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Archive for the ‘Honduras’ Category

A land of light and shadow

Posted by Charles II on February 12, 2014

A picture of sunset in Honduras by Brother John

by John Donaghy

A picture of a virtually empty stadium at the inauguration of Juan Orlando Hernández reproduced by Adrienne (photographer not listed)

via Adrienne Pine

And a photo of massive protest, by Adrienne:

by Adrienne Pine

The caption says in part:

In the face of
1) a military coup June 28, 2009
2) fraudulent elections November 27, 2009
3) fraudulent elections November 24, 2013
MADE IN THE U.S.A.
…..
We propose to stay in resistance until the constitutional order, justice, equality, and respect for my country are re-esetablished.

HONDURAS. WE DO NOT FORGET. WE DO NOT FORGIVE.

Posted in Honduras | 1 Comment »

Honduras election, day 3

Posted by Charles II on November 26, 2013

In a discussion with RAJ at Honduras Culture and Politics, I think we have agreed that the results out of Cortes may not be anomalous. Nasralla reportedly did very well there, capturing 6/20 delegates according to La Prensa. The incomplete vote totals, while I haven’t verified them in detail, look at a glance to be consistent. His slate was doing very well, and the count was much more complete than the presidential. RAJ based her statement that the results were odd based on historical data and knowledge of the reason. But of course one can’t be omniscient, and the electorate was volatile, since the two-party monopoly has been broken.

Adrienne has given an interview in which she talks about the alleged vote discrepancies:

BP: So the results we got in were that there are two candidates who are claiming victory. We have Juan Orlando Hernandez who is the more conservative candidate, and leftist Xiomara Castro (wife of former President Manuel Zelaya ousted in 2009), who is also claiming victory. What is going on?

Adrienne: Well, obviously there’s a strong difference of interpretation of the votes, and it has to do with the difference in how those votes are being counted. There’s a transparency requirement of Honduran voting that at the polling places themselves, the public is allowed to be present, and therefore ensure that the counting is done in a fair and free manner by the polling workers at the tables. And those poll numbers are reported publically. And those poll numbers have been coming out right after the election closed last night, for several hours, just being read off one after the other on a couple radio stations and television stations. And almost all of them were overwhelmingly, not just a little bit, but overwhelmingly in favor of the candidate Xiomara Castro of the Libre Party. However, after that vote count gets done, then the new system in Honduras for these elections is that the results get entered into a scanner and get sent to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (SET). And then the SET compiles those results, and those are the statistics that it gives. The SET’s numbers are the numbers that the candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez of the National Party is basing his claim for victory upon.

Those numbers tell a very different story from the numbers coming out from what they call the “boca de urna,” which is like the “mouth of the ballot box.” They say, in fact, that Juan Orlando Hernandez is winning by several points. And when the first numbers came out with about 20 percent of the vote reported claiming that Juan Orlando Hernandez was in the lead, people who supported Libre claimed that what they were doing was cherry picking, and picking only the areas that really supported the National Party. But when they have now, I think over 50% of the vote counted and he still has a significant lead. That contrasts completely with the numbers coming from the polls, as well as the exit polls, which give a broader idea of what the accurate numbers should look like. That’s the basis for the two different interpretations of the results. And then of course there’s also what we saw on the ground ….

We have yet to hear from the election observers, which is troubling. Their reports should settle whether there was monkey business at the polls. The TSE, i.e., the Electoral Court, hasn’t reported more votes in a long time. That is adding to suspicions.

Tracy Wilkinson of the LAT has the following cynical comment:

Several international election-monitoring organizations thought the vote count giving victory to Hernandez’s National Party was probably accurate. That’s in part because any fraud probably took place months ago, when Hernandez supporters could use the state machinery to offer jobs and discount cards in exchange for votes. Meanwhile, numerous irregularities and complaints of intimidation were reported on election day, Sunday.

But, as I mentioned to Brother John, vote buying doesn’t work unless there’s a way to verify that people have voted as they have agreed to vote. In Mexico, the PRI sent small children into the voting booths to monitor votes, so it was easy to demonstrate a connection between vote buying and results. But I have not heard reports of this in Honduras. According to RAJ, there are separate ballots for presidential candidates and diputados, which adds another layer of complexity. If you buy votes for a presidential candidate, and the presidential results don’t correspond to offices lower on the ballot, there’s a suggestion of some kind of fraud. A detailed analysis is needed and, alas, I am not going to do it. I hope someone will.

Posted in Honduras | Comments Off

Another sham election in Honduras?

Posted by Charles II on November 25, 2013

Solid news out of the Honduran election is hard to come by. What is clear is that not many people are going to agree on the result. The National Party has claimed victory, based on a count of half the ballots, closed down last night. Although the level of intimidation, bribery, and outright manipulation appeared to be less than in the previous election, independent reports are troubling. For example, from Honduras Culture and Politics:

Looking over those numbers, albeit preliminary, we are struck by the report for Cortés– the Departamento in which is located San Pedro Sula, second-largest city and industrial capital of the country.

These show Salvador Nasralla of the Partido Anti-Corrupción leading with 35.1% of the vote.

LIBRE is in second place, with 23.46% of the votes.

The Partido Nacional is in the third place with 22.15%.

The Liberal Party is down at 18.8%

That strikes us as very, very odd. There was at least one report from an electoral mesa yesterday that said LIBRE votes were being reported as PAC votes. But that would take a lot of votes to be shifted: PAC is said to have 122,362 votes to LIBRE’s 81,796.

From Hermano Juancito:

A US friend of mine who was an international observer in Tegucigalpa maintains that Juan Orlando Hernández [of the Nationalists] was losing in almost every one of the voting places where she and about 180 others were observers. I am especially curious about where his support comes from.

Berta Caceres, a human rights observer, denounces the election.

Radio Globo just reported that the Public Ministry was seized by troops and all personnel were removed. A report that there was a bomb scare has been debunked, and there was belief that they were going to file a judicial action.

DemocracyNow reports.

I am unable to bring up the website of the Tribunal Supremo Electoral. It shows that less than half of the ballots have been counted and only 75,000 ballots separate the first and second place candidates.

Honduras-elections-9-AM-Mon

Links

Honduras Solidarity Network Twitter account
Hermano Juancito
The Supreme Electoral Court
The Americas Blog liveblog

______________
Update: There are serious irregularities. Tiempo is editorializing, The Darkness is Deep, an excessively vague editorial whose basic point is that Honduras is lost. It does, however, mention that there have been irregularities, which emerged early in the vote count.

AP has a weird news article that says, “the electoral count [is] coming to a halt without final results or explanation.” Election observers, at least the ones the AP is listening to, are making no comment. The candidates are remaining silent (this statement is objectively untrue). Four hundred thousand votes are disputed in a contest that has the Nationalist ahead by 100K. Although the final polls showed the Nationalist even with Libre’s Xiomara Castro, the AP thinks that the Nationalist’s call for an even more oppressive military presence won the day. The problem with that is that the Nationalist was getting his surge from the collapse of ant-corruption candidate Nasralla. But Nasralla greatly outperformed the polls, while Xiomara Castro underperformed. So, a plausible scenario is that votes were switched from Castro to Nasralla. This is, I suspect, what RNS of Honduras Culture and Politics meant in the quote given above. The deputies of his party do seem to have outpolled those of Libre, with the Nationals not far behind. Right wing La Prensa is calling it 6:5:5:3:1 for Nasralla’a PAC, Libre and the Nationals, and the two minor parties. So, it’s not blatantly inconsistent.

Posted in Honduras | 1 Comment »

Lucha Libre: The Nationalists vs. Libre smackdown today (Sunday)

Posted by Charles II on November 24, 2013

Via Quotha, Jesse Freeston of The Real News reports on the Honduran election.

Things do not look good for democracy.

Posted in Honduras | Comments Off

Senate Dems’ letter on Honduras

Posted by Charles II on June 23, 2013

Via Adrienne:

We are writing to express our concern regarding the grave human rights situation and deterioration of the rule of law in Honduras. As the November 2013 elections draw near, we are particularly troubled by reports of corruption and extrajudicial killings.

Since June of 2009, international and Honduran human rights organizations have documented a pattern of violence and threats against journalists, human rights defenders, members of the clergy, union leaders, opposition figures, students, small farmers, and LGBT activists. There are also recent reports of death squads working with police….

…the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012 requires the State Department to investigate and report on whether the Honduran government “is implementing policies to protect freedom of expression and association, and due process of law,” whether it is “prosecuting military and police personnel who are credibly alleged to have violated human rights,” and whether the Honduran police and military “are cooperating with civilian judicial authorities in such cases” – prior to obligation of 20% of the funds designated for the Honduran military and police, with exceptions for the promotion of transparency, anti-corruption efforts, and the rule of law. Given the reported violence and impunity linked to state entities in Honduras, we have serious questions regarding the State Department’s certification that these conditions were met for Fiscal Year 2012.

As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee you firmly denounced human rights abuses in Honduras. As Secretary of State, we hope you will continue to do the same.

signed by Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Pat Leahy (D-VT), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Mark Udall (D-CO), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Michael F. Bennet (D-CO), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

Posted in Honduras, impunity, State Department | 2 Comments »

Here is the America of the future

Posted by Charles II on April 22, 2013

Via Adrienne, Belén Fernández has an essay in Jacobin on what it is like to live under constant threat, as in Honduras:

The most harrowing event took place one night when I awoke to discover that a man had gotten into my second-story pension room after cutting away the screen and removing the glass window slats. My strategic response was to scream maniacally, run into the hall in my underwear, and abstain from sleep for another two years.

By pinning the blame for Honduras’ violence on gangs, leaders have obscured the state’s role in creating a climate where extrajudicial police execution of tattooed people and other alleged potential gang members is relatively common. Also obscured is the state’s role in overseeing the socioeconomic deprivation that boosts gang membership.

A decade after Jahangir’s report mentioning the allegedly detrimental impact on investment and tourism of the ugly surplus of street children in Honduras, the coup has paved the way for the establishment of aseptic neoliberal enclaves called “special development regions” or charter cities. These city-states will be severed from Honduran territory without the consultation of the nation’s citizens and will be unaccountable to Honduran law, governed instead by foreign corporate interests.

See also Todd Gordon and Jeffrey R. Webber:

“We are rotten to the core,” former [Honduran] congressperson and police commissioner Gustavo Alfredo Landaverde told the Miami Herald just weeks before being silenced by motorbike assassins at a traffic light in Tegucigalpa on 7 December 2011. According to Landaverde’s conservative estimate, one out of every ten members of the Honduran Congress is tied to drug cartels. The Honduran national police force is linked to death squads and traffickers, and judges and prosecutors are likewise implicated in complex and overlapping networks of power. According to Franck, “drug trafficking is now embedded in the state itself, from the cop in the neighborhood all the way up to the very top of the government.”

The democratic delusion on offer here has been a staple of US-Honduran relations since the late nineteenth century. If Lobo is the latest emblem of that delusion in practice — having apparently re-established law and order after the unseemly interruption of Micheletti — he also exposes its ruthless center: elections as theater, direct rule by capital, and unmediated violence in civil society. We have seen much of this before, and we’ll see it again.

The US is headed this direction.

Posted in corruption, Honduras | 2 Comments »

Update on Honduras, 4/12/13

Posted by Charles II on April 12, 2013

Adrienne Pine is on fire (metaphorically-speaking, of course), posting half a dozen links to substantive articles or her own analysis about Honduras in the last two days.

Jeremy Kryt (via Quotha):

Rights Action director Russell is not impressed by this largesse.

“It is controversial, to put it mildly, that the World Bank claims they sold land to the government that many campesino communities are claiming is their land to begin with. Furthermore, it is irrelevant with respect to the allegations that the Bank’s partner, Grupo Dinant [owned by Miguel Facusse], is linked directly and indirectly in the killings of some 90 campesinos in the region.”

Russell said he believes the World Bank has a responsibility to thoroughly investigate potentially shady clients, especially in a place like Honduras, which, with its per-capita murder rate of 91 per 100,000 is one of the most violent places on Earth.

“The World Bank should have a very clear understanding of how Honduras has become the ‘murder capital of the world’ and the ‘repression capital of the Americas’….

“The World Bank [remains] indirectly if not directly complicit with the extraordinarily high levels of repression and killings in the Aguan region,” Russell said.

Greg McCain expands on how Grupo Dinant hires paramilitary groups, amounting to death squads, to inflict terror on Aguan–and then the oligarch-owned national press tells Hondurans that the paramilitaries are being run by the Nicaraguans as a hostile act against Honduras. It’s purely amazing that all the casualties of these death squads are farmers who oppose Grupo Dinant (via Quotha)

Pine:

There are several US military installations in the Moskitia as part of the militarization of the region justified by the so-called “War on Drugs,” which has been more of a war on the local population in terms of the victims it claims. Miskito people … have organized boldly…. But their organization has not yet been sufficient to stop the Honduran Congress, with the support of the US military controlling the region, from giving away the Miskito peoples’ subsoil (and therefore topsoil) rights to the British BG Group [for oil drilling].

Pine:

[Left-wing political party] LIBRE can’t be blamed for disowning Chepe [Handal] now, just as they can’t really be blamed for not disowning him earlier. It’s not like he became a narco two days ago when the Treasury Department announced it. Honduran electoral politics (all the parties) is just so full of narcos, and they’re so powerful, that it would have been politically complicated for LIBRE to reject him as a supporter, or even candidate (supposing they wanted to). What were party leaders going to say? “You’re a narco, so we won’t let you in”? Slander. Risky. Not just losing money risky, but party leaders getting killed risky. You don’t turn down a socio of Chapo Guzmán in Central America. Come. On. But once the U.S. picks sides by attacking a LIBRE-identified narco (but not a Liberal or Nacional, of which there are boatloads), LIBRE does indeed have to take the moral high ground.

There’s more at Quotha, but that gives a flavor for the important news on Honduras being aggregated and produced at that site.

Posted in Honduras | 2 Comments »

Death squads in Honduras run by the police, funded by US/updated

Posted by Charles II on March 29, 2013

Adrienne links a video report from Al Jazeera on the Honduran death squads. The case that Bonilla is running these kidnappings/murders is circumstantial, but that’s not exactly surprising. Most of the witnesses are dead.

Meanwhile, as we have posted, the State Department continues to dissemble and distract. As Adrienne notes, the State Department is describing its handling of the allegations against Bonilla as “internal deliberations.” Under the Leahy Law, funding death squads is illegal. My suggestion: arrest the State Department. Most Latin American countries would be very grateful.

El Heraldo (amazingly) posted video from November of the operation of one of the death squads (via Mark Weisbrot, The Guardian).

Weisbrot’s description:

The video (warning: contains graphic images of lethal violence), caught randomly on a warehouse security camera, is chilling.

Five young men walk down a quiet street in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. A big black SUV pulls up, followed by a second vehicle. Two masked men with bullet-proof vests jump out of the lead car, with AK-47s raised. The two youths closest to the vehicles see that they have no chance of running, so they freeze and put their hands in the air. The other three break into a sprint, with bullets chasing after them from the assassins’ guns. Miraculously, they escape, with one injured – but the two who surrendered are forced to lie face down on the ground. The two students, who were brothers 18- and 20-years-old, are murdered with a burst of bullets, in full view of the camera. Less than 40 seconds after their arrival, the assassins are driving away, never to be found.

Wonder if Juan Carlos Bonilla, the Honduran police chief, was among the killers.

Bertha Oliva of COFADEH also states her view of the return of the death squads here (via Adrienne). Excerpt:

The death squads of the past were never really dismantled. What we’re witnessing is a reactivation of these death squads. And we’re seeing it quite clearly. We’ve seen videos of incidents in the street where masked men with military training and unmarked vehicles assassinate young people. There is the recent case of the journalist Julio Ernesto Alvarado who gave up his news program from 10pm to midnight on Radio Globo because members of a death squad came to kill him, and to save his own life he had to stop doing his program.

Posted in Honduras, impunity | 5 Comments »

More Honduran follies

Posted by Charles II on March 27, 2013

The issue is how much money the US is giving to Juan Carlos Bonilla, head of the Honduran police, who is accused of running death squads.

Basically, the State Department spokesman refuses to answer a simple question (how much money does the US give to Honduras for security), provides data that are completely unhelpful ($500 million to Central America over 5 years, with half going to countries including Honduras), and refuses to provide any information on when the last review was done that concluded that US money was not flowing to entities that Bonilla controls [added: they also have a figure of zero for security aid to Honduras on their website].

To read the actual bafflegab, click below.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Honduras, State Department | 7 Comments »

Folies State Department, 3/25/13

Posted by Charles II on March 25, 2013

For full context on this story, see Dan Beeton at Upside Down World. But for now, simply marvel at the State Department’s response to a question about Juan Carlos “El Tigre” Bonilla, a fugitive in 2003, now Honduras’s head of the National Police.

Yikes.

Patrick Ventrell
Acting Deputy Spokesperson [State Department]
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
March 25, 2013

QUESTION: Okay. And I have a question about Honduras, if I may.

MR. VENTRELL: Okay.

QUESTION: If you were about to close the book, I’ll stop you right there.

MR. VENTRELL: Okay.

QUESTION: We had a story about the U.S. support for Honduran police –

MR. VENTRELL: Yeah.

QUESTION: — which you’d long said had nothing to do with the police chief Bonilla, and we’re saying that every single one of the units you claim was vetted reports directly to Bonilla. How do you square that with what you told Congress and what you’ve said publicly about this?

MR. VENTRELL: Just to say, first of all, Brad, that we remain concerned about high levels of impunity and corruption in Honduras, and we’re working in partnership with the Honduran Government and civil society to address these challenges, advance citizen security, build capacity within the rule of law and judicial institutions, and protect the human rights of all Hondurans.

I can tell you right now that there is a review process undergoing. It’s standard practice for the U.S. Government to form working groups and review and evaluate institutions that receive U.S. assistance. So we review all relevant information that may affect assistance the United States can provide to Honduras, including under the provisions of the Leahy Law. So I can’t comment on the internal deliberations, but we remain in close communication with the U.S. Congress, in compliance with the legal requirements of the Leahy Law.

QUESTION: How did you vet these people if – I mean, they are police units under the police chief, and you say they have no – nothing to do with the police chief.

MR. VENTRELL: I mean, again, I can’t get into the actual vetting procedures other than to say we absolutely comply with congressional mandates and congressional requirements.

QUESTION: Are you urging the Honduran Government to relieve Mr. Bonilla of his duties, since you’ve essentially raised the allegations of extrajudicial killings and various human rights violations by him and his alleged death squads?

MR. VENTRELL: I’m not aware that we’ve taken a position before this review is finished, so I think we’re going to conduct a thorough review and then take a look and be back in communication not only with Honduras but with the U.S. Congress.

QUESTION: You specifically said that you’re withholding money from anything that he touches.

MR. VENTRELL: Right, but –

QUESTION: So I would wonder why you would not urge that he then be removed if he’s an obstacle of your cooperation.

MR. VENTRELL: We’ve got to get to the bottom of this through our review before we make any decisions.

QUESTION: Do you know how much – I can’t seem to find anywhere that says how much money you guys are actually providing the Honduran security sector. According to, I think, like, the State Department/USAID website it was zero, which can’t be correct since –

MR. VENTRELL: Yeah, we have large security cooperation with a number of Central American partners.

QUESTION: Could you get back to me with how much you provide?

MR. VENTRELL: I will endeavor this afternoon to get you –

QUESTION: I imagine it’s more than zero.

MR. VENTRELL: I will endeavor to get you an expert this afternoon.

QUESTION: Thank you.

Your tax dollars at work.

Posted in corruption, Honduras, State Department | 2 Comments »

 
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