Day 12 & 13 (morning) - 2017 Election Crisis Update

- Sunday, December 10 & Monday, December 11 (morning) - 

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Yesterday, the Alliance called large marches in different parts of the country. The march in Tegucigalpa started at the public hospital and ended in front of the U.S. Embassy. There were several signs calling out the U.S. for supporting the electoral fraud. 

There were an announcement circulated calling for a Paro Nacional for today (Monday) but it was not officially called by the Alliance & the Convergence against Reelection. Regardless, there are road blocks and protests all over the country. Road blocks and protests have been reported in: Choluteca (Choluteca), Sambo Creek (Atlantida), Tocoa (Colon), Puente Arizona (Atlantida), Pajuiles (Atlantida), Ceibita (Santa Barbara), Tela (Atlantida), Porterillos (Cortes), and likely in multiple places in Colon. The popular movement in Colon called for permanent blockades starting today. In Tegucigalpa, several roads and major boulevards have been blocked since early this morning. 

Already reports of violent evictions are coming in. Two young people were reported to have been arrested in Choluteca and Military Police fired live rounds at the protesters. A vehicle owned by journalists covering the event were hit by bullets. There have also been evictions reported in El Progreso and several parts of Tegucigalpa. 

Radio Progreso reports that its antenna and tower has been sabotaged which takes its radio in Tegucigalpa off the air. Radio Progreso's station in Tegucigalpa also got a strange visit from the state telecommunications body, CONATEL, on Friday as well. And then on the weekend, they started experiencing strange interruptions and problems with their signal. 

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The TSE announced last night that it finished counting the 4,753 actas of the 5,300 that were flagged by the Alliance as being suspicious. They started the count on Saturday. They announced that the trends favoring JOH remain the same - 42.98% for JOH and 41.38% for Nasralla. The U.S. Embassy released a statement for human rights day yesterday, but its largely believed that the Embassy is really pushing for the TSE to announce results which are likely to mean that they will announce JOH as the winner of the Presidential race. The TSE also updated the information of the total number of 'impugnaciones' or motions to challenge election results. The number is now at 150 motions. 

In response to the TSE's weekend announcements, the Alliance has called a press conference at 11 am this morning.

Finally, Manuel Zelaya, Coordinator of the Alliance, published a letter that accuses the U.S. Embassy of pressuring to divide the Alliance. Yesterday, Mel and Nasralla spoke together to the crowds gathered to protest in Tegucigalpa so not public evidence of a major split to date. Nasralla also did publicly respond to Zelaya's letter. Its important to note that this is the time of closed door negotiations where Nasralla would be under significant pressure from international institutions, specifically the U.S. Embassy. 

Day 10 & 11 - 2017 Electoral Crisis

~ Friday, December 8 & Saturday, December 9, 2017 ~

Today, U.S. Charge D'Affaires Heide Fulton visited the Electoral Tribunal (TSE). Fulton gave a statement to the press saying that the US "is ready to work with whoever wins" and stated as quoted in El Heraldo that "we maintain a position to support a conclusion to this process in a credible and transparent manner that reflects the will of the Honduran people." Her statements aired all over Honduran media and radio. 

TSE President David Matamoros with Heidi Fulton, U.S. Charge D'Affaires at the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa. Picture by Mario Urrutia, El Heraldo

TSE President David Matamoros with Heidi Fulton, U.S. Charge D'Affaires at the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa. Picture by Mario Urrutia, El Heraldo

Fulton's statements could be read as a sign that the Embassy is getting behind the TSE's efforts to just get through the contested 4,753 actas and stop any additional counting (described below). The statement about a conclusion to the process is worrisome. Despite legal actions (see below) and the Alliance's demands, the U.S. statement sounds like they are ready for an announcement to be made. Other national groups are also calling for an announcement of the winners after the 4,753 acta count. 

 

Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE)

The TSE announced on Friday that they finished counting the 1,069 actas that were flagged for "special revision" (escrutinio especial). Then on Friday, they announced that they are beginning a vote by vote recount of 4,753 actas which were part of the 5,300-ish actas that the Alliance flagged as being suspicious. By Saturday evening as a result of the "special revision", the difference between Nasralla and JOH in the 4,753 ballot boxes was approximately 20% in JOH's favor. Obviously something fishy is going on and there just doesn't seem a way that these results can be possible. As far as I know, this information has not been put up on the TSE's website. 

The announcement to count the 4,753 actas represents somewhat of a shift as the TSE and their international backers (particularly the US Embassy) are really trying to make this vote by vote revision look as "legitimate" as possible. I sense that its a last, small effort to give credibility and legitimacy to the TSE while recognizing the institution's willingness to recount contested actas. The US. Embassy, international election observation missions, and members of "civil society organizations" (ASJ, Confraternidad Evangelica) are being used to make the process look legit. Obviously, the U.S and the TSE are trying to contain the fraud by focusing on these last four thousand or so actas while leaving out the broader concerns of the system crashing, the modification of the actas, and other concerns highlighted by the Alliance. 

Legal Actions Against Electoral Results

According to the electoral law, legal actions contesting the elections have to be presented within 10 days of election day which expired yesterday. According to the most updated information (that I believe may need to be updated again), the TSE has received 47 "impugnaciones" or motion to annul different electoral results/outcomes that were presented on Presidential level (1 total); 13 congressional; and 33 on the municipal level. According to the TSE, they have 10 days to respond to these motions. Before elections results are announced, I believe these motions have to be resolved.  

At midnight last night, Salvador Nasralla and the Alliance presented a motion against the vote counting ("escrutino") of all votes cast at the 18,100 voting centers around the country. There is some confusion with Spanish-English translation with the words 'impugnacion' but what we need to understand is that the Alliance is basically contesting how the TSE has carried out the vote counting process so far. This doesn't mean the Alliance is asking to annul the election results. From what was explained to me, presenting a legal motion like this is the first step of legally challenging the vote counting/procedure done to date by the TSE. The Alliance maintains that it wants a full recount that includes and examines not only every vote but also examines the vote tally sheets (actas) and an examination of the signatures signed by voters when casting their ballots amongst their other 11 total demands. 

Yesterday afternoon, Salvador Nasralla also filed a denuncia (legal complaint requesting investigation) in the Office of the Public Prosecutor against TSE President David Matamoros for three charges: Abuse of authority; falsification of public documents; and breach of duties by a public official. 

Environment in Tegucigalpa & elsewhere: 


There is a significant effort to 'normalize' the atmosphere of the country. I believe this is a strategy to push international eyes away from Honduras and to rein in the focus on the tiny details of the vote counting that fewer people are interested in following. 


There are fewer protests in the last few days than last week and the Honduran media are started to report on other stories that are outside of the electoral crisis. The state of exception was also reduced again yesterday for the "economy, tourism, and the general activities of the population." It was totally suspended in the departments of Francisco Morazan, La Paz, the municipality of San Pedro Sula (Cortes), and Tela (Atlantida). In other areas of the country such as Yoro, Colon (exception of Trujillo), Atlantida (exception of Tela), Comayagua (exception Siguatepeque), and Cortes (exception San Pedro Sula) from 10 pm to 5 am. 

Protests and Actions In Tegucigalpa & Around the Country

Indigenados or Indignant movement arrive to the U.S. Embassy. Picture from El Criterio. 

Indigenados or Indignant movement arrive to the U.S. Embassy. Picture from El Criterio. 

Last night, a section of the Indignados movement that formed when the social security (IHSS) scandal broke in 2015, marched with their torches to the front of the U.S. Embassy. There were approximately 1000 people which should not be taken as a sign that fewer people are coming out to protest. This group tends to just draw a specific crowd. Although I have not been able to confirm this, there were reports of actions in some other neighbourhoods in Tegucigalpa and around the country. 

The Alliance is calling for a large march in Tegucigalpa on Sunday at 11 am and encouraging people around the country to continue mobilizing particularly in their neighbourhoods and communities. The pot banging/noise making actions ("Cacerolazos") are dying down at least in Tegucigalpa because the state of exception was suspended but I believe they continue in some places around the country. 

Recent Human Rights Issues & Concerns

COFADEH's report from December 6 is a very important outline of the human rights abuses committed against anti-fraud protesters and civilians from November 30 to the date it was published. A lot of the people detained during the state of exception have been prosecuted and are being held in jails around the country. As far as I know, there hasn't been a major follow-up of these detentions, likely because its so difficult to know who is where and for what reason unless the detained people notify or are involved with a human rights organizations, movements or other organizations. 

The Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ) reported that the elite police unit, the COBRAS, military and other state security forces illegally raided MADJ's training and meeting center in San Juan Pueblo, Atlantida. The state security forces were looking for Martin Fernandez, a lawyer and MADJ leader who has received several threats, been attacked, and targeted over the last several years.

 

Day 2: Honduras Election Crisis

Polls closed at 4 pm yesterday and the Tribunal Suprema Electoral (TSE) unusually did not extend voting hours. Salvador Nasralla (Opposition Alliance) and Juan Orlando (national party) both declared themselves the Presidential winners around 7-7:30 pm-ish. By 1:30 am, over 8.5 hours after polls had closed, the TSE magistrates had not announced anything. Inside the TSE election headquarters, tons of people waited around with anticipation and suspicion that something really odd was going on. Many people told me that the TSE had never taken such a long time to announce election results and thought fraud was happening or results were coming in that the TSE magistrates did not expect. The situation was tense. People didn't know what was going on and it created a lot of confusion, mistrust, and speculation. At 11:30 pm, i was told that 73% of the vote tally sheets nationwide had been received and digitized by the TSE but still, no announcements. 

At midnight, Nasralla held a press conference declaring himself the Presidential winner. But still for an hour after that, TSE Magistrates stayed inside a meeting room likely delaying or trying to figure out how to make an announcement that JOH was losing based on preliminary vote tallies. At 1:30 am, JOH held a press conference to his diminished crowd saying that they were going to wait until all the tallies were in. At 1:40 am-ish, the TSE magistrates held a press conference saying that Nasralla was in the lead with 45.17% and JOH 40.21%. During the press conference, Opposition alliance supporters gathered outside the TSE headquarters chanting, dancing and celebrating. 

Apparently 90% of the vote tally sheets from urban areas have been counted and its expected that JOH is using the rest of the rural tally sheets yet to be counted to create doubt of Nasralla's 5% lead. 

After the TSE finished their press conference, there were lots of celebrations outside by Oposition Alliance supporters, mostly LIBRE folks. Then they started a caravan around many parts of the city until about 4 am. people came out of their houses to cheer the caravan on. 

The Alliance has called for a gathering/protest at 2 pm but that was announced before last night's preliminary results went out. Nothing yet about congressional seats which will be important to watch because it seems likely that between the National Party and Liberal Party (long standing allies), they may take a significant chunk (maybe 45%) of the congress. This is just speculation. Also, who knows what will happen between now and a few days from now, funny business is likely although many don't believe that the Nasralla victory is reversible at this point. 

See HSN's twitter: @hondurassol for constant updates

Day 4 Update: Honduran Election Crisis

An hour ago, people were being repressed again outside of INFOP, the location of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal's (TSE) warehouse where ballots are being counted in Tegucigalpa. According to a U.S. human rights delegation led by La Voz de los de Abajo, people were just hanging out when the gassing started. Last night, police and military used lots of tear gas to disperse a crowd after an almost armed confrontation between Mel Zelaya and Nasralla's body guards, and the Honduran police.

Around the country, people are protesting and blocking roads. Road blocks have been reported in La Ceiba (Sambo Creek), El Progreso, Tela, two in Colon, and Choluteca to name a few. Apparently one protest was repressed in Agua Blanca, department of Yoro. Social movements and groups around the country are putting out statements calling for an end and stop to Juan Orlando Hernandez's (JOH) attempt to impose his dictatorship (Check out HSN's Facebook for these statements).

Yesterday, Salvador Nasralla said in a press conference that the OAS negotiated a deal between him and JOH saying that they would both wait until all the vote tally sheets (actas) were counted. The agreement was signed around 3 pm yesterday. The OAS's attempts to "negotiate" a way out of this situation is ridiculous and a clear statement about what side they are on. It is reminiscent of the 2009 military coup when the OAS used negotiations between two sides to whitewash the coup and the excessive force and repression against the Honduran people that was occurred at the time of negotiations. The exact same thing is happening now. We have returned to the times of the coup and things are likely to get worse in the next few days. 

Nasralla has since backed out of yesterday's OAS agreement and calls for people to take to the streets to defend the vote, but this means repression and violence. At this point, it appears to be the only choice for Hondurans who once again are betrayed by the "international community" that throw around words like "democracy" "sovereignty" and "fair elections" like that is what is happening here. As excitement and hope that Nasralla won the elections turns into outrage and frustration, people will try and fight back and it won't turn out well for anyone. It's already starting to happen. 

The OAS, along with Canada and the US governments keep calling for Hondurans to wait and respect the vote counting but it's been 4 days! And the wait has only masked the true intentions of the OAS, US/Canadian govt which is permit fraud and manipulation of the election results to favor their candidate, JOH.

Shortly after Nasralla and JOH signed the OAS agreement, the TSE system was either hacked or intervened and it crashed. The Alianza said that altered actas and falsified actas without signatures from all representatives of the Sunday voting tables were being uploaded to the TSE that favor the National Party. This is what happened in 2013. Falsified actas were counted instead of physical and authentic actas and when contested by LIBRE in the Honduran courts after the elections, they were dismissed. 

I know people have been calling their reps, the US and Canadian embassies but we really need to keep it up. The TSE is expected to make an announcement today and it's becoming increasingly suspected that they will announce that JOH won the elections. Please do everything you can to make them pull support to the government.