By Pamela Cruz. Peninsula 360 Press [P360P].
Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Xiomara! Xiomara! Xiomara! was heard over and over again amidst car horns, shouts, hugs and music. On Monday night and early morning, the streets of several cities and departments of Honduras were painted red, an uncontainable red tide that showed that, after a long election day, preliminary results indicate that the country will have its first female president in history.
And it seems that the third time is the charm. According to data from the Honduran National Electoral Council (CNE), 51.45 percent of the tallies have been computed, and the presidential candidate of the Liberty and Refoundation Party (LIBRE), Xiomara Castro, leads with 53.61 percent of the votes.
With almost 20 points behind, the candidate of the National Party of Honduras, Nasry Juan Asfura Zablah "Papi", who, despite the support from the current government, has not been able to catch up with the candidate of the left and only has 33.87 percent of the votes.
Xiomara Castro has swept the polling stations that were installed throughout the country, which shows that the population is fed up with the National Party and a candidate who would give permanence to a project that has permeated the country after the 2009 coup d'état.
The CNE has detailed that 5 million 182 thousand 425 voters were enabled to vote, of which there was a 68.9 percent participation.
Who is Xiomara Castro?
The virtual president of Honduras is a native of the country's capital, Tegucigalpa, where she was born on September 30, 1959, and began her political career by leading street protests for the reinstatement of her husband, Manuel Zelaya, after he was overthrown on June 28, 2009.
However, Xiomara has a career as a business administrator, 4 children, 5 grandchildren, and 44 years of marriage to Manuel "Mel" Zelaya.
Xiomara belonged to the conservative Liberal Party, under whose banner her husband was president of Honduras ?2006-2009? and she was the first lady of the nation. However, after the overthrow of her husband, Castro gained more strength and followers, which made her become the presidential candidate of the newly founded LIBRE Party ?2011? for the November 2013 general elections.
In that, his first attempt failed: he lost to the conservative candidate of the National Party, Juan Orlando Hernández. In 2017 he tried again under the same LIBRE party banner, but again lost, against the same candidate, who was reelected in a vote that has been nationally and internationally branded as fraudulent.
Juan Orlando Hernández will have to cede the presidential chair on January 27, 2022 to Xiomara Castro, the first woman president in the country's history, one whose party is leftist and who seeks to change, at all costs, "the obsolete and exhausted system that oppresses us," she said in her government plan.
For the 2021 elections Castro presented himself with the offer of the "construction" of a "socialist and democratic state", highlighting "the protection of the rights of the sovereign people and nature", according to his government plan.
The first of the three designated "vice presidents" of Xiomara Castro is Salvador Alejandro Cesar Nasralla Salum, with whom he formed the Opposition Alliance against the Dictatorship, which after failing and entering into confrontations, came together again, with the difference that, on this occasion, it was Nasralla who ceded his candidacy for the Salvador Party of Honduras.
Castro's other two appointees are: Doris Alejandrina Gutiérrez, a lawyer, Honduran politician, and physician Renato Florentino Pineda.
The outlook for Xiomara
Castro's virtual victory was a sign of Hondurans' frustration and weariness with widespread poverty, crime, violence, corruption at all levels of government and the continued inability of elected leaders to address these issues.
It is worth recalling that, in 2019, 48 percent of Hondurans were below the poverty line, while 70 percent were underemployed.
The situation has worsened over the past two years, as the hardships of Hondurans have been compounded by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and hurricanes Eta and Iota.
These natural phenomena hit the country hard in November 2020, causing US$1.9 billion in damages and affecting four million Hondurans. Thus, the mixture of these two situations caused Honduras' economy to contract by 9.0 percent in 2020.
Problems such as crime and insecurity are issues that will undoubtedly have to be faced upon arrival to the presidential chair. Homicide rates in Honduras during 2020, despite improving compared to 2019, was 37.6 murders per 100 thousand inhabitants, one of the highest in the region.
Corruption and drug trafficking have also permeated power, as the nation's current president, Juan Orlando Hernandez, has been publicly named as a co-conspirator in a drug trafficking case in a U.S. court, which resulted in the conviction of his brother Tony Hernandez.
In addition, President Hernandez's predecessor, Pepe Lobo, the former president's wife and son, as well as current presidential candidate Yani Rosenthal, have all been convicted or credibly accused of links to drug trafficking or money laundering.
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