Fraud Could Deny Honduran Voters’ Apparent Rejection of Unpopular Incumbent President
Interview with Alex Main, senior associate for International Policy at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, conducted by Scott Harris
Pollsters and pundits had predicted that the Honduras’ Nov. 26 presidential election would maintain the status quo, with incumbent conservative president Juan Orlando Hernandez easily winning re-election. But it appears that voters had a different outcome in mind. Opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla, one of the nation’s best-known television personalities, was holding a 5-point lead over Hernandez before the nation’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal stopped announcing vote totals with 57 percent of the ballots counted. Both candidates have claimed victory.
The tribunal’s decision to freeze the public vote count the day after the election generated suspicion that attempts were being made to manipulate the outcome. Nasralla ran as the candidate of the Alliance Against Dictatorship, a coalition formed with the leftist party of former President Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted in a U.S.-supported military coup in 2009.
Hernandez, a close ally of Washington, had been widely criticized for engineering the Supreme Court’s override of the Honduran Constitution’s ban on consecutive presidential terms, widespread corruption, human rights violations and the assassination of environmental activists, including Goldman prizewinner Berta Cáceres. Between The Line’s Scott Harris spoke with Alex Main, senior associate for International Policy at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, who assesses what may be a surprise outcome of the Honduran election and the danger of another military coup. [Rush transcript.]
ALEX MAIN: Nasralla is sort of a figure who is on the center-right. It’s not very clear. He’s not very clearly defined politically because he hasn’t really had much of a political career. He first ran for president in 2013. Before that, he’d never held an elected office. In 2013, he ran on basically an anti-corruption platform and in fact, the name of this party is “The Anti-Corruption Party.”
He did get a good amount of votes, especially for a first-time candidate in those elections. And afterwards, he sort of formed an informal alliance with the Libre party, which is a left-leaning party that is really sort of an off-shoot of the movement of resistance to Honduras’ 2009 coup. And so your listeners may remember that there was a military coup d’etat against Manuel Zelaya at the time. He was forced out of power at gunpoint, shipped off to Costa Rica and in the meantime you had a great deal of repression in Honduras.
But also, you had a huge movement, massive protests and a very organized movement that opposed the coup and that wanted to see as well a constituent assembly to sort of reform what a lot of people saw as a very rotten political system in Honduras. And out of this movement sprung a new political party which included a lot of members of a traditional party from the left-wing, the Liberal party. And that party was formed in 2011, and the head of that is the deposed president from 2009, President Manuel Zelaya. And so, that party is called Libre, or “Freedom,” and it joined in alliance with the Nasralla’s party, the anti-corruption party.
A few people thought they would be successful in part because the private media was universally against them, and favorable to the incumbent Juan Orlando Hernandez, of the National party – which is very pro-military, very conservative and really the biggest beneficiary of the coup politically and because of Juan Orlando Hernandez’s really complete control over the institutions, in particular the courts, and within the court system, the electoral authority and the TSE (Supreme Electoral Tribunal). It was believed that if Nasralla had any chance of winning, fraud would take place and it does seem that fraud probably has taken place, but that the margin of victory of Nasralla was so great that fraud couldn’t really make that difference.
But now, the big question is whether this coalition, which includes this left-wing party and this center-right party is going to hold together. Because they do indeed have different political programs and it will be interesting to see if in fact, Nasralla does end up being the winner of these elections. And we still have to wait for the TSE to announce the final results. There’s still a possibility of fraud occurring, but if that occurs, what sort of Cabinet is he going to have, and what Cabinet positions are Libre going to have? And what was he going to have? And also what would be the results of the congressional elections because those have taken place as well as the TSE has announced really very few results for the congressional races and if this coalition doesn’t have a majority in Congress, it’s going to be very difficult for them to govern.
BETWEEN THE LINES: What is the danger in your estimation of another military coup at the hands of the Honduran army? A second part of that question would be, what is the U.S. role here in this election if any, under the Trump administration given the history of U.S. backing under the Obama administration for the 2009 coup?
ALEX MAIN: Those are two excellent questions and I think they’re very, very linked. And that is because the U.S. provides a lot of training and lot of equipment and financial support to the Honduran security forces. When you ask whether or not there’s a possibility of a military coup, I would say that there is, certainly – especially, as the military is very opposed to the Libre party with Nasrallas’ victory – which can potentially be back in power in the government and the military won’t want to see that, and they may act again as they acted in 2009 to prevent that from happening.
But there, of course, the U.S. has a tremendous amount of leverage in terms of their relationship with the Honduran military. It’s often said in Honduras that no election result becomes official without the U.S. embassy basically recognizing the results of the election.
For more information, visit The Center of Economic and Policy Research at cepr.net; and Alex Main’s page at cepr.net/about-us/staff/alexander-main-senior-associate-international-policy.
A ‘Women’s Solidarity Network’ Could Provide Support for Victims of Sexual Harassment
Interview with Barbara Maclean, founder of the group Planning Beyond Capitalism, conducted by Scott Harris
The explosion of public accusations denouncing perpetrators of sexual harassment over recent weeks has provoked a national dialogue and debate on how society should address the ancient scourge of male sexual aggression and violence. The powerful men named have come from the worlds of movie making, media, business, sports and politics. While movie producer Harvey Weinstein was the subject of early attention for his long history of predatory behavior, soon other well-known men were named, including actors Kevin Spacey, talk show host Charlie Rose, comedian Louis C.K., Democratic Sen. Al Franken and Michigan Rep. John Conyers.
However, the well-documented charges of pedophilia leveled against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who professes to be a fundamentalist Christian, has exposed the selective way in which many political activists accept or reject credible charges of sexual misconduct made against their allies.
In this unique moment of collective awakening on sexual harassment, there have been very few concrete proposals on how society could address this age-old epidemic of male sexual coercion and bullying. One exception was a proposal made in an article titled, “Beyond Harvey Weinstein: What Can be Done?” written by socialist feminist Barbara Maclean, a founder of the group Planning Beyond Capitalism. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Maclean who discusses her proposal to form a ‘Women’s Solidarity Network,’ that could offer legal and educational assistance to groups of women combating sexual harassment and assault. [Rush transcript.]
I don’t want to take credit for this because I read a wonderful article by Jonathan Cooke in Dissident Voice. I don’t know if you all are familiar with him. If you’re not, you should check him out. He’s a wonderful journalist and what he proposed is that – and he was specifically speaking about Hollywood – that they form unions in Hollywood for actresses and actors at any stage in their career so that particularly these young actresses –the focus right now is on women. So, I’m not saying men have not been abused – they have and it needs to be addressed. But I think you know, to get a framework around women, if there was some kind of union organization that could work with women so that when they had complaints, they had a place to go. They could register the complaints; the union could collect those complaints, put them together into a group, and then take some kind of class action, to file a class action suit against this individual. I think this is brilliant. I think it’s wonderful. But I think it needs to go further. I think as we’re finding out, this happening not just in Hollywood, it’s happening in the Supreme Court, in the White House, in tech, it’s happening everywhere. And it’s happening in much smaller businesses.
So, there needs to be something beyond simply beyond a union for women in say, Hollywood, or the arts. So, we need to start looking in a larger context. How can we protect all women? And if, instead of having a women’s union, we frame it as a women’s solidarity network. And this is something that all women could get behind. And there could be chapters all over the country. My hope would be that groups like say, Southern Poverty Law Center, other legal aid groups could work with these women to educate them about their rights, and when necessary to actually file lawsuits on their behalf. So that’s kind of like the beginning of where this came from.
BETWEEN THE LINES: In your article you talk about the explosion of activism that we saw back in 2011 around the Occupy Wall Street movement. That was the most spontaneous movement that erupted across the country, in fact, in places all over the world. Do you have any hope that your idea of a women’s solidarity network could take off in a similar way, or something like this project – a more difficult task that would take a lot more effort to push to launch in a way that will be long-lasting?
BARBARA MACLEAN: I’m not sure. One of the things that I’ve thought about is starting small and simply starting a Facebook group. A Twitter account to see how many women would want to get on board with this. I’ve watched Black Lives Matter. You know, that was initiated in Oakland, California, where I live, by a very small group of women sitting around after the last police attack on a young black man. And they said, “Enough! This is enough!” And they formed this. There were maybe less half a dozen of them. And look what’s happened to them now. You say, “Black Lives Matter,” everybody knows what you’re talking. But the fact is, that took off like wildfire. How wonderful if this could take off like wildfire. These types of stratifications. These types of inequalities with women go back before our lifetimes. For generations, it was something that all of us, all of us simply accepted. And frequently just laughed off, and that’s how men are, and that’s how it is. And you know, we just kind of have to put up with it.
So my hope is that all of those women who have put #MeToo sometimes told their stories, sometimes not. That they see that there could be some kind of organization that could help fight this.
U.S. Political Prisoner Leonard Peltier Delivers Passionate Thanksgiving Message
Wampanoag elder Bert Waters reading Leonard Peltier’s annual letter at the Day of Mourning Thanksgiving Day event at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, recorded and produced by Melinda Tuhus
Thanksgiving Day this year marked the 48th annual Day of Mourning on Cole’s Hill overlooking Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Mass., where the Pilgrim myth got its start. The gathering is organized by the United American Indians of New England and featured speakers from Labrador to Puerto Rico to Guatemala. Those addressing the gathering paid tribute to American Indian Movement co-founder Dennis Banks, who died on Oct. 29 at age 80.
Part of the yearly commemoration includes the reading of a letter from indigenous political prisoner Leonard Peltier, who has been incarcerated for the past 41 years. He was convicted of killing two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Lakota Sioux reservation in South Dakota in 1975, although no evidence links him to the crime and he has always maintained his innocence.
At last year’s event, Peltier’s letter expressed the hope that President Barack Obama would commute his sentence, especially after the prosecutor in Peltier’s case recommended he be freed. However, Obama declined to do so, and there’s no chance of a commutation under President Donald Trump. But his short letter, read this year by Wampanoag elder Bert Waters, reflects no bitterness and shows that Peltier‘s sense of humor and love for the people remain intact. Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus was at the Day of Mourning gathering where she recorded and produced this segment featuring the reading of Peltier’s letter.
BERT WATERS: Greetings my friends, relatives and supporters, once again I can’t tell you how much I am so honored that you would want to hear my words, or should I say, read my words.
You can’t imagine the thoughts that go through my head at times, when everything is still and quiet in the night, when I lie there staring into the dark with daydreams of how things could possibly be better. I know I’ve said this once before, in some past statement, years back, however it comes to my thoughts how the term “day of mourning” makes me think of the reverse, as in “the morning of the new day” and how one term refers to those caught up in a deep sorrow and how the other term is a promise, of a new beginning and the rising of the sun. In our traditions and culture, most tribal nations did a mourning period of one year for the deceased. However, for us in our time, we are continually losing our people, and especially our young people and our women, who continually disappear with no trace.
Our lands are constantly violated. The air, the water, the soil, all of nature is screaming against the injustice that is continually perpetrated by those who worship money. So, in essence, I want to say in the loudest voice and the most sincere voice I can possibly speak – we don’t have a day of mourning, we have generations of mourning, year after year. I don’t know what I can do further from where I’m at, but in whatever way possible I want to add my scream to the scream of the earth and the scream of my people for justice.
These ecological disasters caused by the wealthy must stop. Those people who are destroying the earth must realize that they ultimately will destroy themselves also. I know that many of you have taken part in the prayers and vigils and stood strong in the face of wrongful beatings and shootings and various other forms of violence, and I commend you for your bravery. Having said that, I want to encourage you to move forward to a new day. With each new day we need to rise to the occasion and do what we can to right what is wrong (applause).
Our enemy is not any person of particular color. Our enemy is those who are ignorant of the reality that we are all intricate parts of the whole circle, the circle of life. We must arm ourselves with the knowledge it takes to bring attention to the wrongness of their thinking, the wrongness of their exploitation of our Mother Earth, and wrongness of their mistreatment of the indigenous peoples throughout our lands. I would encourage you to mourn, if that is your way, to whatever length of time that is required by your teachings. However, I sincerely encourage each and every one of you to take it upon yourself to become a warrior of one. Educate yourself. Find the knowledge it takes to survive and thrive in a good way, and to confront the ignorance of those who are destroying the natural. Confront them in such a way that they will come to know that to destroy the earth, to destroy our people, to continue to ignore the philosophy and teachings that have allowed this land to exist since the beginning of time in a beautiful natural existence, they will ultimately destroy themselves and all life.
Perhaps I’ve said too much. I don’t know what your agenda is today (audience laughs). Obviously, I have more time than you (audience laughs). I want to say in closing though that I love you, I love you wherever you are, I love you and I love what you want. I love that you want to make a difference, and I will pray for you always. I further want to say you are making a difference. You have made a difference. Power to the people! Power to the earth!
This week’s summary of under-reported news
Compiled by Bob Nixon
Conservative billionaire Sebastian Piñera won the opening round of Chile’s presidential election to replace current President Michelle Bachelet, who was barred from running for another term. In mid-December Piñera will face off against Socialist Alejandro Guillier, who has the support of Bachelet’s center left coalition. (“Chile Election: Conservative Piñera to Face Socialist Guillier in Run-Off,” BBC News, Nov. 20, 2017; “In Latin America, No More Women Presidents – for Now,” Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 17, 2017)
In January 1997, Princess Diana walked through an active minefield in war torn Angola to raise awareness about the threat posed by landmines. 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the international land mine treaty signed by 163 nations. (“Land-Mine Casualties Show Signs of Global Decline,” Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 27, 2017)
On the eve of Thanksgiving, Federal Judge Lee Yeakel overruled Texas Senate Bill 8, which prevented doctors from performing certain second trimester abortions such as dilatation and extraction. Judge Yeakel ruled the law placed a burden on women to exercise their reproductive rights, especially since the law required a risky procedure to first stop a fetus’ heart. The ruling was a major victory for abortion rights activists and Planned Parenthood. (“Federal Judge Strikes down Texas Abortion Ban,” CNN, Nov. 24, 2017)