The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Dan Beeton, 202-239-1460

Honduran Elections Marred by Police Violence, Censorship, International Non-Recognition, CEPR Co-Director Says

Elections Won't Resolve Political Crisis; Democracy Must Be Restored Before Free Elections Can Be Held


Elections conducted in a
climate of fear, human rights violations, and international
non-recognition won't resolve the political crisis in Honduras, said Mark
, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy

"Only a few governments that the U.S. State Department can heavily
influence will recognize these elections," said Weisbrot. "The rest of
the world recognizes that you cannot carry out free or fair elections
under a dictatorship that has overthrown the elected President by force
and used violence, repression, and media censorship against political
opponents for the entire campaign period leading up the vote, including
election day."

In Tegucigalpa, the Washington-based human rights organization Center
for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) noted:
"On election day, November 29, there were a number of incidents that
confirmed the climate of repression in which the electoral process took
place, which represented the consolidation of the coup d'etat of June

CEJIL described "a climate of harassment, violence, and violation of
the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly" on
election day, and called for the release of people arrested by security

Amnesty International issued a press
noting that authorities detained various individuals under
a decree prohibiting gatherings of more than four people, some of whom
have been charged with terrorism, and called for the identities and
whereabouts of those detained to be revealed. "Justice seems to have
been absent also on Election Day in Honduras," Javier Zuniga, head of
an Amnesty International delegation in Honduras, said. "It is therefore
essential the whereabouts of all people detained are made public and
all incidents of abuse, investigated. The rule of law must fully be

The election day was marred by reports of police violence and
intimidation, including a crackdown
on a peaceful march
in San Pedro Sula where marchers were
tear-gassed, beaten, and detained. Authorities also shot
a man in the head
at a checkpoint on the eve of the elections, and
raided the offices and homes of various civil society groups, including
a Quaker
agricultural cooperative
. Opposition broadcasters had their signals
, and the authorities threatened
criminal charges
for anyone advocating a boycott of the election.

Weisbrot noted that the elected President, Manuel Zelaya, still had
nearly two months left in his term, and called for his restoration
along with a democratic government that could hold free and fair
elections. He noted that all of the major organizations that observe
international elections, including the Organization of American States,
European Union, and the Carter Center, had refused to send observer
delegations to this election.

"First, you need to restore democracy, human rights, and civil
liberties, which were violated throughout the campaign period,"
Weisbrot said. "Then there can be a legitimate election with official
international observer delegations. You can't have free elections under
a dictatorship."

The level of voter turnout appears to be in dispute; it clearly was
lower than in past elections, but there are no reliable numbers
available yet. The Washington
and leading Honduran newspaper El
reported that while Honduras' Supreme Electoral Tribunal
(TSE) cites a figure of 61. 86 percent voter participation, the
independent group Fundacion Hagamos Democracia stated that the number
of voters was much lower - only 47.6 percent.

"Clearly the allegations made by the U.S. State Department regarding
voter turnout have no factual basis," Weisbrot said, noting that the
State Department claimed that "turnout appears to have exceeded that of
the last presidential election."

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.

(202) 293-5380