Category Archives: Guatemala 2011 Elections

Where’s a coup when you need it?

In Honduras, the governing National Party seeks to run Juan Orlando Hernandez as its presidential candidate in the 2017 elections. They've sure come a long way since 2009 when officials from the Supreme Court, military, congress, and the private sector colluded to arrest President Manuel Zelaya and send him into (temporary) exile for asking the people to vote on whether they wanted to consider (not even approve) presidential re-election. In April 2015, the questionably-packed Supreme Court then struck down a law that banned presidents from serving a second term. And here we are.

At best, the United States failed to reverse the coup that removed Zelaya from power. I'm not sure how relevant that is going to be to the presidential campaign in the United States this year but that failure was one rather significant blemish on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration's Latin America record.

The United States didn't support but ultimately accepted Daniel Ortega's questionable re-election in neighboring Nicaragua. I get the impression that it will do the same in Honduras if the Democrats win the presidency. Latin America is generally left to sink or swim on its own. If the Republicans are elected in November, there won't even be a question about the legality of Hernandez' candidacy.

Mixed bag for Central America’s Northern Triangle

In many ways and like most years, 2015 was a mixed bag for Central America's Northern Triangle.

We better understand the depths of the challenges that Guatemala confronts following a series of investigations into high level functionaries engaged in corruption.

Inacif has the murder rate increasing in 2015 to 33.84 but I can't figure out how they are calculating their numbers. Fewer violent deaths and a larger population usually does not lead to a higher murder rate? We'll have to see what the PNC comes up with. I tend to look at PNC numbers as the minimum (murders) and Inacif as the maximum (violent deaths) for estimating homicides.

***Update - I still don't know what they are doing but it looks like Prensa Libre mixed and matched PNC and Inacif figures on deaths and RENAP and INE estimates on population because they still haven't learned the difference or they simply wanted the numbers to look bad. From what I understand, violent deaths and homicides were both set to improve in 2015 so we'll have to wait for final figures.***

Things look pretty bad but there is hope following the mobilization of thousands of citizens across the political spectrum, extension of CICIG, arrests of numerous public and private officials, and election of a new president. The path ahead is fraught with danger but there's reason for optimism, no?

El Salvador had a rough, rough year with a homicide rate of over 100. Economic growth is slow and poverty worsened but there's hope that some of the country's main actors are beginning to take corruption seriously. The FMLN has no interest in UN or OAS support and hopes to right the ship on its own. The FMLN sees boogeymen around every corner. It is difficult to see 2015 as anything but negative.

Honduras is tough to figure out. I'm just not as familiar with the country as Christine Wade and the people at Honduras Culture and Politics and elsewhere. Violence remains alarming, particularly when one looks at the homicide rate. Honduras' official homicide rate finished the year around 60 but no one seems to trust government statistics. I don't think that they are denying that murders have gone down, just not as much as the government claims. Says nothing about the cause but down is down, no?
There have also been several corruption scandals involving the incumbent government of Juan Orlando Hernandez. The president is engaged in talks with the OAS that would bring international help to assist in the country's battle against organized crime and corruption. The OAS entity won't have as strong a mandate as does the CICIG in Guatemala and nobody trusts Hernandez but it is a step in the right direction in my opinion. The international community can't impose a CICIH on Honduras so it will have to agree on a MACCIH. I don't get the impression that he is going to be able to use the OAS to whitewash any crimes in which he might have been engaged, which some people seem to think, so it might not be as doomed from the start as some expect it to be.

The Honduran people spent their holidays setting fire to symbols of last year's problems.

Hopefully, there will be fewer symbols to burn in 2016.