenged. Conservative National Party candidate Juan Orlando Hernández was declared the winner of the Honduras presidential election that took place on November 24, but leftist opposition groups refused to concede defeat amid accusations of electoral fraud.
One of the most enlightening phrases about Latin American politics that I read in a book is that Latin Americans have not decided what political rules they are going to play by. Sometimes there are democracies, sometimes populist governments, sometimes they change for military dictatorships, sometimes there are serious disagreements by what rules we are going to play by, and civil war breaks out or there are coups. Since Honduras became independent in 1821, election rules have been changed in almost every way you can imagine -- who is eligible to vote, what offices are voted for and which are appointed, where voting takes place, how candidates are chosen and whether or not they are handpicked by the presidential candidate,... Read more
Readers of English language media may have seen stories quoting a press release from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) claiming that LIBRE failed to follow through yesterday on an agreement about starting the review of the Actas in the disputed presidential election. But just reporting the TSE's press release is neither the whole story, nor is it accurate. You are unlikely to have seen any reporting on LIBRE's response to the TSE press release, which is that David Matamoros, head of the TSE, was mistaken when he said the process of recounting the votes would begin [Wednesday], because there has been no agreement as to the procedures to be used for the process.
With the presidential election in Honduras over and Juan Orlando Hernández declared the winner by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), Mr. Hernández has moved exceptionally quickly to begin the transition process well before his inauguration on January 27, 2014. The day after the election on November 24, he named Honduras' Ambassador to the United States, Jorge Ramón Hernández Alcerro, to head a committee to ensure a smooth transfer of power from the Lobo administration to the Hernández administration. As one of the most senior and politically experienced and well-connected, as well as respected, members of the Nationalist Party, Ambassador Hernández was an excellent choice for the task.
One week after the general elections in Honduras, an environment of disagreement and uncertainty prevails in the Central American country -- one of the poorest, most insecure, and corrupt in the region. The Supreme Electoral Tribunal of this country has already proclaimed a victor: Juan Orlando Hernández of National Party, who was elected with 36.8 percent of the popular vote. However, in second place, just a mere 250,000 votes away, we have the new socialist party, LIBRE, with Xiomara Castro de Zelaya as the candidate. She is not accepting the results, and LIBRE has denounced electoral fraud and already carried out several peaceful protests.
Yesterday morning Xiomara Castro de Zelaya and the Libre Party filed a formal set of complaints about the vote counting process and its lack of transparency, documenting errors and discrepancies in the formal counting of the tally sheets of the over 16,000 Mesas Electorales Receptoras (MER). Libre representative Ricki Moncada then read the document to the assembled press. The Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE) head David Matamoros agreed to a public recount of the Actas: not the votes themselves, just a recount of the votes as recorded on the tally sheets.
The Forum on the Challenges of Bilingual Intercultural Education will take place in Trujillo on December 11, 2013 with the participation of the current Minister of Education, Marlon Escoto, the co-author of a new book on how or if the African Diaspora is taught in Public School curriculums in Central America Yesenia Martínez, and Pech and Garifuna teachers, leaders, and artisans. Mayors and District Supervisors for all of the department of Colón are invited. Melesio Gonzales, a Garifuna who worked as a social worker in California for many year, but now has returned to Trujillo, will also be speaking on the issues of drug and alcohol addiction, that are increasingly affecting Garifuna schools and towns.
Hondurans in Honduras and in key US cities such as New York and New Orleans went to polls to elect a new Honduran president. While there were nine candidates running, only three were serious contenders: Mauricio Villeda of the Liberal Party, Xiomara Castro de Zelaya of the Libre Party, and Juan Orlando Hernández of the National Party. Although many people in Honduras were angry at the National Party, which has been in power for the past four years and has had a particularly poor record on crime, Mr. Hernández managed to win primarily due to the division of the Liberal Party following the coup against President Manuel Zelaya in 2009. Discontented Liberals split off and formed Libre. This is in fact such a common occurrence in Honduran politics that whatever you may say about... Read more
Honduran politics never cease to baffle me. I’m not much into politics, never was, but in Honduras there’s no escape from it. The elections today hold the whole country in its grip and the tension is rising. I admit that when I lived in my home country, Holland, I voted only a few times, because of my lack of interest and confidence in politicians in general. Only when a super right wing party could possibly become a threat would I vote, not so much for any party, but against that particular one. I can’t recall any heated discussions about politics with friends; much less would I jump in the back up of a pick-up truck to wave a political flag or chant, as if that would ever happen in Holland. I don’t know the political... Read more
"I'll start by saying we were very concerned about having to travel through San Pedro Sula as part of our trip to the Bay Islands of Honduras. When the airline changed our flights forcing us to spend a night there, well, we almost cancelled our trip entirely. After some serious thought and research, we decided to carry on with our plans, and sought local knowledge (Alice at World Wide Travel, Utila) to recommend a safe hotel. She suggested the Copantl. The Copantl was really a delight, and here's why. We were strongly urged by locals both in Utila and Roatán to ensure we were being picked... Read more
"My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our 4-day stay with John and Soledad, the most gracious B&B hosts we could ever hope to meet. Even before we began our vacation, John recommended and helped arrange activities for our stay, contacting guides and making reservations. He personally met us at the ferry upon our arrival in La Ceiba, provided transportation as needed during our stay, and took us to the airport when it was time to leave. Completely fluent in English, John was always available to answer our questions or provide translation when we needed it. His wife, Soledad, was extremely... Read more
Lugging a stand-up paddleboard through the jungle to the steepest, most technical river in Honduras might not, at first glance, seem like the brightest idea. The Rio Cangrejal plummets nearly 900 feet over 15 miles, churning over colossal Class V rapids on its way from the rain forest to the Caribbean Sea. If the waterfall-style drops and narrow labyrinths of towering boulders don't get you, the jaguars that prowl Pico Bonito National Forest's riverbanks may well try. Despite the risk (or maybe because of it), intrepid kayakers have been running the Class IV and V rapids in the upper section of... Read more
Dec 04, 2013
On Monday, the General Coordinator of the Libre Party, Manuel Zelaya, met with the magistrates of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), including David Matamoros, to lodge a formal complaint about alleged fraud in the general elections of November 24. Mr. Zelaya and Mr. Matamoros agreed that the TSE, along with designated representatives of Libre, would review and recount more than 16,000 voter ballot talley sheets -- actas. The understanding was that the Libre representatives would arrive at the TSE's offices in Tegucigalpa this morning at 8:00 o'clock to begin the process. At 2:00 pm, TSE technicians were to have corroborated the documents.
After a two decade long hiatus, gang truces are back in vogue in the Americas. Very generally, truces usually include negotiations and pacts intended to bring about an end to violence. They are typically brokered by an eclectic cast of characters -- from government officials and aid workers to faith-based groups and active and ex-gang members. And while truces are generating considerable attention in the global media, the evidence base about what they really accomplish is surprisingly thin. During the 1980s and 1990s, US-based social scientists held a dim view of gang truces. Many believed these kinds of agreements instead legitimized gangs, reinforced the authority of leaders, deepened cohesion among their rank and file, and reproduced -- rather than reduced -- violence. In the 1990s Kodluboy and Evenrud argued that while mediation could... Read more
NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) is limping toward its 20th anniversary with a beat-up image and a bad track record. Recent polls show that the majority of the people in the United States favors “leaving” or “renegotiating” the model trade agreement. While much has been said about its impact on US job loss and eroding labor conditions, some of the most severe impacts of NAFTA have been felt south of the border. NAFTA has cut a path of destruction through Mexico. Since the agreement went into force in 1994, the country’s annual per capita growth flat-lined to an average of just 1.2 percent -- one of the lowest in the hemisphere. Its real wage has declined and unemployment is up.
To say the Americas are not completely overwhelmed with dilemmas of needing to enforce the rule of law and protect citizens, while essentially choosing between military, police or a combination of the two, is perplexing to many democratic nations. In an ironic twist, the complexities of enforcing the law and protecting an entire homeland from threat are overlapping the intricacies of perceived government legitimacy. Police were established for law and order regulation, to control the affairs of communities in order to maintain order, enforce the law, and prevent and detect crime. In contrast, a military was designed to protect a nation by combating and defending against actual or perceived threats, especially its complete borders, with a powerful arsenal of advanced weaponry.
Former Ribesdale High School student Olivia Grimshaw hopes to help make a difference to educational standards in Honduras. She will undertake a 10-week volunteering project to lend her support and help raise awareness. Olivia, 24, who lives in Langho, Lancashire, England is aiming to raise £800 for Progressio, the charity with whom she will be working. Its aim is to create, through agriculture, an industry suitable for international trade which will in turn enable money to be ploughed into education for the country. Olivia explained: “At the moment, the education system in Honduras is in need of major reform. There is no government funding whatsoever allocated to education and girls are not encouraged to attend school at all. Through volunteering for the project, I hope to try to... Read more
Thirty Memorial University students hope to set up a temporary health clinic in a Central American country next summer. Jordan Chapman, a second-year nursing student, is co-president of MUN Global Brigades. In July 2014, the students will fly to Honduras armed with drugs and other medical supplies to help provide treatment to those who otherwise would find it difficult to obtain health care. According to Chapman, a second-year nursing student and co-president of MUN Global Brigades, the group was formed in 2012. The Global Brigades movement initially spread through American colleges and has made its way to Canadian universities in recent years.
People who are thinking of coming to Honduras to help or travel are getting very mixed messages on the Internet. For example, I was looking up the Episcopal Church of Honduras on Google, because there is now an Episcopal Church in Corralito -- a Maya Chorti village -- on the road to the Guatemalan border from Copán Ruinas that has a Chorti traditional health clinic. On the website of the Honduran Episcopal church it says that while Honduras has a reputation as being unsafe, none of the volunteers who have gone to work with the Episcopal church have been hurt. However, because it is Google also what comes up next are the Honduran Spanish newspaper reports that the sister of the Episcopal Bishop, a Black English-speaker of... Read more
Ormat Technologies, Inc. of Reno, Nevada announced today that its indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary, completed the acquisition of the Geotérmica Platanares geothermal project in Honduras from ELCOSA, a privately owned Honduran energy company, upon satisfaction of the required conditions precedent. Ormat will hold the assets under a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) structure for approximately 15 years, including the project’s wells, land, permits and a Power Purchase Agreement for up to 35 megawatt with ENEE, the national utility of Honduras. Platanares is a late-stage development geothermal project where previous owners have conducted exploration work.
The United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide US$21 million to Honduras' Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock to finance its Horizons of the North Project (PHN), which will offer training, technical assistance, equipment, and access to credit for approximately 13,000 poor rural families in the departments of Atlántida, Cortés and Yoro. Another 12,000 families in the three departments will benefit from the PHN through the construction of roads, bridges, other rural infrastructure, and investments in sustainable human development.
The government of Honduras donated Lps 1 million (US$48,780) to a TV-radio fundraising marathon for the public hospital in the town of San Francisco de Juticalpa in the department of Olancho. The event, "Hearts United for Our Hospital", aimed to raise money for improvements in the hospital's infrastructure and purchases of medicines and equipment to better serve the needs of the people of the municipality and in surrounding villages. The money was delivered by Congressman Reinaldo Sánchez of Olancho and the presidential commissioner for the Patuca region, Jorge Lobo. (11/15/13)
Dec 05, 2013
With 81.54 percent of the voter ballot talley sheets counted and reviewed, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSA) on Sunday, December 1, officially declared Juan Orlando Hernández of the National Party the winner of the November 24 presidential election in Honduras. Mr. Hernández will be inaugurated as the next President of Honduras on January 27, 2014 in Tegucigalpa. A total of 3,232,266 out of 5.3 million registered Hondurans voted, with Mr. Hernández winning approximately 37 percent of the votes cast. Mr. Hernández, 45, is... Read more
Nov 27, 2013
After Juan Orlando Hernández is inaugurated as President of Honduras in January, he will face a wide array of issues to address and problems to resolve, including trying to reconcile with supporters of opposition political parties who believe his election was fraudulent; negotiating a new credit deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to ease the country's fiscal crisis; cleansing the National Police of ties to organized crime; fighting crime, violence and drug trafficking; restructuring the judicial system; attracting foreign... Read more
Nov 23, 2013
The presidential election in Honduras on Sunday, November 24, 2013 will feature eight candidates, including (in alphabetical order) Jorge Aguilar of the Innovation and Unity Party (Pinu), Juan Orlando Hernández of the National Party (PN), Salvador Nasralla of the Anti-Corruption Party (PAC), Andrés Pavón of the Democratic Unification-Broad Political Electoral Front in Resistance (UD-Faper), Orle Solís of the Christian Democratic Party (DC), Romeo Vásquez of the Patriotic Alliance Party, Mauricio Villeda of the Liberal Party (PL), and Xiomara Castro de Zelaya of the Liberty and... Read more