By: René Estrada,
As part of the Electoral Observation project, the Center for Democracy Studies (CESPAD) worked with a team of three journalists from Mexico and the United States that visited the country to cover the Honduran social context in the lead up to the general elections that will be held on November 28, 2021.
The journalists were not unaware of the social and economic crisis that this Central American country lives as a result of the years of administration by governments tainted by corruption; the unconstitutional reelection of current President Juan Orlando Hernandez that created as a result, a social convulsion that is without precedent from the end of 2017 to the start of 2018, likewise, the growing consequences of the pandemic and more recently, the effects of hurricanes Eta and Iota.
Face to Face with the People
The center of Tegucigalpa, the area located around the Los Dolores market place, the Central Park and other unique, important areas like the famous “pedestrian walkway” (calle peatonal) were areas where the journalists spoke with people about the situation they live in Honduras. They also asked people what they expect from the results of the general elections that are right around the corner.
In the Honduran capital, they also conducted interviews with representatives of organized civil society groups and the National Electoral Council (CNE by its Spanish acronym), which is in charge with overseeing the electoral process.
(Photo caption: Interview with civil society groups. Photo: Manuel Ortiz)
Up Close With Social-Territorial Struggles
With prior understanding of the social-territorial struggles occurring in some regions of the country, the group of journalists gathered their belongings and travelled north to the Lower Agúan region and the municipality of Tocoa in the department of Colón.
In person, members of the Misquita and Tolupán indigenous communities and small farmers from the Lower Aguán narrated their situation that, in principle, they confront as a result of abandonment by the central government. Worse yet, these groups spoke about the difficult situations that they face due to the attacks they suffer by large land-owners and extractive companies investors that illegally possess their lands and territories.
The Lower Aguán, just like the area where the villages of San Pedro and Guapinol are located, are important locations to visit in order to understand the situation that other communities in the country live, and like others, they face large extractive companies that receive support from Honduran state security forces and local municipal authorities that have criminalized individuals that defend public and natural resources.
(Photo: Manuel Ortiz visiting rural Honduras)
The group of journalists left Honduras with a commitment to let others know about the hard and difficult reality that many communities live. They categorized the Honduran mainstream media’s limited coverage of these conflicts as “extremely unusual” and because of this, will write via their own platforms about these struggles. This was one of the objectives of their trip.
Despite their short visit, the journalists experienced important interactions with different actors that are part of the national context. They will be the major focus of the website http://peninsula360press.com, a US media outlet. These stories will also be published in CESPAD’s social media accounts.