Honduran unrest causes concern for students

Honduran students are concerned about much more than voter fraud as the country remains in unrest after the inauguration of Juan Orlando Hernandez on Jan. 27. Violent protests and marches occurred during Hernandez’s inauguration.

Despite the peace marches, protests and the alleged ‘theft of the country’s presidential vote’ after the outcome of the 2014 election, the results remain the same. In preparation for continual uprisings, 6,000 police and soldiers guarded the National Stadium in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where the inauguration was held.

An online edition of The Telegraph reported that the courts’ final tally left the two main competitors, Hernandez of the National party and Xiomara Castro of the LIBRE party, with 37 percent and 29 percent of the vote, respectively.

The new president was not greeted with open arms as it resulted in numerous LIBRE party protests, led by Manuel Zelaya, former president and husband of running mate Castro. Eighteen was the estimated death toll in the run-up to the election.

“Even though I love my country, we can’t hide that it is not perfect,” said sophomore and Honduras native Belinda Henriquez.

Henriquez described the voting system is fraudulent and manipulative.

“People that may even be dead, the government can use their I.D.’s and count their votes. Since I am not in my country they probably used my identity to cast ‘my vote’ even though I didn’t have the opportunity,” said Henriquez.

Altered tally sheets, dead people included in the voter registry and inadequate monitoring of polling stations all add to the people’s accusations of election fraud.

“It is easy for these politicians to take advantage of the people and even try to buy votes from the people in the lower class,” said Daniel Madrid, sophomore and Honduras native. “This causes everyone to feel that their votes did not count.”

With the inauguration finalized, the fear of a coup d’état similar to the one in 2009 begins to stir in the minds of Hondurans.

“One thing I worry about is going through the coup d’état again, which will cause the country to go through an economic crisis similar to what occurred with Manuel Zelaya,” said Henriquez.

One of her biggest fears is that the coup d’état could reoccur while she is in Honduras, and she will be unable to return to the United States to finish her studies.

“When the first coup d’état happened the United States cancelled everyone’s visas and travel between countries,” said Henriquez.
Henriquez and Madrid both described the LIBRE party as gang members.

“I am also worried for my family back home in regards to the LIBRE Party. Even though the party claims they are trying to keep peace, they actually just do whatever they want on the streets,” said Henriquez, whose family lives in Tegucigalpa.

She worries that her family could get caught in the middle of a fight or if the economy goes south it could take a toll on finances for school.

After swearing in, President Hernandez said “the party is over for criminals,” and added that he would allow “zero tolerance on crime,” in the coming months, stated Channel NewsAsia. Madrid said it is hard to trust politicians in Honduras to actually benefit the country when most only want to gain money and power.

Both Madrid and Henriquez worry for the government in their home country.

“My hope is for more transparency in the whole Honduran government. The whole structure of our government needs to be cleaned, and we want a president that can be trusted,” said Henriquez.