photos: Ida del Rio/The Nation Report
The military is charged with overseeing election day procedures. Here a member of the National Police is checking a voter’s credentials. Election observer Lois Martin of Tucson, Arizona is in the background.
Representatives from the international election observer team that monitored the north part of the country give press conference in El Progreso.
EL PROGRESO-Four members of an international election observer delegation gave a press conference today in el Progreso in the department of Yoro. In conclusion, they failed to certify the results of the November 24, 2013 elections in Honduras. The following is a transcript of the conference.
My Name is Chuck Kaufman, National Co-coordinator of the Alliance for Global Justice. Our delegation has been here as election accompaniers, officially credentialed-since November 17th meeting with groups and individuals prior to the elections and accompanying on election day. So we had a significant number of meetings prior to the elections and on election day. Our 55-member delegation went to 5 different locations in the northern part of the country. You can have the forms of democracy in elections but if you don’t have the conditions in which a democratic result can come out, then that election is not free and fair. And what we learned from many of the testimonies that we’ve had plus our solidarity work for the last four years since the coup in 2009 is that those conditions for a democratic election do not exist. The violence, and repression, and the impunity simply don’t create a condition where democracy can follow from the forms of an election.
I’m here with the Alliance for Global Justice. I’m Executive Director of a non-profit in San Jose, California for human rights called Human Agenda and I’m an immigration attorney. My name is Richard Hobbs. It was clear from our visits to different Honduran organizations and interviews that we had that the conditions for democratic elections simply did not exist here in this area of the country and possibly in the entire country. One of the things that happened to us, of course is that we were subject to an immigration raid. So it was quite interesting and quite discerning, quite difficult for us to be subjected to an immigration raid here in El Progreso. We were subjected to a one-by-one review of our documents and several people did have to return. So even though immigration raids have ceased in the United States, we ourselves were subject to an immigration raid right here in Honduras. The other thing that stands out to me is the fact that while there were definitely irregularities-and I saw them at eleven different tables at Francisco Morizan- which is the school where I was at-the irregularities during the day didn’t seem to be as important as what happened at the end of the day. At the end of the day we know from having interviewed different people afterwards that a lot of the documents that actually wound up being scanned were not the same documents that were signed off on by the president and the secretary of each table, of each mesa, of each precinct. And so to me if there’s going to be democracy in Honduras, there needs to be a sign-off on those documents. Those documents need to be sent by email to the same people who are at the tables so they can see exactly what was sent that night and there need to be people in Tegucigalpa receiving that document from the different parties to show that that document has actually been received by the TSE. It would be very important in this country that if we’re going to have true democracy that the results be posted immediately. If there are 1600 voting centers in the country, then they obviously have the capacity to record by computer the results as they come in and have that information available the next day. And yet we’re still waiting for any kind of results, table by table in this country and to me that means there’s a lack of transparency. There’s an unwillingness to allow people to actually see the results of what they were viewing and observing and part of at the tables and as observers. We still do not know as observers what the actual results were recorded at the tables that we were at, and to me that means that we did not have a transparent process here in Honduras.
My name is Elena Rodriguez. I’m just going to mention a few of the specific things our delegation was told in the week prior to the election about the intimidation and threats that campesinos and indigineous people are receiving and specifically how that affects the vote count. We were told that the bono that is like an every three month welfare payment would be withheld if their national party candidates didn’t win. The National Party is only responsible for distributing it because they’re the current party in power right now but they seem to be deceiving all the people who are receiving it claiming that they’re the ones-it’s the National Party’s money. And if the National Party doesn’t win, the money will cease to be distributed. Another thing that we were told is that the National Party-the current people in power were buying credentials, voting ID cards so that people would just simply not be able to vote. So it wasn’t like they were voting for the National Party or voting for whomever. They were just simply not able to vote if they sold their ID card for however much money. So those were some of the specifics. We also saw false propoganda that was written by someone else about the presidential candiate for the LIBRE party Xiomara Castro.
My name is Buddy Bell. I’ve been here in Honduras with La Voz de los de Abajo, a group based in Chicago, Illinois. I had witnessed a fair number of election irregularities on Sunday here in el Progreso. And I also was in a larger meeting with our group and Sister Cities and the group of Alliance for Global Justice that went to the western departments. Here in el Progreso there seemed to be trends of mayor members preparing ballots before voters arrived. Preparing them meaning signing them, in some cases stamping them. You’d have three stacks of three ballots, nine ballots total sitting on the table for as long as it took for voters to arrive. This is disconcerting. Another thing across the board that happened was that poll places opened late. In some cases the mayor did not receive a box until 6:55, five minutes before they were supposed to open for voting. In the most egregious case I witnessed, the mayor did not open until 7:55, so almost an hour of voting time was taken away. In other places, Ocotepeque in Colon, some of the mayors closed up to a half hour early. In addition to that you had in Colon department, mayors that received boxes without ballots in them. Mayors that received boxes or maletas without the cuaderno de votacion-what is used to verify voter’s identity. So these mayors in some cases did not open until almost 9’oclock, two hours late. There was also reports in Colon of some of the urns being marked for a previous election and not this election. We don’t know what all of these irregularities had, what effect they had on the results of the election but we do know that they are extremely disconcerting to say the least.
Chuck Kaufman: So in conclusion along with over one-hundred observers from groups that are members of the Honduras Solidarity Network in the United States who observed in the North. We observed an uncountable number of technical violations as well as grave violations of the electoral process and therefore we do not ratify or certify the results of the elections as being reported by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal. The report from the northern delegations has been in the last few minutes posted to the website www.hondurassolidarity.org so people can read in more detail what we’ve summarized here today.
Faustina Vasquez/The Nation Report
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