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Scholars Call on U.S. to Investigate Honduran Presidential Election

Supporters of presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla block a road in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. (Fernando Antonio / AP)

Honduras is in a state of crisis. The Central American country held a widely anticipated presidential election Nov. 26, but a winner wasn’t formally declared until Sunday. Now, prominent scholars and activists, concerned about the integrity of the election process, are calling for a new general election.

American ally and incumbent Juan Orlando Hernández was declared the winner Sunday, instantly prompting allegations of election fraud and international concern over the country’s democratic process. Honduras, already plagued with civil unrest in the weeks following the election, is now embroiled in violent protests in which more than 20 people have died.

Many Hondurans view Hernández’s victory as unjust because his party, the Partido Nacional, controls the government bodies in charge of declaring the election winner. In the days following the election, Hernández appeared to be losing.

“One of the four magistrates on the electoral tribunal conceded that [Hernández’s opponent Salvador] Nasralla’s advantage appeared to be ‘irreversible,’ given the distribution of votes. But then the tribunal delayed announcing anything for a day and a half,” The New Yorker explains. “Its chief magistrate, a longtime Partido Nacional official, appeared before the cameras to offer an explanation for the delay, declaring that slightly more than a million votes still hadn’t been counted. They were being delivered, by hand, to the tribunal’s headquarters in the capital, Tegucigalpa.”

Supporters of Hernández’s opponent, Salvador Nasralla, are clearly discouraged by the election process and outcome, and are calling on Honduras to hold a new round of elections. Nasralla himself alleges election fraud, labeling Hernández an “impostor” and warning that Honduras is at risk of a civil war if the election is not redone. The Organization of American States, a prominent global organization, has also expressed concern over the election process and called for a new election.

As Truthdig columnist Sonali Kolhatkar recently noted, the election offered many Hondurans hope that, eight years after a U.S.-backed coup, the country was developing into a successful democracy. But this week’s violence and the potential failings of Honduran political institutions show otherwise.

And while the U.S. State Department has seemingly declared its support for Hernández’s victory, prominent scholars and activists working in the U.S. also hold concerns about the integrity of the election process.

An open letter signed by 252 university professors and Ph.D. scholars asks the U.S. embassy in Honduras “to call for a full and independent investigation into the irregularities that occurred before, during, and after the elections.”

Read the full letter below.

Emma Niles
Assistant Editor
Emma Niles, an assistant editor at Truthdig, graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a degree in political science. She has worked for the National Women’s Law Center and Ms. Magazine.…
Emma Niles

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