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Honduras Awaits Results in Presidential Election

  • November 29, 2021

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras — The presidential vote is billed as Honduras’s last chance to avoid the abyss. What the danger is depends on which side you’re on.

The leftist opposition is warning voters that the governing party has increased its hold on the country’s security forces, courts and the congress over its 12 years in power, and one more term with it would push the country decisively into authoritarianism and the grip of organized crime.

The bloc in power, the National Party, is painting their leading challenger as a Communist who would ally Honduras to Venezuela and legalize abortion, upsetting a deeply conservative society.

Polls show a tight race between the National Party’s candidate, Nasry Asfura, who is the charismatic mayor of the capital, Tegucigalpa; and Xiomara Castro, the wife of Manuel Zelaya, a leftist former president.

The high stakes and the expectation of a close outcome are fueling fears of fraud and unrest among the supporters of both parties.

Both candidates, in different ways, promise a break with the deeply unpopular outgoing president, Juan Orlando Hernández, whose time in office was marked by endemic corruption, weak economic growth and accusations of drug trafficking.

The party of Ms. Castro, who is running to become Honduras’ first female president, is trying to capitalize on voters’ desire for change after 12 years under the National Party.

“We’re united by one expression: Get out JOH!” Ms. Castro told a chanting crowd of several thousand at a recent campaign rally in the city of San Pedro Sula, referring to the widely used acronym of Mr. Hernández’s name.

Mr. Asfura, a wealthy former construction businessman with the governing party, calls himself Papi, a Spanish term of endearment that means “Daddy.” He is running under the slogan “Daddy Is Different,” to set himself apart from the current president. Mr. Hernández, whose approval rating is close to single digits, is never mentioned at his rallies or seen on campaign materials.

In contrast to the aloof Mr. Hernández, Mr. Asfura has cast himself as a can-do Everyman, introducing himself to voters as “Daddy at your service,” and jumping into campaign crowds in whitewashed jeans and construction boots.

His proposals have been limited to promising “jobs, jobs, jobs.” The National Party is relying heavily on handouts ranging from cash transfers to construction materials ahead of the elections. Their activists have warned voters that this economic aid would stop if they lost power.

The National Party has also painted Ms. Castro as a radical leftist, which could hurt her in a conservative country shaped by a close alliance to the United States during the Cold War.

Fears of a sharp leftward shift helped topple the government of Ms. Castro’s husband, Mr. Zelaya. He was elected president but ousted in a military coup in 2009 after following the policies of Venezuela’s late president, Hugo Chávez.

Ms. Castro has tried to both appease the leftist supporters of Mr. Zelaya and appeal to the more moderate sectors of society. She has built a broad coalition with centrist parties and brought respected technocrats into her economic team, which got the endorsement of Honduras’ business sector.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/11/28/world/honduras-election-results

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