Monday, December 4, 2017

Hondurans protest under curfew (Dec. 4, 2017)

A week after Honduras' presidential election, the country still doesn't have a winner. Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets yesterday demanding a transparent vote count. On Friday clashes between security forces and demonstrators left at least one person dead -- media reports point to potentially eight victims, reports the Guardian. The government responded by declaring a curfew limiting movement between 6 pm and 6 am. Civil liberty groups are preparing the challenge the measure, which was signed by the vice president, and suspends civil liberties for 10 days.

Citizens have resorted to banging pots from balconies, given the limitations on street protests imposed by the curfew. In some areas where residents ventured to their doors to protest, soldiers patrolling responded with tear gas, reports the New York Times. #CacerolazoHonduras was a trending topic yesterday, reports La Prensa. The measure was aimed at reducing violent protests and citizen barricades, but it has also resulted in hundreds and thousands of detentions, according to El País. Businesses, forced to adjust working hours to comply with the 12 hour curfew urged officials to quickly resolve the electoral impasse, reports La Prensa.

Opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla condemned the curfew and said declaring the "curfew 12 hours a day while processing electoral ballots is the equivalent of a coup d'état in Honduras," reports CNN. The Economist compares the political crisis to the 2009 coup that ousted then-President Manuel Zelaya, who now backs the opposition candidate, Salvador Nasralla.

"For human rights observers, the curfew and delay of an official recount are steps to produce an inevitable Hernández victory, regardless of the vote tally," reports the Intercept.

The curfew includes the press, and directs the military to take whatever measures it needs to maintain order, notes Honduran Culture and Politics. The Intercept reports on allegations that security forces are cracking down on peaceful demonstrators and the involvement of U.S. trained troops in repression.

Negotiations between the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) and opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla broke down yesterday. The opposition is questioning nearly 30 percent of the ballots, and is demanding a recount from three rural departments where turnout was about 20 percent higher than the average in the rest of the country, explains the NYT. The opposition is demanding a closer examination of all ballots that entered after the TSE system was suspended due to a "technical glitch" last week, reports La Prensa. When the system went back online Hernández's lead steadily increased.

As of early this Monday morning, incumbent Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH) maintained a slim 1.6 percent lead over Nasralla, with a difference of 53,142 votes, reports La Prensa.

Last week, bowing to international pressure, the TSE agreed to not call a winner until questioned ballots were examined by electoral officials before representatives from both parties and international observers.

Before the election, the Economist reported on recordings of training sessions for National Party members, aimed at distorting election results in favor of JOH using fraudulent strategies. The magazine now published excerpts of the tapes. (See last Monday's post.)

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