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by Stephen Lendman
Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013 at 11:35 AM
Rigged Honduran Elections
by Stephen Lendman
In Honduras they're won the old-fashioned way. They're stolen.
On Sunday, presidential elections were held. Eight candidates participated. Two mattered most. Business as usual prevailed. Reports suggest fraud, intimidation and vote buying.
Activists defied state-sponsored violence. Both sides claimed victory. More on that below.
Adrienne Pine is an American University Professor of Anthropology. She's worked in Honduras. She's written about state-sponsored repression. She focuses on explaining Hondurans' longstanding struggle for justice
She calls ongoing human rights abuses "invisible genocide." Honduras is Latin America's death squad capital. Pine calls it "the most violent country on the planet." Its murder rate dwarfs other nations.
Since the 19th century, America meddled lawlessly in Latin American affairs dozens of times. Doing so involved invasions, bombings, occupation, assassinations, destabilization, coups and rigged elections.
Honduras was one of many victims. In June 2009, Washington helped orchestrate President Manuel Zelaya's ouster.
Doing so was a coordinated State Department/Pentagon project. It was conducted jointly with Honduran military commanders and top opposition political figures. A fascist dictatorship followed.
Sunday's election matched ruling National Party candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez against LIBRE's (Liberty and Refoundation) Xiomara Castro. She's Manuel Zelaya's wife.
Adrienne Pine witnessed events firsthand. Ahead of elections, she said people expressed hope for change. At the same time, a sense of foreboding prevailed.
Rigged elections followed Zelaya's ouster. Coup supporting candidates alone participated. Most people who voted backed them. This time LIBRE participated.
Pine said conditions aren't "free and fair." Institutions and officials responsible for the coup run elections.
"We are talking about the military that carried out the coup (and) Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which was illegally put in place just before the last coup," she said.
"The judiciary ousted all the judges and district attorneys who opposed the coup."
"So there is a very biased system right now, which does not bode well for a free and fair election."
Hernandez wants Honduras kept militarized. He wants soldiers on every street corner. He claims doing so reduces crimes.
Military, police and government officials are complicit in committing them. Criminality is rampant. It's out-of-control.
Authorities target activists, human rights defenders, independent journalists, campesinos protecting their land, and others challenging their rule.
LIBRE is a new party. It was born out of Honduran resistance. Xiomara Castro enjoys widespread popularity.
She "march(ed) alongside the hundreds of thousands of people who were coming out to the streets to demand a return to democracy," said Pine.
Her platform endorses resistance movement principles. She supports a popular constituent assembly to rewrite Honduras' constitution.
She wants it to legitimize participatory democracy. She wants other social reforms instituted. She wants legislation protecting ordinary Honduran rights.
Power is concentrated in wealthy elite hands. Fascist rule dominates. Democracy is a convenient illusion. It's nowhere in sight.
On November 5, Pine headlined "Where Will the Children Play? Neoliberal Militarization in Pre-Election Honduras."
Ahead of Sunday's election, "state-led terror and the criminalization of the Resistance movement have intensified," she said.
Militarized police is a Hernandez initiative. Honduran soldiers have a long history of state-sponsored terror.
Victims are "grassroots" activists. They oppose "national and international corporations exploiting lands, water, and subsoil resources of which their communities claim ownership," said Pine.
Soldiers are linked to "murders of numerous campesino land rights activists in the Aguan."
Since Zelaya's ouster, over 110 were killed. Soldiers and security guards employed by Miguel Facusse and three other large landowners bear full responsibility.
Military and judicial repression and violence support neoliberal harshness. Iron fist governance persists.
So does "random," "street," "gang," and "terrorist" violence, said Pine. It's institutionalized. It criminalizes social activism.
Post-coup, thousands of human rights abuses were documented. They include targeted assassinations, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, and widespread intimidation.
Human rights defenders, social justice activists, and independent journalists are called "terrorists" and "insurgents." They're falsely accused of destabilizing society.
Campesino communities are under siege. Honduras is a classic fascist police state.
Journalism is one of its most dangerous professions. Dozens have been killed for doing their jobs responsibly.
Truth telling marks them for death. Numerous LIBRE candidates were killed ahead of Sunday's election.
Between May 2012 and October 19, 2013d, 18 and their immediate family members were murdered. Another 15 were victimized by armed attacks.
Other activist candidates were assassinated. Death threats are commonplace. LIBRE party members cite an "extermination campaign" to eliminate them. State-sponsored death squads target them.
Ahead of Sunday's election, violence and intimidation intensified dramatically. According to Pine:
"For community organizers, democracy activists, LIBRE candidates, and potential LIBRE voters, the pre-election context in Honduras is one of extreme everyday violence amplified by a campaign of state terror carried out in the service of neoliberal policies and politicians."
Criminalizing, persecuting and terrorizing Hondurans and groups opposed to coup d'etat rule reflect daily life.
Authorities operate with virtual impunity. State-sponsored murder and other high crimes go unpunished.
Washington trains Honduran military officers in charge of death squad terror. It been longstanding at the infamous School of the Americas (SOA).
It's renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC).
The latest ways are taught to kill, main, torture, oppress, exterminate poor and indigenous people, overthrow democratically elected governments, assassinate targeted leaders, suppress popular resistance, and work cooperatively with Washington to solidify fascist rule.
Democracy is verboten. Ruling class elites run Honduras. On November 25, Democracy Now interviewed Pine.
Early Monday, Honduras' Supreme Electoral Tribunal said Hernandez defeated Castro. Claiming it, said Pine, "contrasts with the numbers that are coming out of the polling places themselves."
They "show an overwhelming" Castro lead. So there's "real concern on the streets. There's real concern over the social networks, and we are expecting people will probably" protest publicly. Indeed they did. More on that below.
Sunday was the first chance to end fascist governance, Pine said. Previous post-coup elections were fraudulent. Virtually all coup opponents boycotted them.
Castro is more than Zelaya's wife. She "really has come into her own as a leader, and there has been - it is impossible to overstate the amount of hope and excitement and mobilization that people have been engaging in leading up to these elections," said Pine.
"Yesterday, the feeling on the ground was one of exuberance. You could see that the turnout was higher than ever before in Honduran elections. People were turning out for the LIBRE Party."
Hernandez represents what most Hondurans oppose. Both candidates support "radically different models of governance."
Castro endorses participatory democracy. Hernandez backs hardline fascist rule.
Widespread fraud and intimidation was evident on Sunday. International observers were targeted.
Masked police entered hotels where they were staying. They demanded to see their documents. They "basically intimidated them," said Pine.
Doing so "shows the world" what Hondurans face daily. Open, free and fair elections are a convenient illusion. Rigged ones substitute. State terror reflects daily life.
Based on Pine's information and firsthand observations, Castro won convincingly. Tuesday headlines claimed otherwise.
Hernandez has an "irreversible" lead, they said. He's all but certain to be Honduras' next president. Fascist rule gets four more years.
Rigged elections prevent democracy. The Supreme Electoral Tribunal bears full responsibility.
According to Pine, it's "a product of the 2009 coup." It orchestrated fraud. It cheated millions of long suffering Hondurans.
They deserve better than they got. Fascist police states operate that way. Honduras is the region's worst. Washington offers full support. It doesn't surprise.
A Final Comment
On November 26, AFP headlined "Hundreds of protesters confront cops after 'stolen' Honduran election."
They blocked Tegucigalpa streets. They support LIBRE's Castro.
"We are fed up with these politicians who are thieves," said computer student Jose Luis. "They have stolen the election! We are going to keep this up out here."
Hundreds of students protested with him. Late Sunday, Castro declared a "resounding victory. Today, we can say that we have won," she said.
"Based on exit polls that I have received from around the country, I can tell you: I am the president of Honduras."
Manuel Zelaya expressed strong support. He lashed out against electoral "theft." Xiomara won the presidency," he said. "They are stealing the election from us."
Coup d'etat rule continues. It bears repeating. Washington offers full support.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
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