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Honduras Must Rise above Political Point-Scoring

By: Elena Toledo - @NenaToledo - Jun 2, 2015, 10:37 am
The main opposition parties are battling it out, only serving to sink Honduras into instability.
The main opposition parties are battling it out, only serving to sink Honduras into instability. (La Prensa)

EspañolThe current political scenario in Honduras has become highly unstable as a result of corruption accusations, mainly leveled against the ruling National Party. But despite the current furor, illegality has an established pedigree in Honduras.

It’s not only the ruling party that is to blame. The crisis has been simmering for years, encompassing multiple corrupt administrations, tolerated by an indifferent Honduran society. It’s only erupting now, with half truths and misplaced anger spewing all over the country.

President Juan Orlando Hernández’s inadequate response to the accusations has provoked the leaders of Honduras’ opposition parties — ousted former President Manuel Zelaya Rosales (2006-2009) of LIBRE, Salvador Nasralla from the Anti-Corruption Party, and Mauricio Villeda from the Liberal Party — to raise their voices.

The opposition is attempting to channel popular discontent with the ruling administration. Their stated mission is to force Hernández to step down. But at what cost?

Power Struggles

The Libre party hijacks what should be popular protests in Honduras.
The Libre party has hijacked what were initially popular protests. (@Grillo779)

What would be the point of the sitting president resigning? Would it represent little more than revenge against Hernández himself, leaving the culture of corruption intact?

It’s an awkward question, for many Hondurans know that the three individuals poised to replace him are members of the same corrupt party.

Some might even wonder whether the hidden objective is to create unrest, and thus reinforce calls for a Constituent Assembly: perhaps Zelaya’s goals all along? It’s sad to see how the noble demand of shedding light on the corruption scheme at the Honduran Social Security Institute is being used to carry out a political vendetta.

Over recent weeks, congressmen from all parties took up the investigation, inevitably a recipe for disaster. The scandal’s offshoots will tarnish every state institution, and our legislators are sure to mutually cover their backs. Once again, an historic opportunity to weed out endemic corruption will be lost, letting Honduran society down.

A UN Corruption Probe for Honduras?

Besides the ridiculous demand that Hernández step down, there’s another proposal in the air. It’s not without its risks, but it could do more to contribute stability and accountability in Honduras: the creation of an International Commission against Impunity, akin to Guatemala’s CICIG, which has helped to unveil and investigate huge corruption schemes in our neighboring country.

Hondurans should also seek to depoliticize the judiciary, where everybody knows each party has a bloc that responds to their interests, blocking transparency and efficiency in criminal prosecutions.

Civil society should also be involved to help turn the page on Honduras’s history of corruption. If we continue leaving accountability in the hands of politicians, we’ll keep getting the same results: polarization, thinly-veiled power struggles, manipulation, and above all, investigations that go nowhere. Corruption has infected the state and parties at all levels, and they will always watch each others’ backs at all costs.

Instability Looms

It’s encouraging to see how Hondurans have taken to the streets to express their discontent, showing the world that Honduras is a free country where different opinions are tolerated and where people can protest against the president without meeting with violent repression.

What is not justified is the high level of involvement by political parties in what are supposed to be popular demonstrations. Their flags are often the most visible in marches and protestors put their party affiliations before the unity of the country. This is devolving into renewed polarization of Honduran society, and intolerance is increasing between those who support the opposition parties’ demands and those who do not.

Were Hernández to resign, it would set a terrible precedent for future governments. It would throw the country into a vicious circle of instability, whereby the opposition will always hit the president’s weakest spot in order to overthrow him.

No Party Affiliations

Honduras deserves a better future. We need more citizens committed to the nation’s well-being, who want to get up and build a fair society without impunity. We need citizens who don’t let themselves be carried away by short-sighted political interests; who promote not intolerance, hate, and antagonism, but rather effective and sensible solutions.

Honduras doesn’t need movements whose goals are to get rid of one person or political party. Rather, they should target the corruption that infects the entire political class.

We must remember that the nation is above Hernández, Zelaya, Nasralla, Villeda, and all their ilk; that institutions are more important than politics; and that the only banner we should rally to is the Honduran flag — not the standard of private interests and corruption.

Translated by Daniel Duarte.

Elena Toledo Elena Toledo

Educator by trade, social-media apprentice, activist for a democratic Honduras, and free thinker. Follow her on Twitter @NenaToledo.