Responses to the Coup d'etat in Honduras on Sunday June 28, with special emphasis on producing English-language versions of commentaries by Honduran scholars and editorial writers and addressing the confusion encouraged by lack of basic knowledge about Honduras.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


There are 2,896 candidates up for election in November in Honduras, at all levels of government from President and Congress to mayors, and aldermen. While two of the presidential candidates, Cesar Ham (UD party) and Carlos H. Reyes (Independent), have said they will not run without a return to democratic order in Honduras, few at other levels of government have made public statements about the elections.

Earlier this week, the leadership of the UD party indicated they would not participate in the november elections without the restitution of Zelaya. The majority of the leadership of the Party of Innovation and Social Democratic Unity (PINU-SD) issued a statement rebuking their candidate for President, Bernard Martinez, for supporting the coup, and indicating that it would not participate in the November elections unless there was a restitution of democratic order in Honduras. This faction of the PINU-SD party indicated that 100 of its candidates for office would not participate in the November elections without a return of the democratic order.

However, the report in Tiempo this morning that a faction of the liberal party held a convention yesterday, and that 300 of its candidates will not participate in the election if Zelaya is not returned to power comes as something of a surprise. Six of them are candidates for the Congress (El Heraldo says 26). All of these candidates stood for election in the internal party elections last November and won. They come from a variety of factions within the liberal party, including those of Roberto Micheletti, Elvin Santos, Eduardo Maldonado, and José Nolasco.

This scares the de facto government. Why else would they continue to issue threats to throw those who boycott the elections in jail? Denis Gomez, one of the alternates for the Magistrates of the Supreme Election Court (TSE), said yesterday "we will have to, according to articles 209 and 210 of the Law of Political Organizations, process in court those who try to boycott [the elections]". This crime is punishable by imprisonment for four to six years. He points out that the political parties will be able to subsitute for any candidate that withdraws, but laments the cost to the government.

A simple boycott, not participating in the election, is not punishable under articles 209 or 210 of the "Ley Electoral y de las Organizaciones Politicas". The threats are either empty, or involve a more active definition of "boycott" than that advocated by those boycotting. Article 209 is the relevant article.

209. Coercion and Electoral Threat
The following are sancioned by imprisonment of four to six years:
1. Anyone, not legally authorized, who impedes another, with or without the use of violence, from exercising their political rights.
2. Anyone who does not permit or otherwise blocks the election organization from the public sites necessary for it to function.
3. Anyone who alters or blocks legitimate campaign materials.
4, Anyone who impedes election officials in the fullfillment of their job and
5, Anyone who impedes the opening of voting, or causes it to be interrupted, or to have to move.

Article 210 is about falsification of election documents and so appears to be an empty threat like so many of those of the de facto government.

So what kind of boycott is Denis Gómez anticipating? He might be thinking about pickets outside the polling place, of school teachers who refuse to end the school year early and turn over their classrooms for voting or the removal and alteration of the campaign signs rampant in the country as a violations of Article 209. The one thing he can't be thinking about is people boycotting by staying home and not participating, because that is not a punishable crime in Honduras.

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