Soldiers are deployed across Honduras as the coup-installed regime holds presidential elections Nov. 29 that the civil resistance has pledged to boycott. The days leading up to the polls have seen numerous instances of violence and repression. Ángel Fabricio Salgado Hernández, 32, is in critical condition after soldiers fired on his car at close range and with no warning or order to stop at a checkpoint near the headquarters of military high command at Comayagüela Nov. 27. Salgado lost control of the vehicle when he was hit, crashing into a taxi and injureing several bystanders, including 45-year-old woman, who was also hit by a stray bullet. She is now also hospitalized in serious condition. Amnesty International is calling on the Honduran Human Rights Prosecutor to urgently investigate the incident. (Honduras en Resistencia, Nov. 29; Vos el Soberano, AI, Nov, 28)
On Nov. 28, soldiers and National Police units raided the offices of the Alternative Community Marketing Network (COMAL), a coalition of 42 small-scale farming and women’s organizations from throughout Honduras. The offices, in Siguatepeque, Comayagua department, were ransacked—the door broken down, windows smashed, computers seized and staff menaced at gunpoint. The soldiers and police only showed a search order 20 minutes into the raid; it apparently made reference to supposed COMAL plans to disrupt the elections. (AFP, Nov. 30; Xinhua, Nov. 29; Rights Action, Nov. 28)
Also surrounded by military troops are the central offices of the beverage workers union STIBYS in Tegucigalpa; the INHESCO community development group in Copán, and several campesino collectives across the country, including the Guadalupe Carney community in Silín, Colón, and Colonia La Paz, in La Lima, Cortés. A bomb attack at the Women’s Rights Center in San Pedro Sula fortunately resulted in no casualties. (National Front of Resistance Against the Coup, Nov. 29)
There is also an ongoing wave of small-scale bomb attacks against targets supportive of the regime—which may be the work of provocateurs. On Nov. 22, a bomb left under a car exploded outside an evangelical church in the Tegucigalpa district of Las Colínas, only causing damage to the car. (AFP, Nov. 22)
Arbitrary detainments also continue. On Nov. 26, Merlin Eguigure, coordinator of the Visitacion Padilla Women’s Movement, was arrested and charged with defacing property and membership in an illegal organization when police found paint in her car at a checkpoint. Eguigure says she was using the paint to make banners for the International Day Against Violence Against Women. She is still being held. (Rights Action, Nov. 27)
Some 30,000 soldiers and police officers are deployed across Honduras for the vote. Many Latin American governments, including regional leaders Brazil and Argentina, say they will not recognize the results and are at least implicitly backing ousted President Manuel Zelaya’s call for a boycott. “I believe that tomorrow a lack of voter participation and rejection of dictatorship will prevail,” Zelaya said Nov. 28. “It will speak by itself. Do not go with the results given by the dictator Micheletti.” (CNN, Nov. 29)
The Honduran media report that Israel has become the fifth country to officially announce that it will recognize the results, following the US, Peru, Panama and Costa Rica. “The government of Israel hopes that the voting would go on in a calm atmosphere and, in this case, it will recognize its results and the legitimacy of the elected president,” Israel’s ambassador to Honduras, Eliahu Lîpez, was quoted as saying. (RIA-Novosti, Nov, 29)
There has been conflicting information as to whether Israel has maintained diplomatic ties with the coup regime.
De facto President Roberto Micheletti announced Nov. 19 that he would step down before the elections. (NYT, Nov. 19) He has not done so. Casting a vote in his hometown of El Progreso, told the press, “Hondurans have not paid attention to the fear that some bombs tried to arouse, here is the people ofall sectors voting.” He urged Honduran “not to have fear, the authorities have given the guaranties, the Armed Forces and the police, of this day being calm, there will be peace and protection for everybody.”
He also said that he will respect the decision taken by the National Congress on Dec. 2, when the body is scheduled to vote on the restitution of the ousted Zelaya. (Xinhua, Nov. 30)
The internationally-brokered political pact that called for the vote implicitly stipulated that Zelaya be restored prior to the election. The presidential transition is to take place in January.
See our last post on Honduras.