- Sunday, December 17th, 2017 -
Tonight, the Electoral Tribunal announced official results declaring Juan Orlando Hernandez President elect with 42.95% of the votes and 41.24% for Salvador Nasralla. Almost immediately after, the European Union's Election Observation Mission held a press conference outlining and reviewing the recommendations from their preliminary report issued on December 4th. The mission basically concluded that the TSE had met their recommendations.
Right after the TSE announcement, Hondurans went into the streets all around the country. The Opposition Alliance Coordinator, Manuel Zelaya called for Hondurans to protest in public spaces shortly after the TSE's declarations. The Alliance also held a press conference rejecting the TSE's declaration; calling on the Armed Forces and National Police to follow Nasralla's command; denouncing aspects of the EU's statement; and calling Hondurans to protest, among other points.
Earlier today in the afternoon, Salvador Nasralla held a press conference in the Tegucigalpa airport outlining the agenda for his trip to Washington DC. Nasralla is now in Washington DC and over the next few days (if he doesn't rush back to Honduras because of today's announcement), planned to meet with the State Department, OAS General Secretary Luis Almagro, former U.S. Ambassador to Honduras, Lisa Kubiske, WOLA, U.S. Senators, and the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights. The title of the Alliance's communique from tonight reads "they deceived Salvador Nasralla by taking him to Washington."
At 9 pm local time, the OAS Electoral Observation Mission held a press conference (while Hondurans were already in the street throughout the country). The OAS Mission representative read a 13-page report which includes one of the final lines: "the Electoral Observation Mission considers that it observed an electoral process of poor quality and therefore, we can't say for sure that the doubts about the process have been clarified." Before the TSE announced the final results earlier in the afternoon, OAS General Secretary Almagro tweeted twice providing a hint that the OAS Observer mission may come out against the TSE's declarations. His tweets were: "Uncertainty leads me to request not to make irresponsible public declarations until final reports from the OAS Electoral Observation Mission in Honduras" and "Reports from the OAS Electoral Observation Mission in Honduras conclude that serious doubts about results persist. Press conference soon." And then after the OAS press conference, Almagro tweeted: "General Secretariat of the OAS proposes new elections in order to guarantee peace and harmony in Honduras given the impossibility of certainty of the election results." It is unclear as to what will happen next given different statements from the EU and OAS observation missions.
By the time the OAS press conference concluded, road blocks and protests were growing all around the country. At 10:40 pm, the Platform of Social and Popular Movements of Honduras (PMSPH) reported 88 protests nationwide. As of 11:08 pm, there were 28 road blocks and protests just in Tegucigalpa. People on the street did not seem surprised by the TSE's declarations but were the spark that got them into the streets. The EU and OAS's declarations seemed largely irrelevant and unsurprising to people. Many anti-fraud protesters that I spoke to tonight are saying that this week will be the most important, saying that 'this is it,' meaning they need to do everything possible in terms of protests and actions to stop Juan Orlando Hernandez from winning and taking power. Before today's declaration by the TSE, the Alliance had already called another National Mobilization day for tomorrow, Monday, December 18th.
This is going to be a very difficult week in Honduras.
A few hours after the protests started and late into the night/early morning, reports are starting to come in that military & military police are repressing protesters. COFADEH reports that approximately 20 anti-fraud protesters were detained in southern city of Choluteca. In Tegucigalpa, Honduran media UNETV are reporting that the Honduran military were firing on protesters in the El Sitio neighbourhood. Its still too difficult to confirm a lot of this information because it literally feels like the country is going to explode.
FROM PREVIOUS DAYS - Day 15 to 18 UPDATE
Honduran human rights organization, the Committee of the Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH) released updated information about the number of assassinations committed by state security forces from November 30 to December 15th. According to COFADEH, 22 people have been murdered, some anti-fraud protesters and some bystanders in various parts of Honduras, many of which are committed by the Military Police (PMOP).
Its hard to overstate just how bad the human rights situation is here. Since the last update on Day 13 and 14, reports around the country about abuses by state security forces have worsened. The number of people assassinated during the electoral crisis and fraud, just does not tell the whole story about the widespread abuses, terror campaigns, disproportionate use of force, and the complete free reign of state security forces, particularly the Military Police, to do what they want, when they want, and against whoever.
The terror tactics being used against the population have worsened since Thursday, December 14th. By the National Mobilization Day on Friday December 15th, videos, pictures and reports from all over the country documenting the terror, were circulating. Some of the videos were reposted on the HSN's Facebook. The following are some examples of the widespread abuses and terror being used against the population:
The north coast of Honduras, particularly the San Pedro Sula area (Villanueva, Choloma, and El Progreso) and San Juan Pueblo in the department of Atlantida, have seen some of the worst abuses in the last few days. Testimonies of a woman living in Choloma tells about how Military Police showed up in poor, marginalized neighbourhood in the middle of the night, yelling, shooting their guns and tear gas. She told me that when she took a few steps outside the front of her house to see what the commotion was, Military Police began shooting their weapons at her and she was hit in the leg.
Another community leader and organizer in another part of Choloma had Military Police show up at his house at 5 am as he was arriving home from work. The Military Police broke into his home, dragged him out to the front of his house, threw him on the ground, tasered him, pointed guns at his head, and threatened to disappear him if he continues to go to the protests. Various people from the man's community began crowding around him and the Military Police ended up leaving. The following day, the Military Police broke into his home three times with their faces fully covered with black balaclavas, ransacked the house on one occasion, demanding to know where the same man that they had threatened the day before, had gone. The leader was forced to leave his home but state security forces continue to hunt for him, asking people where he is. The same leader says that other houses are being arbitrarily broken into by Military Police and police in the same neighbourhood and they are calling those that they are hunting for, gang members and looters. These forces show up at random hours including in the middle of the night to terrorize the neighbourhood. This is not a unique occurence in Choloma. Similar incidents have been reported in southern Honduras as well.
On Saturday, December 16th, Delmer Josue Medina died after being shot by Military Police in Cofradia in the northern department of Cortés on Friday during the National mobilization day. Family members and bystanders report that the Military Police would not give them access to Delmer for approximately an hour after he had been shot.
Similar abuses are being reported in Atlantida. The Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ) reported on Friday evening that state security forces were beating and detaining protesters and launching tear gas into residential areas in the northern city of San Juan Pueblo in the department of Atlantida. San Juan Pueblo and specifically, MADJ's training and meeting center have been targeted previously by state security forces. The same is occurring with COPINH, who has sent out communique's outlining repression and targeting against their members during actions that they are participating in, in western Honduras.