Development and Peace – Caritas Canada, the international development organization of the Catholic Church in Canada, has been present in Honduras through a network of partner organizations for more than forty years now. As post electoral turmoil takes over the country, in which security forces are using a state of emergency to prevent people from protesting the manipulation and suspected fraud of the November 26 elections, we express our solidarity with the Honduran people and salute all the brave women and men who peacefully exercised their right to vote. As a faith based organization, our recommendations are based on the principles of justice, truth and peace that underpin our work.
As our partner organizations have pointed out in the past, the government of the incumbent Juan Orlando Hernandez was already stained by its connections to the 2009 coup d’état against a legitimately elected government. Through massive fraud which raised illicit funds by stealing funds from the Honduran national health service, and use of party appointed judges to reverse a constitutional ban on presidents from seeking two mandates, Mr. Hernandez, the National Party candidate, set up an election that was already tainted by allegations of fraud and irregularities.
In the face of widespread suspected cheating at the polls and the failure thus far of the Supreme Electoral Council to competently count ballots and announce the results of the elections, we call on the international community to form an independent international commission to supervise a new and complete scrutiny of all the ballot counts. This recount should be carried out with the supervision of the United Nations and should be observed by representatives of all political parties.
Until the above step has been taken and the findings made public, the Supreme Electoral Council should refrain from announcing any election results.
Furthermore, we call on the Honduran government to lift the state of emergency and the curfew, and to allow Honduran citizens to peacefully demonstrate in defence of their right to universal suffrage, to free and fair elections and other democratic rights that are guaranteed in the Honduran Constitution and the international treaties to which Honduras is party. Political parties should also ensure their supporters adopt attitudes of peace, respect and dialogue while exercising these democratic rights.
The right to freedom of expression should be respected and foreign correspondents should be allowed into the country. All journalists must be permitted to circulate freely, do their work unhindered, and inform the population.
Finally, we call on the Honduran state to carry out a serious investigation into the allegations of fraud carried out before the elections, alleged cheating at the polls and suspected irregularities in the count which are occurring as Hondurans wait for the results. Those found responsible for any fraud should be prosecuted and brought to justice. Furthermore, the human rights violations including police shootings that have in some cases resulted in death, and arbitrary detentions that have taken place since the elections, must be investigated and perpetrators punished.
As the gospels tell us, we are convinced that the truth will make us all free, and it is only the truth that can bring a viable solution to this crisis. As the Jesuits of Central America point out in their analysis of the situation, “Peace is the fruit of justice” (Isaiah 32:17). At this stage, these principles of truth and justice are the only way forward for Honduras.