Honduras - Politics
Public demonstrations, protests, and strikes are common. Most demonstrations are concentrated in/around city centers, public buildings, and other public areas. Most protests have been peaceful; however, on rare occasion, there have been violent confrontations between the police and demonstrators. Additionally, there have been demonstrations and road blockades along key routes (e.g. the road leading to the international airport in Tegucigalpa).
Honduras exhibits the third highest level of system support among the 22 countries surveyed by Pew in 2017; with higher system support than Canada and the United States; a dramatic increase in system support in 2010. Hondurans are well below the mid-point of 0-100 scale, and are the fourth from the bottom on political tolerance. Regression analysis reveals that support for coups and ideology are the two most significant factors in determining levels of political tolerance. A large plurality of Hondurans express attitudes conducive to “authoritarian stability,” thus perhaps explaining some of the consequences of the political crisis of 2009. The two factors that seemed to be weakly connected to attitudes supportive of stable democracy are satisfaction with the performance of the current president and corruption victimization.
Pervasive societal violence persisted, although the state made measurable progress in reducing it. Reports of violence in rural areas, including the Bajo Aguan region, related to land-rights disputes involving indigenous people, agricultural workers, and landowners remained significantly lower than in recent years. Organized criminal elements, including local and transnational gangs and narcotics traffickers, were significant perpetrators of violent crimes, and committed acts of murder, extortion, kidnapping, torture, human trafficking, and intimidation of journalists, women, and human rights defenders. The most serious human rights problems were corruption, intimidation, and institutional weakness of the justice system leading to widespread impunity; unlawful and arbitrary killings and other criminal activities by members of the security forces; and harsh and at times life-threatening prison conditions.
President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown on 28 June 2009 and forced into exile. The interim government said it ousted the president because he was trying to illegally change the constitution to extend his time in office. Conservative politician Porfirio Lobo was elected as the country's new president. Zelaya denounced the election as illegitimate, and many countries did not recognize the vote. Honduras was on the road to reconciliation, with political parties scheduled to hold primaries in 2012, and a general election scheduled for the following year.
Since 2009, the country has been on a social, political and economic downward spiral. President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown by a coup d'etat June 28, 2009 when soldiers stormed his residence and flew him to Costa Rica under a Supreme Court order. Overall, since the coup, underemployment, unemployment and sub-employment have doubled and by 2019 accounted for 63 percent of the population. “Ever since the 2009 military coup (that removed President Manuel Zelaya) … Honduras has failed (as) a state to provide for its citizens, enforce the rule of law, and function as a vehicle for democratic decision making,” Professor Frank told teleSUR in 2018.
Economic inequality, which decreased for four years starting in 2006, the year after Zelaya entered office, began to increase in 2010, and by 2013 Honduras had the most unequal income distribution in Latin America, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). The country now experiencing near-constant electrical outages, the public healthcare system is being defunded, and several seemingly random massacres have happened since January around the country. Since late April 2019, strikes and protests across the nation have been taking place against Hernandez’ and legislators attempts to cut funding to public education and healthcare and make layoffs easier in these sectors. But most of the public anger was based in the rage against Hernandez and what he represents—corruption, violence, elitism and keeping Honduras a puppet to the U.S. that supported the Zelaya coup ten years earlier.
Honduras erupted in protest in April 2019 against health and education privatisation, but the actions soon evolved into nationwide protests and blockades demanding "Fuera JOH" (Out With JOH), the acronym for Hernandez's name. Police and military forces cracked down on protests, sometimes with live ammunition. At least three protesters were killed last week alone. On 24 June 2019, military police entered the capital city campus of the National Autonomous University of Honduras and opened fire on student protesters, sending at least four to the hospital with gunshot wounds.
Hondurans on 18 October 2019 took to the streets to demand the resignation of President Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH) after the New York Federal Court found his brother, Tony Hernandez, guilty on charges of drug trafficking, use of weapons and lying to authorities. "We call on all our militancy to total, organized and permanent nationwide mobilization by performing peaceful but firm and forceful protests," said former president Manuel Zelaya, who is the Freedom and Refoundation Party (Libre) coordinator. Besides asking the United States to suspend all aid to the Hernandez administration, Zelaya asked to give the Honduran people a "democratic government" and fair laws.
Former presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla called for the installation of a transitional government, which would be chaired by him until the winner of the 2021 elections takes office. The rejection of President JOH happened even in the least expected places and moments. During a sports program broadcasted on television, the host railed against Hernandez whom he described as a "drug trafficker", emphasizing that the ruling National Party lawmakers are "cockroaches."
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