The first 100 days of Honduran president Xiomara Castro’s administration have exposed the complex situation facing Honduras. Internal conflicts within the president’s party and the political alliance that won the elections last November have hampered real change. Although Castro has kept some of her promises, the country’s structural problems are holding her back in many ways. Un met campaign commitments loom over the first female president of Honduras, including her promises made to women.
Shortly after his extradition to the United States on a DEA plane, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York released its indictment of the former president of Honduras. The indictment alleges that, in addition to drug trafficking and firearms possession, the former president received bribes from Mexican drug trafficker Joaquín “El Chapo” Gúzman, committed fraud in the 2013 and 2017 elections, and enlisted the support of other former presidents to facilitate drug trafficking in Honduras. A U.S. Justice Department judge remanded the former president in custody pending his hearing on May 10.
On June 3, 2021, U.S. president Joe Biden announced that fighting corruption would be a key objective of his administration. Soon after, various U.S. government departments and agencies began to quickly expand their efforts to combat corruption at home and abroad. President Biden’s anti-corruption strategy could very well color his country’s relationship with President Xiomara Castro’s administration and determine whether Honduras can become a strategic partner for the U.S. in the region.
Authorities seize 16 cars, 33 properties, 8 businesses belonging to former Honduran president and family
Translated on April 20 | A judge authorized the seizure of 33 properties, eight businesses, 16 vehicles, and other financial assets from former president Juan Orlando Hernández’s family. However, this represents less than half of Hernández’s $7.8 million net worth.
Recent news reports said that the former first lady sought to protect some of their wealth by transferring US$2.44 million in personal assets to a local bank, allegedly to repay a debt. This asset transfer temporarily prevented the Justice Ministry from seizing these assets, while prosecutors investigate whether the bank and Ana García de Hernández acted in good faith.
On March 16, after a judge authorized the extradition of former President Juan Orlando Hernández to the United States on drug trafficking and weapons charges, Hernández sat down in the Supreme Court president’s chair and began to record a video. The incident did not sit well with the Special Commission on Extradition of the National Congress, which had met in the same room a day earlier with several Supreme Court judges, including the president of that body, Rolando Argueta Pérez.
More than a month after Hondurans elected their first female president, her administration done little for gender issues. The mostly male Castro cabinet now has to live up to its campaign promises to reduce femicide, decriminalize three grounds for abortion, and approve the use of emergency contraceptive pills, banned since the 2009 coup d’état.
Ex-president Juan Orlando Hernández (2014-2022) was arrested at his home in Tegucigalpa and taken to the police special forces headquarters after the United States requested his extradition on drug trafficking charges.
Legislators from the faction supporting Luis Redondo as president of the National Congress met on February 2 to vote on several laws that fulfill some of President Xiomara Castro’s campaign promises. A law proposed by Representative Rasel Tomé condemning the coup that deposed Manuel Zelaya 12 years earlier was approved, and includes amnesty provisions for those that defend national sovereignty, land and water sources. It also protects public officials from prosecution for corruption-related crimes committed from 2006 to 2009.
Former Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández, repeatedly accused of having direct ties to drug traffickers, became a representative to the Central American Parliament in a virtual swearing-in ceremony on January 27. This granted him immunity from prosecution and extradition. A few days earlier, Representative Norma Torres of California had sent a letter to the United States Department of Justice asking for the immediate extradition of Hernández for drug trafficking.
Competing boards of directors of the National Congress were sworn in on January 23 in Honduras. One was elected by a group of 79 legislators who met offsite, 30 kilometers from the National Congress’s chambers. The other board was elected by 50 members of Congress who met in a legislative chamber with no lighting. Some political analysts say the first board was legally elected, but the second one is backed by president-elect Xiomara Castro. The dispute will now have to be sorted out by the nation’s constitutional court.
It has been almost two years since Honduras’ education ministry suspended classroom schooling following the first detected cases of COVID-19 in March 2020. The pandemic
The first migrant caravan for the year departed from the San Pedro Sula bus terminal in Honduras on January 15. Almost half are Nicaraguans.
Preliminary results announced by Honduras’ National Electoral Commission (CNE) are that Xiomara Castro of the Libre Party obtained 53.44% of the votes.
These results are based on just 16% of the votes.
In second place, for president, was Nasry Asfura, with 34% of the vote.
As the country gets ready to vote in a few days, pre-election political violence in Honduras is surging compared to the 2017 general elections. Social organizations argue this harms the whole population, not just the candidates for political office.
It has been a year since hurricanes Eta and Iota devastated parts of Honduras and Central America. Especially hard hit were four municipalities which are led by mayors now looking to be reelected by the very constituents they have neglected. Contracorriente visited La Lima, where many people still live without permanent housing, jobs, or stable incomes. Some have tried to rebuild their homes with scraps of discarded building materials.
Labor union leaders at a press conference denounced the development of Ciudad Morazán, an Employment and Economic Development Zone (ZEDE) in the northern Honduran city of Choloma, Cortés.
Early on October 14, eleven buses carrying migrants arrived at the Guatemala-Honduras border. They had been deported by plane from the United States to Mexico, and then put on buses for the long journey home. No one from the Honduran government was there to record their arrival. According to non-governmental organizations that help deportees at the border, between 250 and 450 deportees have been arriving every night since mid-September.
Just five days after the Pandora Papers were circulated in Honduras, the National Congress convened to amend the Money Laundering Law, despite protests by opposition legislators.
In an interview with Contracorriente, Eduardo Facussé, president of the Cortés Chamber of Commerce and Industry, talked about the country’s political outlook ahead of the November 2021 elections, and gave his thoughts on Employment and Economic Development Zones (ZEDEs).
Cryptocurrencies are gaining traction in a number of countries including El Salvador, which recently authorized its use as legal tender. Economist Julio Raudales says that short-term adoption in Honduras is unlikely because the country “does not have the [necessary] financial or political conditions.”
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights opposes unlimited presidential reelection limits on the grounds that it violates the American Convention and the American Declaration. Dr. Joaquín Mejía says that the Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of this practice should be criminally investigated, and that President Juan Orlando Hernández’s reelection was illegitimate. Mejia believes that Honduras’ Supreme Court should reverse this ruling and reestablish presidential term limits.
Employment and Economic Development Zones (ZEDE) are proliferating in Honduras. Just three months before the November general elections, three political parties are proclaiming their opposition to the ZEDEs, but their plans to abolish them depend on winning the presidency and control of the National Congress.
People are increasingly denouncing the National Party’s politicization of vaccinations in Honduras. These complaints not only criticize the national government, but also some mayors who are taking advantage of the situation to gain favor among the electorate and garner more votes in the November general elections.
A two-year-old Honduran boy was found abandoned in Mexico on June 28. He was traveling with his father, a 27-year-old farmer who was barely making ends meet back home. No one knows how they were separated. The child is back in Honduras while his father remains imprisoned in Mexico. “The face of poverty in Honduras is rural,” experts say, and Wilder’s story is proof of this.
They report to the job site every day at 7:00 am even though they don’t know what time they’ll finish work that day. For years, they didn’t dare complain about the inhumane work conditions. Now they are preparing a lawsuit.
Some justice for Berta Caceres: guilty verdict for David Castillo implicates a powerful Honduran clan
A Honduran court concluded the historic trial of David Castillo Mejía, a former military officer and former president of energy company Desarrollos Energéticos (DESA), with a guilty verdict for co-authoring the murder of Berta Caceres, the indigenous leader and world-renowned environmentalist. After receiving the verdict, Castillo’s defense team vowed to take the case to international courts so that “the truth can prevail over the lies and manipulations” of the prosecution.
A little over six months after the United States Congress passed the United States-Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act (HR-2615), the U.S. State Department published a
Civil society organizations from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador recently launched the Center Against Corruption and Impunity in Northern Central America (CCINOC) in order to focus on one of the region’s biggest problems – corruption.
The judicial systems of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador (the Northern Triangle) are in crisis due to the politicization of their institutions. The citizens of the Northern Triangle expect that their rights and freedoms will be guaranteed through judicial independence and integrity.
While Hondurans continue to battle the pandemic and await the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines, Employment and Economic Development Zones (ZEDEs) are being built in Roatán and Choloma, with La Ceiba coming soon as well.
A mother’s heart always aches when a child leaves home for some faraway place, especially if they are fleeing their country because it has nothing
Analysts don’t believe that the new electoral law approved by the Honduran National Congress on May 25 can prevent election fraud or forestall another political
The six Honduran officials named in the report are current National Party congressional representatives. Five of these had been previously implicated in the MACCIH-UFECIC Arca Abierta (Open Vault) investigation, including Oscar Nájera, a congressional representative sanctioned by the United States and the United Kingdom for his involvement in high-level corruption.
On May 5, the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador, now controlled by President Nayib Bukele’s New Ideas political party, approved a law that removes almost all controls over pandemic-related government procurements.
Six months after the disaster ETA and IOTA, the government’s You Are Not Alone program is not reaching all those who need assistance.
Honduras currently has one of the worst vaccination rates in the world, with only 0.56% of its population vaccinated.
The Hernández administration spent nearly US$4 million dollars over the last five years on lobbyists in the United States. Federal prosecutors in New York claimed that a lobbyist tried to pressure them during the trial of Tony Hernandez.
The Honduran president used Facebook to massively inflate his popularity – an interview with Sophie Zhang
Juan Orlando Hernandez, current president of Honduras, used over a thousand inauthentic Facebook Pages and benefited from hundreds of thousands of fake likes. Over a six-week period in 2018, his posts were liked by 59,100 users, of which 46,500 were fake.
While the Honduran government has publicly stated that it has issued a contract to purchase the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine, the Ministry of Public Health
A private plane carrying Sputnik-V vaccine doses later determined to be fake was apprehended in Mexico this week. The plane was headed for Honduras and most of its crew are employed by Grupo Karims, owned by Mohamad Yusuf Amdani, one of the richest people in Honduras. Local media reports in Mexico indicate that the crew has been released, but little is known about why they were transporting the fake vaccines.
The New York trial of Honduran drug trafficker Geovanny Fuentes has rattled Juan Orlando Hernandez and the country’s political elite. Devis Leonel Rivera, leader of the Cachiros cartel, testified in court that not only did he bribe the current president, he also bribed former President Jose Manuel Zelaya (2006-2009) and former presidential designate, Ricardo Alvarez, both of whom are running for Congress in the upcoming elections.
The Hermes case filed by UFERCO, the Ministry of Justice’s anti-corruption unit, is the last piece of a puzzle that now provides a complete picture of how Juan Orlando Hernández rose to power through political patronage and media control. The indictment charges Hilda Hernández, the deceased minister and sister of the president, with leading a corruption ring that embezzled more than 122 million lempiras (US$5 million) in public funds.
In-person classes were suspended in March 2020 when the pandemic hit Honduras. One year later, the pandemic is still out of control and the country is preparing to start a new school year in very unstable circumstances.
Almost a year after the country declared a national state of emergency due to the pandemic and in the midst of a new surge in COVID-19 cases, only two of the seven mobile hospitals procured by the government are up and running, and these are only operating at a reduced capacity.
Two weeks after abortion was decriminalized in Argentina, Honduran Congressperson Mario Perez introduced a bill in the National Congress that seeks to prevent the legalization of abortion for any reason, even if the constitution is changed.
According to official data, Tropical Storms Eta and Iota caused the death of 96 people. One devastated family speaks out about the government’s unreliable death tally, demonstrating that the true number of deaths is unknown.
Six months after Contracorriente submitted a formal information request to the Institute for Public Information Access (Instituto de Acceso a la Información Pública – IAIP), the Ministry of Public Health released information confirming that President Juan Orlando Hernandez tested negative for COVID-19 the day before he made a public appearance where he stated that he and his wife had tested positive for the virus.
The pandemic and two hurricanes this year added to the heavy burden that Honduran nurses already bear. Together, they have learned to cope and confront the virus, the floods and long-standing evils: the plundering of the health system, unequal working conditions, violence, and machismo.
La Lima was the Honduran city hit hardest by Tropical Storm Eta. Its residents are still cleaning out the mud and dirty water that has filled their homes, while yet another storm threatens Honduras.
The Ministry of Health failed to release a copy of the test results in which Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández allegedly tested positive for COVID-19 after Contracorriente requested it, based on a Institute of Access to Public Information (IAIP) requirement. Now, the commissioner’s board of the IAIP has issued a legal resolution for the handing over of the information. If not complied with, the case will be brought before the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR).
Deaths and evacuations resulting from Eta demonstrate the management style of the Honduran government
Officially, Honduras has reported 500 damaged houses, 26 cut off highways, tree loss, and dozens of communities waterlogged by overflowing rivers. The destruction, however, is clearly much greater.
Last Monday, the government’s special anti-corruption unit (Unidad Fiscal Especializada Contra Redes de Corrupción – UFERCO) presented its court case against Nasry Asfura, a candidate for the National Party’s presidential nomination, and a member of its Let’s Save Honduras movement (Salvemos Honduras del Partido Nacional). The charges accuse him of using public funds for his 2014 political campaign. Meanwhile, the National Congress continues to debate electoral reforms.
Photography by: Claudia Mendoza The exodus of Hondurans is alarming. Since last Friday, more than 2,000 people left from San Pedro Sula in a caravan
Text by: Jennifer Avila Photography: Hansel Brooks, victim in the Ahuas massacre 2012. By: Martín Cálix Yesterday, a tribunal in La Ceiba absolved the only
With neighborhoods reaching near the top of the Opalaca Mountains, Belen seems an unlikely location for a voter participation rate of 94 percent – highest
Honduras and the United States should build more humane and less militarized or corporate connections, according to Congressman Keith Ellison
After four days of traveling through the northern and central regions of Honduras, the U.S. Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison tells us that he has listened
Bay Islands Ask for Review of Tourism Promotion Law & the Abolishment of Articles Harmful to Sovereignty
Civil society groups from the Bay Islands, one of the well-known tourist destinations in Honduras, have also asked Congress to revise the Tourism Promotion Law