This week on Hold your Fire! Richard Atwood and Naz Modirzadeh talk to Crisis Group experts Tiziano Breda and Ivan Briscoe about politics in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras and why Central Americans are leaving for the United States.
Following months of heightened political tensions, country headed toward peaceful transfer of power as President Hernández recognised victory of outsider presidential candidate Xiomara Castro. Outgoing President Hernández 1 Dec congratulated left-wing Liberty and Refoundation (LIBRE) party candidate Xiomara Castro on winning 28 Nov presidential election and called for “pacific and democratic transition of power”; Castro, first successful presidential candidate outside two traditional parties, due to become first female president in country’s history after taking office 27 Jan. U.S. VP Kamala Harris 10 Dec congratulated Castro on “historic victory”, expressed willingness “to increase economic opportunities, combat corruption, and deepen the partnership between the U.S. and Honduras”. National Electoral Council (NEC) 20 Dec released final presidential results, declaring Castro winner with 51.12% of votes, 14 points ahead of ruling National Party candidate Nasry Asfura at 36.93%; said turnout reached 68.58%. Meanwhile, controversy emerged over legislative elections also held 28 Nov. Candidates from various parties, particularly from Castro’s running mate Honduras’ Saviour Party, early Dec filed multiple complaints alleging fraud favouring candidates from both National Party and Liberal Party. NEC 7 Dec announced recount of almost 5,000 ballot boxes for legislative and municipal elections following at least 281 appeals; 28 Dec announced final results, with LIBRE winning 50 seats, National Party 44, Liberal Party 22, and Honduras’ Saviour Party ten. U.S. 2 Dec said Honduras, among other countries, was not invited to virtual summit for democracy to be held 9-10 Dec, citing “very disturbing activities” undermining democracy. Violence against politicians, political activists or civil society leaders persisted after 28 Nov votes. Notably, unidentified assailants 5 Dec shot and killed local leader of LIBRE party in Santa Cruz municipality, Lempira department. Armed individuals 8 Dec shot dead justice official in La Unión municipality, Olancho department, and next day killed lawyer in Danlí municipality, El Paraíso department.
With general elections approaching in Honduras, memories of the turbulence around the 2017 vote remain fresh. To avoid a repeat, politicians in Tegucigalpa should pledge to respect the results and authorities should clarify who would resolve any dispute. External actors should prepare to help.
As the coronavirus rages in Mexico and the northerly Central American countries, criminal outfits have adapted, often enlarging their turf. To fight organised crime more effectively, governments should combine policing with programs to aid the vulnerable and create attractive alternatives to illegal economic activity.
Despite U.S. restrictions on Central American migration, Hondurans are fleeing north in record numbers as the country struggles with polarised government, corruption, poverty and violence. With outside help, Tegucigalpa should revisit its heavy-handed security policies and enact judicial and electoral reforms to avert future upheaval.
Central American gangs are responsible for brutal acts of violence, abuse of women and forced displacement of thousands. Governments must go beyond punitive measures and address the social and economic roots of gang culture, tackle extortion schemes and invest in communities.
Ending bloodshed in this neglected border region requires more than task forces: credible institutions, access to state services and continuing security are also needed.
We are worried about what might be the long-term consequences of the current turmoil [in Honduras], especially in terms of how drug-trafficking groups may expand activities in a period of political crisis.
Violence [in Honduras] is likely to escalate in the upcoming weeks since there is still no clear winner [of the elections] and the opposition its mobilizing its supporters.
As the coronavirus spreads, and the U.S. presidential election looms, the Trump administration and Mexican government continue to deport migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Some deportees are carrying the virus. Central American states should press their northern neighbours for more stringent health measures.
Ten years after a coup, Honduras remains deeply polarised. Mass protests and the government’s heavy-handed response have damaged the economy and sparked deadly violence. Crisis Group Northern Triangle Analyst Tiziano Breda explains the origins of the intense public discontent that is roiling the country.
With massive protests, armed clashes and a government-declared state of emergency, Honduras is in social and political chaos after the 26 November general elections. In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Northern Triangle Analyst Sofía Martínez explains what has sparked the crisis and its potential effect on armed violence.
The northward flow of undocumented migrants fleeing economic hardship and violence in the Northern Triangle of Central America exposes thousands of vulnerable people to mass victimisation. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2017 – Third Update early warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to continue to pursue an approach grounded in supporting community violence prevention, institutional reform and poverty alleviation in the countries of origin while supporting transiting countries in managing the flow.