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Joke Elections in Honduras (Get out the word that election results are “highly suspect”)

December 1, 2009

These comments are by the author of the article that follows – Emile Schepers.

COMMENTS: 

There have been developments since I wrote the following article. One
is that President Zelaya did a quick calculation and figured out that
if the coup electoral authorities are telling the truth, i.e. that
1.7 million votes had been counted and this corresponded to 61.3
percent of the total voters, then a 100% turnout would have
corresponded to 2.8 million voters, 600,000 more than were
registered.

The vote totals are all up in the air because as they were being
“verified” the computerized system “crashed” or some such thing. Some
of us remember the famous Mexican elections of 1988 where something
suspiciously similar happened, stealing a certain victory from
left-center candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas and giving the presidency
to the PRI’s Carlos Salinas de Gortari.

I lived in Chicago for 35 years and participated in one way or
another in almost every election in that period, often as a poll
watcher, and I have seen some funky elections over that time, but
crashing computer systems followed by announcements of huge jumps in
turnout, would not pass muster even in the city of the big shoulders
and hog butcher to the world.

It is all noxious nonsense but tonight I watched the Spanish-language
news on cable TV in the Washington DC area and they are praising this
farrago as a triumph of democracy.

It is extremely important that we get out the word that the election
was NOT clean, that the results announced by the Honduran coup
election authorities are not only NOT reliable but are HIGHLY
SUSPECT, and that one can NOT solve a political problem by means of
FRAUDULENT elections followed by a political and media snow job. I
urge readers to confront and challenge your local press and media
when they make such claims, and get the other side into the public
record.

Emile Schepers

=============================

Honduras election raises questions on turnout, international recognition
by: Emile Schepers
November 30 2009

Regarding the controversial elections in Honduras on Sunday, November
29, all are agreed on one thing: National Party presidential
candidate Pepe Lobo got the most votes, probably around 56 percent.

However, hopes that the Honduras crisis,which began when the elected
president, Manuel Zelaya, was overthrown by a right-wing coup on June
28, would be “solved” by the election seem premature.

That Lobo got the most votes, far more than the Liberal Party
candidate, is probably due to the fact that the Liberal Party to
which both Zelaya and coup leader Roberto Micheletti belong, went
into the election deeply divided and discredited in the eyes of the
voters because of the instability and economic damage caused by the
coup.

But the question of turnout is vitally important, because supporters
of President Zelaya and most of the resistance to the coup had called
for an election boycott if Zelaya and constitutional normality were
not restored in time for the election. One left-wing presidential
candidate, Carlos Reyes, withdrew his candidacy, as did the
left-leaning Liberal Party candidate for vice president, the
incumbent mayor of San Pedro Sula, and several dozen candidates for
Congress and local offices, after the collapse of an October 30
agreement that it had been hoped would solve the crisis.

However another left-wing presidential candidate, Cesar Ham of the
Democratic Unification Party, decided to stay in the race, giving the
reason that his party’s surveys indicated that it would pick up
congressional seats. (We have not yet seen results for Mr. Ham, nor
figures on the number of blank ballots cast as a protest).

The Micheletti coup regime threatened to prosecute anyone who
advocated an electoral boycott, and there were reports of military
and police raiding homes of people who were suspected of being
pro-boycott. On Election Day, police and military suppressed a rally
in Honduras’ second largest city, San Pedro Sula, with reports of one
death plus injuries and arrests. There were also reports that
employees of government agencies and private businesses were being
told that they would be fired if they did not vote.

The government election agency quickly announced a very high turnout
of 61.3%.

But President Zelaya, in refuge in the Brazilian embassy in the
Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, announced a turnout of as low as 21%.
Zelaya based his projection on reports from members of the anti-coup
resistance who were monitoring the vote. To add to the confusion, the
coup government’s electoral agency gave the 61.3 percent figure “only
tentatively”, due to a “breakdown” in the computer system that did
not allow the data to be “verified”. But another agency contracted by
the government to do exit polls showed the turnout to be 47.6
percent. Various reports indicate that the turnout was much lower in
poor urban neighborhoods where Zelaya and the left have most of their
support.

Turnout in Honduras is usually low, about 50%.

The election campaign began, by law, on September 1. For all three
months of the campaign, the Micheletti regime installed by the coup
was in power, repressing pro-Zelaya mobilizations and periodically
shutting down the opposition press and media. The usual groups that
send observers to controversial elections (The Organization of
American States, the European Union, the United Nations and the
non-profit Carter Center) all refused, saying that the basic
conditions for a fair election were not present.

However, the International Republican Institute (an agency of the
G.O.P., which has been enthusiastically backing the coup), plus a
contingent of “monitors” organized by ultra-right Cuban exile U.S.
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, joined observers from the National
Democratic Institute in going down to do “election monitoring”. Their
reports are not in yet, but it is to be doubted that they will
contain surprises.

The Colombian government quickly recognized the results of the
election as clean and fair, and it is likely that other right-wing
governments in the area, such as those of Peru, Panama and Costa
Rica, will do so also. The Obama administration has not given a
definitive statement but seems to be trending that way. On the other
hand, the governments of Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and other
left-wing governments in the area have made it clear that they do not
recognize the results, and are angry with the Obama administration
for waffling on its original support for Zelaya’s restoration.

President Zelaya’s term ends on January 27 and it is improbable that
he will be restored to power as a lame duck. But he is still besieged
in the Brazilian embassy, and there may now be increased danger of a
violent move to get at him.

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One Comment
  1. December 1, 2009 4:22 PM

    IRI and NDI are in Honduras, at the request of the Obama administration, to monitor voting activity and the administration of the electoral process. IRI, along with NDI, was asked by the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development to observe the November 29, 2009 election in Honduras on November 6, 2009.

    IRI has years of experience observing elections — more than 135 elections in 43 countries since 1983. The monitoring process is transparent and IRI will release a statement of the delegation’s findings following the elections. The statement will be available at http://www.iri.org.

    IRI is a nonpartisan organization, not affiliated with any political party and has never participated in or supported a coup in Honduras.

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