July 28, 2009

Honduran elections

Honduran presidential candidates Elvin Santos and Pepe Lobo
Photo: El Heraldo, Honduras

Honduran President Roberto Micheletti has assured citizens again and again that the November elections would take place as planned and that the new elected president will take office on January 27, 2010, as required by the constitution. He also makes it clear that international election observers would be welcome, as always. The candidates believe him. Why doesn't the rest of the world?

It seems evident that most people do not know (thanks to OAS blessings in prior elections) that elections have never been clean in Honduras. Zelaya won the election by a very small margin and then a couple of years later admitted in an interview (on YouTube!) that he won by fraud. He who has the most money and/or is the most corrupt generally wins in Honduras. Sad but true. Hopefully that can change and maybe with enough serious observers, change will happen.

The Honduran government, but probably not the candidates, would welcome international involvement in the elections. I would suggest at least two people at every polling place, starting an hour before the polls open and leaving only after the final count is recorded, and then comparing each count with the final tabulated results. I would also suggest some computer experts and accountants be involved. That might help prevent some types of election fraud, but it still won't prevent the people who get cash payments (or tamales!) to vote. Read "How much is your vote worth" which I wrote just before the internal party primary elections last November.

This thinking that the elections will be any less legitimate than they ever have been shows a complete lack of understanding about what happened here. Repeat after me:

This was no power grab by Micheletti or an out of control military!

Unless you are willing to accept that, you will never understand what is happening in Honduras. Roberto Micheletti is no dictator nor was he chosen by the "golpistas" or "elected" by the congress. If Honduras had a vice-president, he or she would now be president. Since there was no vice-president (he resigned to run for president), if Juana Pueblo had been the president of the Congress, she would now be president, in accordance with the constitution. Micheletti has now used his only chance at a 4-year term as president for six months of torturous pressure in a bankrupt, corruption filled swamp, while being demonized, disrespected, and vilified by the whole world. Not exactly a plum job.

He says the elections will be held in November, as required by the constitution, that the candidates elected in the May primaries (already blessed by OAS) will be on the ballots, and that he will turn over the reins to the winner in January, as required by the constitution.

As cynical as I am about politics and corruption in Honduras, I believe him. What is more important than what I think is that majority of the people in Honduras believe him or just don't care one way or another because their government has never done anything for them no matter who was in power.

Despite what the rest of the world thinks, elections are a non-issue here in Honduras in regard to the current crisis. The constitution is being followed.
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