Honduras: Massive fraud attempts to deny LIBRE victory

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Xiomara Castro addresses LIBRE's closing rally of the election campaign.

See also "The importance of Xiomara Castro's November 24 presidential election campaign".

By Elena Zeledon

November 26, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Three of the main political parties contesting the November 24 election in Honduras are accusing the oligarchy-controlled Supreme Elections Tribunal of vote manipulation and fraud following a massive voter turnout on election day.

Liberty and Refoundation (LIBRE) party presidential candidate Xiomara Castro Sarmiento de Zelaya is claiming victory and declared that she is the new president of Honduras, despite the vote results released by the tribunal that gives the lead to right-wing National Party’s Juan Hernandez. The sub-coordinator of the National Front for Popular Resistance, trade union leader Juan Baharona, has called on its members to take to the street to “preserve the victory of Xiomara”.

It is not only the LIBRE that is claiming fraud. The third placed Liberal Party and the newly formed Anticorruption Party are also claiming that the vote totals released by the tribunal do not match their exit polls, nor the actual vote totals recorded in the polling districts they have results for.

Discrepancies in the vote totals have been showing up in various places on the website of the elections tribunal.

One way in which the victory of the LIBRE is being denied is the use of “the siphon”, a method whereby the votes for one party are attributed to another. In this case the Anticorruption Party (PAC), founded by an ultra-rightist media owner who some observers claim have ties to the CIA and the US embassy, is claimed to have been founded so as to provide an outlet for those who are sick of the endemic corruption of Honduran politics. It is the Honduran equivalent of the US Tea Party.

Prior to the election, the PAC was polling between 5 to 7% in the polls. Based on departmental level (the equivalent of provincial or state jurisdictions) vote results, in places where the PAC garnered votes at the level of its pre-election strength, LIBRE was close to winning an outright majority, with voting percentages in the high 40s.

However, in departments where the PAC was awarded vote totals in some places 300% higher than its pre-election polling, especially in heavily populated departments like Francisco Morazan, which includes the capital district, the siphon was used to allocated tens of thousands of LIBRE votes to the PAC.

The net result of this fraud by the electoral tribunal, which itself is illegitimate as a result of its appointment by the dictator Roberto Michelleti following the 2009 coup, the political crisis that would have unfolded as a result of an outright electoral victory by LIBRE is now manifesting itself in another form.

That this was planned in advance there can be no doubt. Just after the polls closed, and before any voting trends were made public, the presidents representing the Latin American right of Colombia, Panama and Guatemala, all called the National Party candidate to congratulate him on his “victory”.

It is no coincidence that the ex-president of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, and the extreme right-wing Venezuelan terrorist and CIA operative Robert Carmona, were working closely with the National Party election team. Uribe has been active in Honduras the past several years, and the increasing assassinations of LIBRE local leaders, nearly 80 in this election cycle alone, have coincided with his “democracy-promoting” activities.

In addition, the US ambassador has called on all citizens to respect the decision of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, another sign that this fraud has been carefully structured.

It now appears that the Honduran election may be settled in the streets and behind the barricades, but not any time soon.

[Elena Zeledon is a political activist in Costa Rica.]

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro condemns US intervention

By Tamara Pearson, Merida, Venezuela

November 27, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro criticised US “intervention” in the internal affairs of Latin American countries, and in the Honduran elections, on November 25.

Xiomara Castro, candidate for the LIBRE party formed by the resistance movement that opposed the 2009 US-backed coup, declared victory after the vote. However, so did her conservative opponent, National Party's Juan Hernandez , with the Electoral Supreme Court (TSE) declaring Hernandez clearly ahead. LIBRE rejected the TSE's count, alleging serious fraud.

US Ambassador to Honduras Lisa Kubiske said minutes after the third preliminary announcement from the TSE that she “recognised and respected” the results, as they “coincide” with the reports of US governmental observers.

The final results with the full count had yet to be announced at the time, and the LIBRE party and the smaller Anti Corrupcion party, said they don’t recognise the results. They say they have proof of irregularities committed during the voting process.

The results announced by the TSE on November 25 gave Hernandez 34.08% of the vote, and Xiomara Castro of the LIBRE party 28.92%, with 67.72% of votes counted.

Maduro also accused the US of spending “I don’t know how many millions” on training the TSE, and stressed that Honduras is still recovering from the “wounds” inflicted on it by the coup against president Manuel Zelaya in 2009.

Maduro said the people of Honduras were mature enough to resolve their internal affairs without US intervention. “I want to express my repugnance at the declarations of the US ambassador in Tegucigalpa,” he said. "It makes your blood boil when you see a US ambassador meddling in the internal affairs of Hondurans.”

He also criticised some comments that have compared the Honduran elections to the presidential elections held in Venezuela earlier this year. In that case, Henrique Capriles, representing the opposition, refused to recognise the results, as did the US.

“Today [Monday] on CNN and the other maggots nests of the right wing in the world, they were comparing the Honduran electoral process with Venezuela’s on 14 April, [but] they are different processes.”

In Venezuela, electoral results are only announced once they are irreversible. “In Venezuela there is an automatic electoral process, we vote in the most monitored electoral process, the most controlled one, the most automatic in the world, we should feel proud of the electoral system we have.”

Venezuelan legislator to the Latin American Parliament, Rodrigo Cabezas, expressed concern about the “denunciations of manipulated results” in the Honduran elections. He expressed solidarity with the LIBRE party, and with “all social movements who support Castro’s candidature”. He called on authorities to investigate the denunciations.