National Police in Honduras Strike, Refuse to Repress People Further

Tens of thousands of Hondurans have been in the streets protesting what they see as a stolen election since the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) announced that the vote totals show current President Juan Orlando Hernandez winning by a little over 1%. There are grounds for their suspicions:

  • The Economist, before the election, published an article, “Is Honduras Ruling Party Planning to Rig an Election?” , saying that they had a recording of a training session for National Party members who would be manning voting tables at polling places on election day that included 5 methods for rigging votes in favor of the National Party presidential candidate, sitting President Juan Orlando Hernandez.
  • The TSE initially stalled the announcement of voting results an unprecedented 10 hours after the polls had closed, then over the next week experienced what they described as "computer crashes" 3 times, after which the tendency of the votes (the percentage going to each candidate) shifted dramatically in favor of President Hernandez. Before the "crashes"--which caused delays of 5 or more hours--the tendency was a 5% lead for opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla. A TSE member in the first announcement stated that the vote tendency toward Nasralla's lead was "irreversible," and that a win for Hernandez would be statistically virtually impossible.

The military, military police, special forces, and national police all have had a heavily armed presence in the streets to shut down the protests and were using live ammunition as well as rubber bullets, tear gas, and water cannons against the crowds as of last week. 8 people have died, many more have serious injuries, and over 500 have been arrested. 

Then, in an astonishing event last night, some of the Cobra special forces, later joined by the National Police, announced they were going on strike until the political crisis was resolved. Sovereignty is lodged in the Honduran people, according to the Constitution, and the police stated they were no longer willing to follow orders that expected them to confront and repress the people's rights (presumably to free speech and assembly). They stressed that what they were doing was not to be considered political, nor a labor complaint, but that they felt they were being asked to do things that violated basic rights. Unfortunately, the military and military police are still in the streets with their U.S.-provided weapons and "counter-insurgency" training. 

This action of the police must be supported by renewed calls for a political solution to this crisis, namely a recount of the contested vote tallies with the presence of all political parties and ideally supervised by an independent, international body such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.  While many international organizations have called for such a recount, the U.S. Embassy has not. Further, with ironic timing, the State Department has just certified that Honduras is making improvements in cleaning up corruption and in meeting human rights standards, so that military aid and Alliance for Prosperity funds (much of it designed for security forces to prevent people from migrating to the U.S.) will not be held up. 

Please call Senator Durbin's office (202-224-2152) and Senator Duckworth's office (202-224-2854) and the office of your Representative (ask to be connected to their office after calling the Captiol Switchboard at 202-2243121) with the following message:

I am concerned that the U.S. says it promotes democracy when, in fact, it is aiding a foreign government that is in the process of conducting election fraud. Right now in Honduras, 9 days after the Honduran people voted in a national election, tens of thousands are in the streets protesting that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), appointed by current President Juan Orlando Hernandez, has engaged in fraud in order to give Hernandez more votes. The protesters have been violently repressed by the military and police, who have killed 8 people and injured many, yet the protests continue. People are saying that this feels like a second coup. 

The Organization of American States (OAS) and the European Union have both called for recounts of the contested votes to resolve the crisis, and last night, the National Police went on strike and also called for a resolution of the crisis. Only the U.S. Embassy continues to support the TSE. I am calling on (Senator Durbin or Senator Duckworth or Rep. ____) to make a public statement challenging the State Deparment and Embassy's position and calling for a vote recount. It should compares the polling place tallies held by representatives of the various political parties with those recorded by the TSE. All political parties should be present and ideally the recount should be supervised by an independent, international body such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The U.S. should not recognize a new President in Honduras before such a recount, or a new election, takes place.