Honduran Elections: No Guarantee of "Cleanliness": Electoral Advisor

electoral councilor Honduras
Photo: Manuel Ortiz

By Pamela Cruz. Peninsula 360 Press [P360P].
Tegucigalpa, Honduras. - In the political context of Honduras, especially 12 years after the coup d'état, the conditions in the country are quite complex, therefore, the guarantee that clean elections will be held on November 28 can only be assured in the "formal" aspect.

This was pointed out by Roxi Moncada, the proprietary counselor of the National Electoral Council of Honduras, a body that has only been formed a little more than two years ago, and whose main function is to organize, administer and guarantee that elections can be held on election day, which, in the words of the official herself, will mark the destiny of the country for the next decade.

In an exclusive interview with P360P, the official pointed out that, during the last two years, the councilors of the "autonomous" body, have worked "with hundreds of obstacles" to have an electoral process different from those of 2013 or 2017, the latter, especially branded as fraudulent after, after a "blackout", Juan Orlando Hernandez was reelected as president. 

Moncada detailed that the fact that this Sunday's elections will be carried out in a neat manner and with the full will of the people will only be seen on election day.

"We are all obliged to do so, the members of the receiving board are public officials and assume a responsibility towards the State of Honduras. But this is a collapsed State after the Coup d'Etat, which has formal authorities, constitutional institutions, buildings, appointed officials, but it is a State without justice and where the rights formally guaranteed in practice are a real tragedy", he stressed.

Neither forgiving nor forgetting

And the fact is that, he said, there are obstacles inherent to the "electoral" exercise, in a country where more than a decade ago there was a violent coup d'état, but where finally an "authority" was established, thus, between quotation marks.

More than 10 years after that coup, impunity and the exercise of authority continues, despite the fact that at the popular level the people have resisted all that time. 

And the changes that have taken place "have been the result of the pressure of the people who continue to resist, the result of the pressure of international organizations, the result of the pressure of democratic entities that had no choice but to condemn the crime and that have pressured after the elections of 2013 and 2017 to advance the democratic process," the official stressed.

He added that the only possibility for the State to rebuild itself from its democratic base are the elections, the electoral institutions, the electoral power, "and in the face of this pressure, then, this electoral power is rebuilt and in the form. It is rebuilt with a new scheme of political integration".

The obstacles to the electoral exercise have ranged, he said, from the control of the budget to the "economic bleeding" of the institutions that guarantee the exercise of democracy.

Thus, there are historical facts and milestones that cannot be detached from the current situation, "because they have been marking it throughout the 12 years". And, at present, the main challenge is that, in the more than 18 thousand polling stations, on Sunday, November 28, there will be at least one electoral suitcase, the ballots of the three levels, and that there will be a polling station integrated in the way the new Honduran electoral law establishes.

"We hope that each voting board that is integrated in each voting center throughout the country understands that its civic commitment, its formal and legal commitment, its constitutional commitment, is not only to a body that runs the election at the top level, but to the citizens themselves who will go to deposit the most sacred thing they have, their will, their vote".

Political violence 

It is a fact that political violence has increased in Honduras as election day approaches. And while it is true that this phenomenon is not new, the problem has worsened and worsened since the coup d'état.

"It is a political violence that has an important historical break since June 28, 2009. We cannot evaluate the facts in the same way from that date backwards. A political violence in good part that worsened in the 2013 election, and that continues its course of aggravation in the 2017 elections, where at least 22 young people, who were investigated and that their own body spoke, were killed with official bullets."

Such violence, he also said, has permeated from state institutions down to the neighborhood, colony, village or hamlet level.

Broken trust

The hours are counting down to the beginning of the most awaited day in this country after the fraud of 2017. And at this point, there is not much hope on the part of the people that their true will will will be respected. However, they hope that, with the arrival of electoral observers from various countries, as well as the eyes of governments such as the U.S. and after a failed election in the sister country of Nicaragua, the situation will change.

"I cannot demand that the people have confidence," said Rixi Moncada. She clarified that the issue of trust "is not built with words, it is concluded with actions". 

He added that, "the only thing I can guarantee to the Honduran people and to society in general is what I have said from day one, that assuming this position with the full and absolute responsibility and conviction that the country requires a change in the sense of truth to build trust, ensuring that, without distinction of political parties, organizations or ideological conception, is to be eyes, ears and voice of what is produced here, actions or omissions that have to do with the guarantee of the result.".

"Society, the political parties, the Honduran people, the international community and the observers will know it. Yours truly is committed to the truth and to the construction of institutionality from the base, through trust, not in words, but in action", he assured.

In this sense, he pointed out that the Council has had attempts of direct intervention from the legislative and executive branches, which has been denounced at the time. 

In view of this, the official gave no guarantee that the system would not "fall down" again, since this is no longer in her hands when there is interference of another nature.

"We are ready for the contingencies inherent to the organization and administration of an electoral process that moves the 18 departments of the country and the 298 municipalities. We are ready for the contingency of administering, directing the electoral process, and guaranteeing that all the equipment is available on election day, but no one ever prepares for crimes, and you can never be ready for contingencies that go beyond the democratic framework and order".

Youth vote, a vote of hope

For these elections, the electoral official expects the people to go to the polls, in a peaceful manner, and to have a participation of at least 70 percent of the electorate. However, she knows that the strength of the vote could be in the young people, who today, more than ever, are concerned about the democratic, economic, political and social future of Honduras.

"I shudder at the young vote! I feel with the young vote a much greater commitment than with the vote of my generation, who have had to hold a political banner, especially after the coup d'état..." It is precisely to that Honduran youth that he called this coming Sunday to vote. "Let us define our destiny together. Please, let us all go to the ballot box, let us abandon the comfort of the spaces where we are and, even in the most difficult conditions of survival we have, let us all go to the ballot box to define our political and life destiny for the next decade.".

Offline

At the end of the interview, the camera was still rolling. But Roxi made it clear, at that moment, that she was not afraid of the threats that have and could come after the preliminary results on the afternoon of November 28th. A date that will mark the destiny of a country that every day faces an unprecedented departure of citizens who, in search of a better life and safety, painfully leave the country where they were born and venture on a journey of days to reach, in their best wish, the United States. 

Rixie Moncada experienced first hand having to flee, because after the coup d'état, she had to walk more than 13 hours and cross mountains, with the military behind her, to take refuge in Nicaragua. 

However, he is confident that pressure from the international community and the people in the streets will change a destiny that has been plagued by violence and drug trafficking.

Watch the interview here:

You may be interested in: Voice and forcefulness, we expect from electoral observers in Honduras: Bertha Zúñiga

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