Political and drug violence threaten Honduran elections

Elections in Honduras
Scene of a street in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. Elections begin in Honduras with high levels of violence. Photo: Manuel Ortiz Escámez 

The countdown is on. The most important elections for Honduras are just a few days away, as they could mark a real step towards democracy, but the process is marred by political violence and drug trafficking that have permeated the depths of the race.

There are candidates for elected office who have been denounced or arrested for alleged links to money laundering, in addition to cases of political violence that "are taking on much more worrying nuances than those recorded months ago," according to a statement from the Center for the Study of Democracy (CESPAD) of Honduras.

He added that during this electoral race, the country is facing a scenario of political violence that has left candidates for elected office murdered "with great viciousness", while some 300 candidates have given up seeking office, "due to death threats, harassment and persecution in their municipalities and departments".

The organization recalled that the recent raid on properties belonging to the mayor of the municipality of Talanga, department of Francisco Morazán, Roosevelt Eduardo Avilez López, by the Directorate for the Fight against Drug Trafficking (DLCN) for alleged money laundering, shows and puts back "on the table" the issue of narco-politics. 

According to the investigator, Avilez could not justify more than 160 million lempiras (just over 6.5 million dollars), in relation to the amount he earns as income, while his wife, Nancy Mareyil Santos Ríos - also detained - was found to have another 150 million lempiras (6.1 million dollars) that could not be credited either.

The Avilez case, CESPAD said, "is of utmost concern, because it shows the lack of capacity and willingness to act of the entities responsible for investigating this type of crime, taking into account that the Public Prosecutor's Office itself recognizes that since March 2013, that is, since 8 years ago it was aware of this situation". 

In addition to the account is the investigation for the crime of money laundering of congressional candidate Mauro Antonio Romero Carías, for the Liberal Party, and his wife, Angélica Roxana Girón Hernández, who, at the time of their arrest, had more than one million lempiras (41,000 dollars) confiscated from them, of which they were unable to prove their provenance.

Violence, violence and more violence

Political violence in Honduras has never gone away and has gained strength with time and electoral contests. An example of this was the murder by dismemberment and subsequent burning of the body of Fredy Geovanny Velásquez, a former Nationalist councilman of the municipality of San Luis, Santa Bárbara, at the end of September.

In addition to these are the murders of the mayoral candidate in Santa Ana de Yusguare, Choluteca, Nery Fernando Reyes, for the Liberty and Refoundation Party (LIBRE), and that of Napoleón Muñoz, of the Patriotic Alliance, a candidate for councillor in the municipality of Choloma, Cortés.

These murders, CESPAD said, "raise the urgent need to strengthen the institutions responsible for investigating these types of crimes in the context of the general elections, which are just around the corner, threaten the electoral process and voting day".

He also considered that although there are other issues that make up the contextual framework of Honduras, "it highlights the concern of the institutional weakness to ensure transparency in electoral financing".

Meanwhile, he said, "the threats, persecution and crimes against mayors, councillors and other political figures that, in the absence of an investigation to elucidate the origin of the violence, it is taken for granted that it is the result of political action.

It should be noted that in the general elections to be held on November 28, to which more than 5.1 million Hondurans are summoned, three designated "vice presidents", 298 municipal mayors, 128 deputies to the local Parliament and 20 to the Central American Parliament will also be elected.

Te you may be interested in: Honduras' 2021 elections, mired in crisis and violence

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