Sin Presidente: Honduran Corrupt President Receives Military Aid from Trump

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Honduran elections on November 26 went awry when the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) did not report the winner of the elections, and in fact has not done so to this day. Although ten parties competed for the coveted position of president in one of the most violent countries in the world, the race came down to Salvador Nasralla of the Party Against the Dictatorship and Juan Orlando Hernandez of the Nationalist Party, who was illegally nominated by his party for a second term in violation of the constitution. At 1:40am on Monday November 27th, the TSE reported partial results in favor of Nasralla’s party but refused to declare a winner. Since then they have been withholding results from the people. People took to the streets to protest the failure to announce a winner and defied the 6am to 6pm curfew and military orders to shoot to kill. While the TSE’s incompetence has delayed election results, protests have wracked the country, resulting in 20 dead, 51 injures and 844 arrests. The current president refuses to concede the election. Just two days after the elections the US State Department under Trump granted Honduras military aid. The Trump administration supports corrupt leaders in Honduras while at the same time deporting Hondurans and threatening Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the US. The doublespeak, a trademark of the Trump administration so far, is incongruent in people lives, and does not make sense for the region. It is homicidal.

US Foreign policy has been incongruent with domestic immigration policy and it is generating havoc in communities across the western hemisphere. On the one hand the State Department claims the Honduras government is respecting human rights while on the other hand they issue a warning for US Citizens to not travel to Honduras—leaving us confused? If Honduras is doing so well on Human Rights violations and crime control, so much so that our tax dollars have been sent to the repessive military regime, why is not safe for us U.S. Citizens to travel there?

Curiously in 2014, as violence reached catastrophic levels in Honduras, 90,000 children arrived at the US-Mexico border, the majority from Honduras, fleeing violence, corruption and the lack of opportunities for an education. The unaccompanied children, LGBTTI immigrants, and women and children, many still in detention, face deportation and uncertainty before conservative US immigration courts. US Foreign policy of aid to corrupt and military regimes is generating so much chaos and uncertainty that the countries are ungovernable leaving the most vulnerable sectors open for violence and chaos. Hondurans in large numbers migrate to seek safety.

Under Juan Orlando Hernandez’ presidency Honduras has seen a rise in violence that has reached unprecedented numbers, 90 homicides per 100,000 people in the years after his election in 2013, a then contested win tinged with fraud and corruption. The ‘improvements’ in violence lauded by the US State Department, are really not improvements at all. Researchers are aware the reporting mechanism was changed in 2013, when Hernandez’ took office, and it is widely believed that his government doctors the numbers released by National Police. The Observatory of Violence at the UNAH director noted that the reporting of cases of violence has changed; instead of receiving reports from each police precinct throughout the nation, they now get one report from the National Police office in the capital. There is now a lot more room for error and for misreporting and manipulation. Aside from the Observatory of Violence at the UNAH, no other reputable center tracks violence statistics, and the government’s own center often refers to the University center to corroborate results. The rush by the US to extol Honduras’ human rights record, in the midst of a corrupt election fiasco is at best misguided and at worst complicit in propping up an illegitimate government.

Meanwhile, clear stats show exorbitant murders of Honduran activists and human rights defenders, since the coup d’état, targeting of activists and organizers. One such murder, that of Berta Caceres, is still unresolved despite receiving international attention. In fact, according to a Global Witness report, Honduras is the most dangerous place for people who protect the environment, and the government demonstrates blatant contempt environmental protection, as shown by over 300 concessions Juan Orlando Hernandez has granted foreign banks and the elite in Honduras.

Riddled with corruption, the Juan Orlando Hernandez administration has violated the Honduran constitution, the supreme court, voting law, and the election proceedings themselves in an spectacular show of incompetence at all levels. Worse, Hernandez’ own brother is accused of colluding with narcotraffickers and a series of scandals. It is no surprise the Trump administration, one most Americans do not trust nor believe in, is supporting corruption and the narco-traficking haven in Honduras with millions of American taxpayer dollars. Their actions will generate another immigration crisis and more mass deportations by Trump.

Suyapa Portillo