Okay, folks, all of you who want to help Honduras. Here is your chance:
Become an election observer!
The Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE) wants you!
This is something that ALL expatriates in Honduras can easily do in your area. Do you love Honduras? Do you want democratic elections in Honduras to prevail? Do you believe that the Honduran people have a right to elect their president regardless of what the international community believes? You can help with this historic event.
But let's not stop there. Do you have a club, a church group, a work group, a Rotary or Lion's club, or blogging group that might be interested in a trip to Honduras? No group is too big or too small. TSE would love to have your help and support to show the world that Honduras' elections are free, fair, and democratic.
We believe that if elections are shown to be free and fair that the international community will have to relent. You can play a historic part in saving Honduras' democracy. Imagine telling your children or grandchildren about the time that the whole world was against this little country and you helped to prove them wrong! Imagine what a blogging experience this would be! Honduras is a little country that has stood up to the world without blinking, standing firm for what they believe is right. I'm getting emotional here, but sorry, that is how I feel.
Elections are right around the corner − Sunday, November 29. The TSE has accredited various civic groups, such as the Alliance for Peace and Democracy (APD) who contacted me, to provide invitations and training to potential observers. You will need to be here in Honduras from Thursday, November 26 through Monday, November 30. Arriving Friday, November 27, might work if you could arrive early in the day.
International requirements for election observers
You will be instructed in what you can and can not do − mostly common sense things. For example, you will be allowed to talk to or ask questions of anyone, go in and out of the polling place, but obviously will not be allowed to promote a candidate or party. The training sessions will probably be held mostly in the larger cities where the observers will arrive, Tegucigalpa, San Pedro, and La Ceiba.
The TSE may suggest certain polling places to try to cover the largest number of locations, but to maintain your independence, you will be allowed to visit any polling place that you select. Obviously, if all of the observers wanted to be stationed at the beach on Roatán, that wouldn't help too much, so the TSE may ask if you are willing to cover some of the smaller towns. Observers will probably be in pairs and will be moved during the day to observe different polling places.
How to apply
In this GoogleDocs folder, (click the link) you will find:
1) An information letter from APD
2) Clearance Form for International Observers
3) Regulations for International Observers (English)
4) Regulations for International Observers (Spanish)
Read the information letter. Read the regulations. Download the Clearance Form. Using your word processing program, fill in the information on the form and save it on your computer. Send an email to AlianzaPazHonduras@gmail.com with your name and email address, any questions you might have, and attach the Clearance Form to your email. If you will be part of group, the group can send all of the Clearance Forms in one email, but be sure to include the email addresses for all.
Once your application is approved, APD will confirm your invitation and forward your information to the TSE. And then finally, you will received a formal invitation to be an election observer from the TSE (TSE website). Print the invitation and bring it with you.
If you are coming with a group, please include complete information about your group and its leader and the number of people who will be coming, even if you haven't confirmed the names. It's very important logistically that the TSE know the number of people.
The TSE has a very small budget for election observers, since they have lost election support from the UN. Depending on the total number of volunteers, it is possible that you may be reimbursed for food and lodging during your time here, but I would ask you not to count on that.
Alliance volunteers will pick you up at the airport and take you to your hotel. They have made arrangements with several hotels for special very low rates for election observers. Some volunteers are even offering guest rooms in their homes. In at least some locations, there will be small dinner parties for the observers. They will, of course, transport you to the training session and throughout election day, as well as provide transportation back to the airport. They want you to be comfortable and feel at home.
TSE is logically trying to reserve as much as possible of the budget to attract former heads of state, politicians, church or business leaders, and other influential people whose presence and subsequent reports will be more meaningful to the international community.
What we may lack in influence, I hope we can make up for in numbers. But if you feel that you fall into that 'influential' group who may be able to publicize your experience, be sure to tell the Alianza group in your email and they will see what they can do for you.
Now, this is especially for you Honduran residents and citizens: the APD is also asking for volunteers to be with the observers during their free time to show them around, go out to dinner with them, etc., so they aren't just stuck in a hotel room for days. This is a great opportunity to show off Honduras and possibly some of those same people may want to come back again to vacation some time.
I realize this is extremely short notice for an international trip, but if you can manage it, we'll be very grateful. If you live in Honduras − no excuses!