Huge Protests in Honduras as Contested Vote Crisis Escalates

Huge Protests in Honduras as Contested Vote Crisis Escalates


As violence and looting overtook peaceful opposition protests at the end of last week, the government responded with a crackdown, declaring a 10-day curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., and sending soldiers into the residential streets to enforce it.

Trapped in their homes, Hondurans protested Saturday by banging pots and pans from the balconies. Over the silence of an evening without traffic, the clanging of metal, the tooting of horns and the popping of firecrackers reverberated across the city.

In some areas where people ventured to their doors to bang pots, they were met with tear gas.

Negotiations between the electoral commission and the alliance supporting Mr. Nasralla broke down Sunday. The opposition said that the electoral board had refused to meet all of its demands to make the count more transparent.

“Nobody has any confidence” in the electoral commission, said Tirza Flores Lanza, a human rights lawyer and former judge in San Pedro Sula. “It has no legitimacy. How can they be counting under a curfew?”

Photo

Mr. Nasralla greeted supporters during a protest in Tegucigalpa on Sunday.

Credit
Henry Romero/Reuters

Mr. Hernández promised to respect the result of the final count. “Let’s wait for the final count, according to due process under Honduran law,” he wrote on Twitter.

The opposition is questioning ballots from an additional 5,200 polling places, almost 30 percent of the total, and has asked for a recount from three rural departments where turnout was about 20 percent higher than the average in the rest of the country.

The monitoring group from the Organization of American States said Sunday that the complaints over those 5,200 polling places should be considered.

The electoral commission “should find a way to be transparent and make sure that the O.A.S. and the E.U. have as much access as possible,” said Juan Gonzalez, a former United States State Department official who advised Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Central America. The final result should have “international validation,” he said.

Some Hondurans argue that the only route out of the crisis is for the commission to do a recount at every polling place with international supervision and with the participation of all the political parties.

“That is the only thing that will give a minimum of credibility to the results,” said the Rev. Ismael Moreno, a prominent Jesuit priest and human rights activist. “If not,” he said, there could be a “convulsion that nobody will be able to control.”

As the crackdown by security forces has escalated, Hondurans have been sharing videos of people hit by gunfire as they protested and of security forces beating people under arrest. On WhatsApp, they watched Kimberly Fonseca, a 19-year-old student from a poor neighborhood of Tegucigalpa, as she lay dying after the military police shot at protesters on Friday night.

“With social networks, it’s really easy to know what’s going on,” said Gabriel Zúniga Véliz, 27, a student who went to the march in Tegucigalpa. “There’s still the hope that this can be turned around. We need to show how many of us there really are.”

Mr. Veliz said that he was not very involved in politics, but that he had been moved by corruption in the government to vote for Mr. Nasralla.

“The government has been corrupt,” he said. “This has been our reality for centuries.” But if politicians keep stealing, he added, “it gets past people’s breaking point.”



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