Five million voting Hondurans head to the polls on Sunday to elect their next President, the members of the National Congress and 298 mayors.
The two leading presidential candidates are Nasry “Tito” Asfura, mayor of Tegucigalpa, and Xiomara Castro, former first lady and wife of Manuel Zelaya, president from 2006 and 2009, before he was overthrown by the military.
A former political advisor to the Honduran government commented, “Since the coup, Zelaya has worked tirelessly to form regional and territorial alliances that have allowed his wife to be the next president.” A former senior military official in Honduras also predicted a Castro victory, “The current president is mired in allegations of drug trafficking, corruption and oppression, Castro’s rhetoric of a progressive, and not communist, government is winning support. Zelaya has said he will not have a political role, but I find that hard to believe.”
“Since the coup, Zelaya has worked tirelessly to form regional and territorial alliances that have allowed his wife to be the next president.”
Political advisor to the Honduran government, Honduras
The election will take place amid a long-standing political and social crisis that has plagued the second term of the outgoing president Juan Orlando Hernández. Following his disputed re-election in 2017, he removed the constitutional term limits, consolidating his power, but he has been constantly questioned with allegations of corruption and reported links to drug trafficking. Hernández’s brother, Tony, was found guilty of drug trafficking by a New York court in March 2021 for smuggling 185,000 kilos of Colombian cocaine into the US with the assistance of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel.
Opinion polls show Castro, the left-wing candidate, in the lead with 31% of voter intention, over Asfura, the candidate of the ruling National party, with 21%.
Castro is running in alliance with former presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla and other opposition leaders. She has vowed to follow a progressive social agenda which would include decriminalising abortion, setting up an anti-corruption commission alongside the UN, and establishing relations with mainland China.
The political analyst commented, “Two central issues have been put on the table, foreign debt renegotiation and development financing under the North American programme to boost development in the Northern Triangle. When he was in power, Zelaya joined the Bolivarian Alliance, largely for Venezuelan petrodollars that carried better rates than international banks. They won’t do that this time around, he will get closer to the banks and the IMF.”
“Two central issues have been put on the table, foreign debt renegotiation and development financing under the North American programme to boost development in the Northern Triangle.”
Political analyst, Honduras
Asfura, son of Palestinian migrants, is a conservative contractor and businessman. He has faced charges of fraud, embezzlement and money laundering, all of which were dismissed by criminal courts. However, he was listed in the ICIJ Pandora Papers for holding a company in Panama which remained active while he held public office
The importance of the congressional vote should be forgotten either, explained the political analyst, “In the end, the Congress is the arena where the ideology becomes reality and it will be central to Castro’s policies, including the establishment of a commission against corruption, supported by the UN. That would be a watershed moment in Honduran political life.”