I recently had a big chat with my host sister about the political situation in Honduras – it’s bad. Corruption is shockingly rife and there seems to be no signs of it being improved. The next presidential elections are coming up in November (I will still be here then so slightly nervous…) and the country is covered in posters of the different candidates – although Juan Orlando seems to have an overwhelming majority of the posters. So I thought I would do a post about the elections as it is going to be a huge event in Honduras, and anything could happen, and also as I will be here to see it, it will be important part of my experience here.
So as many of you reading probably won’t know but Honduras had a coup d’état in 2009 – this basically means that the military (controlled by the Congress, not the ruling political party) stormed into the then President’s house in the middle of the night and put him on a plane to Costa Rica. The congress (and it seems like most of the President’s party) weren’t happy with Zelaya (the President at the time) refusing to cancel a referendum about presidential term limits – he was trying to gain more time in charge of the country. Zelaya was also trying to move Honduras more towards the left, with the help of Hugo Chavez, and this worried a large proportion of Hondurans. The Congress deemed Zelaya’s referendum illegal but Zelaya pressed on with it – so instead of resolving the issue with a more legal solution, they exiled him from the country. This led to political instability for months and Honduras becoming politically isolated until a new President was elected.
So what is the situation now? The current President – Porfirio Lobo – has been in power since 2009, however his term has been surrounded in accusations of corruption and violence committed by the state (through corrupt police mostly). There were previously just two main parties in the election but there are now three – and get this, the new third party is headed by the wife of the previous President, Zelaya. As Honduran presidents are only allowed to rule for one term, Zelaya cannot go for Presidency again so basically he wife is running but it will actually be him running the country – their party, newly formed after the coup, is called the Liberty and Refoundation Party, or Libre for short. The currently ruling party, the National Party, has elected Juan Orlando Hernandez as their next leader and the other party, the Liberal Party, will be headed by Mauricio Villeda. The thing with elections in Honduras is you are not choosing between which of them has the best policies – you are choosing which one you think is least corrupt and who will steal money but might still give something good back to the country. Because they are all corrupt – everyone knows it and it is just the way it is. Can you imagine voting for a Prime Minister and KNOWING he (or she) is going to steal your taxes? When my host sister was telling me this, I just couldn’t get my head around it – the fact that every person in Honduras knows that all their candidates for presidency are corrupt but they have no control to change this. Instead they just have to choose the person they think will actually help the country move forward, while they are stealing – but there is a lot of argument over this. Even within my family, my host mum supports a different party to the rest of my family. I asked my host sister who she thought would win and she said no one knows; it could be anyone. I also can’t tell you the amount of times I have seen Juan Orlando’s face plastered on walls and billboards around Honduras – apparently all paid for with stolen money.
So it will be interesting to see what will happen in November and what the reaction will be – it will most likely be quite a dangerous time (well, more dangerous than usual) – ICYE even thought about not accepting volunteers for the summer in case. But they have so it can’t be that bad, right?! Although it could be a more unstable time, I am excited to be here for such an important time for Honduras – although I don’t think the situation here will get much better soon, a step in the right direction can only help. I just have no idea where that step needs to go.
While me and my host sister were talking about all this she got a phone call from her friend – her cousin had been killed the day before. He was a taxi driver and they don’t know if he had been involved with anything bad but it is widely known that maras (drug gangs) initiate new members by telling them they have to murder someone to prove their dedication so he may have just been wrong time, wrong place. It is just so crazy here that you can be sat at home and then have a friend call you up and tell you a member of their family has been murdered – and that be a relatively normal thing to happen. Let’s hope that one day Honduras can find a way to change…
Also, one of my very good friends from my year at the University of Leicester emailed me today to say…
So, I’ve been reading your blog and I have to say this to you, I’m so impressed. I think your parents should be really proud of what they’ve produced, seriously. Your compassion, empathy and love is just amazing and I know you’re cringing now but just had to tell you.
I absolutely love this girl – she has no idea how much I admire her. She has had so much happen in her life already which could have knocked her down but she is one of the strongest people I know and she always talks so much sense and has an amazing outlook on the world! Love you beautiful!!!
Thank you again everyone who has read my blog so far – I know I have been useless lately, I will post about my adventures in La Ceiba and Utila soon!