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Honduras presidential election: a referendum on the nation’s corruption and drugs | Honduras

Hondurans head to the polls on Sunday in the first normal election since US federal prosecutors laid out detailed proof of intimate ties between drug smugglers and the Honduran state.

The nation’s previous three presidents, in addition to native mayors, legislators, police and army commanders have been linked to drug trafficking in what US prosecutors have described as a narco-state.

One brother of the present president, Juan Orlando Hernández, is serving a life sentence in the US on trafficking expenses, whereas Hernández himself has been accused of looking for to “shove the drugs right up the noses of the gringos”.

Sunday’s election is seen by many as a referendum on the corruption that has allegedly permitted drug traffickers to infiltrate the authorities all the approach to the high.

“We’ve been discredited as a nation of corrupt politicians, drug traffickers and thieves – and it’s true,” stated Cristóbal Ferrera, 70, after a day of hawking gum, mints and unfastened cigarettes in Tegucigalpa’s central park. “For my kids, for my grandchildren and for my nation, might these corrupt individuals depart now, we don’t need to proceed struggling,” stated Ferrera.

Hernández, who was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in his brother’s case and two others, may quickly do exactly that. Protected till now by a US justice division coverage of not charging sitting presidents, it’s broadly believed that he might be indicted by US prosecutors the day after he leaves workplace in January.

Hernández has vehemently denied all the accusations and has lately devoted vital time and sources to an try and clear his title, together with the publication of a e-book about his political profession that he stated units the file straight.

Whether or not or not he’s extradited to the US to face the expenses might be determined by the consequence of the election.

A protester holds a sign on the state of Honduras’ government.
A protester holds a signal on the state of Honduras’s authorities. {Photograph}: Erik Pendzich/REX/Shutterstock

The following congress could have the alternative to reshape a troubled justice system by electing a new supreme courtroom, lawyer normal and state auditors, all of whom will serve for phrases that reach past a single election cycle.

“It’s not nearly the presidency, it’s additionally about who will management congress and what their hyperlinks are to corruption and drug trafficking,” stated Eric Olson, a Central America skilled for the Seattle Worldwide Basis.

Nasry Asfura, 63, the mayor of the capital, Tegucigalpa, and presidential candidate for the conservative Nationwide get together is believed by many to be Hernández’s hand-picked successor – and potential protector. Asfura has tried laborious to beat that notion, usually saying that he’s “no one’s errand boy”.

However a refusal to handle the situation of Hernández’s potential extradition when pressed by the media hasn’t helped, nor has a ticket filled with politicians accused of drug trafficking and corruption who’re looking for re-election.

Asfura is in a tight race with the main opposition candidate, Xiomara Castro, 62, whose husband, Manuel “Mel” Zelaya was president from 2006 till 2009 when he was ousted in a military-backed coup. Like Hernández, Zelaya has been accused of accepting thousands and thousands of {dollars} in bribes from drug traffickers, which he denies.

Castro has by no means been personally accused of corruption, whereas Asfura was accused of misappropriating roughly $1m in a case that was shelved by a decide earlier than it might go to trial.

Hernández’s two phrases as president have been suffering from scandals, not the least of which the incontrovertible fact that he employed a doubtful courtroom ruling to disregard a constitutional prohibition towards re-election and then gained a second time period in a 2017 vote that was marred by allegations of fraud. Mixed with the corruption and drug trafficking allegations, Hernández has come to embody the worst of Honduran politics in the eyes of many.

“Simply listening to his title makes it really feel like the floor is caving in,” stated Ferrera, who hopes Castro will convey change and restore the repute of Honduras.

“What we wish is to listen to different international locations say that we’ve improved.”

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