Honduras Celebrates a Great Leap Toward Democracy

On Nov. 28, 2021 democracy triumphed in Honduras.  As soon as the first ballots were counted it became clear: Xiomara Castro of the Libre party was overwhelming the ruling party — and winning the presidency of Honduras.

“What a beautiful sight — to see people jubilant , waving flags, and dancing into the night in the streets of San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa, cities renowned for violence and corruption.” said Marco Castillo, leader of the CESPAD/Global Exchange election observation mission.

Global Exchange was on the ground in Honduras from Nov. 23 – Nov 30, working closely with  our Honduran partners at CESPAD to mobilize over 200 Honduran youth and civil society members along with 40 international delegates to observe the elections.

These elections come 12 years after a military coup ousted the democratically elected president in Honduras.

Hondurans went to the polls and voted by stunning margins to end the miserable and corrupt rule of the National Party that had taken power in a 2009 military coup with tacit U.S. support.

Corruption and economic deterioration followed the coup and U.S. sanctioned election fraud in 2017 kept the national party in power.

We know how Honduras has suffered as a pawn of violent U.S. policies in the region and as a northbound transport “trampoline” for cocaine traffickers. It was particularly galling when Donald Trump stigmatized desperate Honduran migrants who caravanned north after the 2017 election fraud (that he green-lighted) as “invaders”; but, the neocolonial domination of Honduras has long been bi-partisan.

But democracy and national sovereignty won in November 2021, and authoritarianism and colonial domination lost. This is the reality that turned the streets electric and raised hope in a country where hope has been hard to find.

We congratulate the Honduran people on a hard won victory.  We also want to thank our supporters who have helped us to invest deeply in supporting these elections and appeal to our supporters to help us stay the course. Honduras now has an enormous opportunity to redefine its destiny, but our support must continue and we still need your help.

Global Exchange has been involved in Honduras since the late 1980s when Media Benjamin wrote, “Don’t Be Afraid Gringo” the story of Elvia Alvarado, a Honduran organizer who galvanized her community despite the U.S. backed repression of that era.  We have worked to stay connected with Honduras and it was no coincidence that Tegucigalpa, Honduras was where we started our five-nation End the Drug War Caravan to New York City and the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs in 2016.

The connections we have made over the years led us to CESPAD, (The Center for the Study of Democracy) and the robust partnership we established to train, equip, and deploy hundreds of national and international observers around the country on Nov. 28.  We worked closely with CESPAD, for months, to investigate conditions on the ground and to attract media coverage to potential problems or irregularities prior to the elections.

We are grateful to the many international observers who volunteered their time, energy, and talent to travel to Honduras. We are also grateful to the donors who dug deep to help house, feed, and transport those volunteers.  And we are grateful to those in Washington who helped us develop and circulate a letter on Capitol Hill that garnered 29 signatures (13 Senators, 16 Representatives) calling on Secretary of State Blinken to support clean and fair elections in Honduras.  As usual, it takes all of us pulling in the same direction to make something good happen.

We have no illusions that democracy will suddenly fix all of Honduras’ problems. Most of them have been long in the making and will take time and patience to resolve. Some have to do with the climate disaster that we all face collectively. Others have to do with the designs of international investors who will likely twist the arm of the incoming government. What we do know is that to move forward, Hondurans will continue to need the attention and support of people of good will, like you, in the United States.