Day 13 (afternoon) & 14 - 2017 Election Crisis Update

- Monday, December 11 (afternoon) & Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 

On Monday, December 11, the Opposition Alliance held an important press conference that outlined in great detail how the Electoral Tribunal, President David Matamoros and the National Party committed fraud in the elections. There was a significant emphasis on the role of the U.S. interfering to cover-up the fraud. Manuel Zelaya made several references to the "Fulton actas" which are named after the U.S. Charge d'Affaires Heide Fulton because of Fulton's role in legitimizing their validity while ignoring wide-spread evidence or claims of alterations and duplication of these 4,753 actas. These final 4,753 vote tally sheets are likely the last batch of actas that will be reviewed by the TSE. It is expected that the TSE will make an announcement about the results of the elections without attending to demands for recounts and examination of the fraudulent actas. In order words, the Fulton actas will be *absolutely key* in legitimizing fraud and JOH's unannounced, as of yet, victory. 

Opposition Alliance Presidential candidate, Salvador Nasralla presenting at press conference on Monday, December 11. Photo by karen spring

Opposition Alliance Presidential candidate, Salvador Nasralla presenting at press conference on Monday, December 11. Photo by karen spring

In addition, the Alliance went through six major points that extensively outline suspicious activities, unexplained and impossible claims being used to justify JOH's winning trend, and provide clear examples of altered vote tally sheets (actas) and falsified documents. A summary of these will be posted later this afternoon. 

On the same day, Monday, December 11th, the social movement participated in a National Stoppage (paro nacional). I previously sent out a list of where some of the actions were held  but according to what the HSN has collected/heard of through other sources, there were 40 actions in 10 departments around the country: Comayagua, Intibuca, Yoro, Santa Barbara, Francisco Morazan, Cortes, Choluteca, Colon, Atlantida, Copan.

Repression and evictions were reported at various road blockades and protests around the country. To name a few, there were reports of police beating, tear gassing and firing live rounds at protesters in Santa Barbara. The HSN posted a video of the repression in La Ceibita in Santa Barbara on our Facebook. In Choluteca, a man was injured by bullets fired by state security forces and two people were detained.  

protester shot in Choluteca during protests on monday, December 11. photographer unknown. 

protester shot in Choluteca during protests on monday, December 11. photographer unknown. 

On Tuesday, December 12, the Alliance held another press conference where they officially gave the OAS Electoral Observation delegation 14,364 of the electronic actas in the party's possession. The letter that included in the package given to the mission, also highlights other TSE irregularities. Since the Alliance and the Liberal Party have both made claims and presented proof of alterations of several actas, these copies will assist the observation missions in comparing what the Alliance has in their possession with what the Liberal, National party and TSE have in theirs. It is unclear whether and how much the observation missions will review the different set of actas presented by different parties and the TSE.  

In the morning and afternoon on Tuesday, once again, people all over the country took to the streets and blocked roads. The Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations (COPINH) denounced that one of their buses had been stopped by Military Police and briefly detained on the road between the cities of La Esperanza and Siguatepeque. COPINH members were taken off the bus, required to show their ID cards to the Military Police, and who then took pictures of the cards. COPINH's full declaration about the harassment and detentions can be found here.

Brutal repression was reported in El Progreso where National police shot tear gas at protesters, beat people, fired live bullets, and went into houses around the blockade and dragged people (mostly women) out of their houses to detain them. As of late yesterday afternoon, there were still 11 people detained, and 3 women were being held at the station although not under arrest, but as "witnesses" (we are still unclear what that means). Two of the 11 detainees were under age. 

protest and road blockade in el progreso, yoro. photo credit: unknown

protest and road blockade in el progreso, yoro. photo credit: unknown

On the same day (Tuesday) in the evening, the LIBRE party held a press conference to communicate to the Honduran people the following points: 1. Calling for unity; 2. Immediate and permanent mobilization to defend the votes for and victory of the Alliance; 3. National mobilization including blocking all "public roads" called for Friday, December 15 starting at 6 am; 4. Rejecting the interference of the U.S. government that uses electoral fraud and maintains impunity to promote its interests; 5. Permanent support for Coordinator, Manuel Zelaya; 6. Support to President elect Salvador Nasralla, the true winner of the elections.

Also, yesterday at the same time as LIBRE published its communique, Zelaya and the LIBRE party published another letter to Nasralla. The letter states the LIBRE party's "unrestricted support in the defense of the electoral victory" of Nasralla; denounces once again, the interference by the U.S. Embassy to prop JOH up as the election winner; and puts at Nasralla's disposal, "the entire structure of the LIBRE party on a national level to openly confront through struggle, the imposition of the bipartisan dictatorship." The letter also reiterates LIBRE's call and commitment to permanent mobilization/protest “until the regime falls.”

As many of you can imagine reading both the communique and the letter, LIBRE and the Alliance seem to be literally saying ‘this is it.' This message from LIBRE and the Alliance comes at a time when the TSE has been making public statements estimating when results will be announced. So far, TSE President David Matamoros has stated that the latest possible date to announce results is December 23. It is worth mentioning again that the TSE has to resolve 150 “impugnaciones” or motions to challenge/annul the results, and that the TSE does not seem open to attending to the additional demands of the Alliance or the Liberal Party. It is believed that the final actions by the TSE are about superficially fulfilling the demands of the OAS, a strategy that aims to give the TSE and its President, an image of legitimacy and cooperation. 

Manuel Zelaya: U.S. Pressuring to Divide the Opposition Alliance

The following are the translations of public communications between Manuel Zelaya, General Coordinator of the Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship, and the Alliance's President Candidate and President elect, Salvador Nasralla. The first is a letter written by Zelaya to Nasralla that refers to the role of the U.S. in pressure to divide the Alliance. The second is Nasralla's public response. 

Many international press interpreted the open letter as a clear split between Zelaya and Nasralla. Others took it as a direct, public challenge by Zelaya to Nasralla to be accountable for any decision that he makes, while letting the public know that Nasralla is being pressured by the U.S Embassy. The day after Zelaya's letter was published, Nasralla and Zelaya appeared together in a march in Tegucigalpa. 

The letter also directly quotes OAS representatives who, not surprisingly and not for the first time, attempts to link Zelaya to Hugo Chavez. The statement is yet another reminder of how much the 2017 electoral crisis and fraud is in the eye of the  Latin American storm so often polarized by discussions of socialism versus capitalism; anti-US versus pro-US; pro-Chavez versus anti-Chavez. etc. discourses. This, of course, was a strategy and tactic used after the 2009 military coup against Zelaya who was constantly compared to Chavez in Venezuela, along with the accusation that Zelaya was seeking a second term in office. There has been little to no concern by the U.S. and the OAS that President Juan Orlando Hernandez is indeed doing the exact same thing by running in the 2017 elections as a President candidate despite it being ban by the Honduran constitution. 

nasralla and Zelaya together at an alliance press conference on monday, november 11, 2017

nasralla and Zelaya together at an alliance press conference on monday, november 11, 2017

 

Communication One: Zelaya to Nasralla

From Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales’ Office
Tegucigalpa, M.D.C. December 9th of 2017

US DELEGATES MAKE PRESSURE TO DIVIDE THE ALLIANCE
OF OPPOSITION AGAINST THE DICTATORSHIP

 

Comrades; Honduran people:

I address you in accordance with truth, to communicate that spokespeople from the OAS – the Organization of American States- has made recommendations that the Candidate and President Elect, Salvador Alejandro César Nasralla, “disengages completely from former President Zelaya because he’s a supporter of Chávez and promotes Democratic Socialism”.

US Chargé d’Affaires in Honduras Heide Fulton, has worked during the last forty-eight in order to avail the counting of the fraudulent urns (4753), in spurious recounting, vote by vote, of electoral documents that all Honduran people know have been adulterated in favor of the National Party’s illegal candidate.

I reiterate that this Alliance, built through a gigantic popular effort, has won the elections; defeating the bipartisanship that has prevailed in our Homeland for over one hundred years, however they refuse to hand over the Presidency of the Republic to Salvador Nasralla, who has proposed changes such as lowering fuel prices and energy costs; eliminating tolls, actions that directly impact North American interests.

It is the people’s duty to protest in streets to defend the Alliance’s and Salvador Nasralla’s victory, therefore I call for all of our efforts, to set aside all egoism in lieu of our Country, to fight every day without rest, and to deliver all our strength; until the last consequences.

I personally reiterate that I will never betray my principles and socialist democratic convictions, but I assume the historical responsibility of releasing Candidate Salvador Alejandro César Nasralla, so he makes the decisions that best represent his interest as President Elect.

Ever onward to victory!

José Manuel Zelaya Rosales
Former Constitutional President of the Republic
General Coordinator

Communication Two

To the Honduran people and the militancy of the Alliance of Opposition against the Dictatorship:

I would like to refer to the patriotic letter wrote by the Alliance’s Coordinator, my friend President Mel Zelaya.

I agree with his analysis that we have democratically won the urns and Honduran people chose me as their president. Now we have to fight for the acknowledgement of this triumph and it will be the Honduran People who will make their will prevail.

I also acknowledge that this victory couldn’t have been possible without the vision of President Mel Zelaya and the national structure for his Party Libertad y Refundación. I also declare that the party PINU-SD, by participating in the Alliance against the Dictatorship, has played a historic role that the country demands. Through this letter I express my most profound gratitude to LIBRE and PINU for the triumph obtained on November 26th.

I wish to clarify to the Honduran People and international community that as President of Hondurans I will be the person in charge of the reigns of Honduras and it will be my democratic conviction as standard bearer in the struggle against corruption that will oversee the interest of the Honduran people that chose me and this will characterize my presidency. I reiterate that I will surround myself of the best Honduran men and women and I will not fail in my duty to the country and the fulfillment of my campaign’s promises.

I ask the Organization of American States, the European Union in Honduras and the US Embassy in Honduras to demand the Supreme Electoral Tribunal to comply with the measures set by them and us which they aren’t currently fulfilling, in an attempt to rescue the current electoral process. In the case of not doing so in accordance to the two opposition parties legitimately representing the majority of the Honduran people, I ask that they do not only disqualify such questioned Supreme Electoral Tribunal to issue a declaratory of winner but also to recommend that the process be repeated.

Patriotically,

SALVADOR NASRALLA

Candidate Winner Presidential Election

Honduras 2017

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