Honduras Braces Itself

This Sunday Hondurans will vote in a general election for a new president and congress. There are three main parties vying for position instead of the usual two. The reason for this is a split in the “Liberal” party since the 2009 coup in which the military, backed by Congress and much of Honduras’s middle class and ruling class, ousted then President Manuel Zelaya. Zelaya was hardly a paragon of transparency but the coup was clearly a step backward for the nation and, according to most knowledgeable Hondurans, helped further clear terrain for the drug cartels and organized crime rings to play with a free hand. Eric Olson, who works at the Latin America desk of the Wilson Center in D.C., had a nice column in yesterday’s Miami Herald. If you’re like most Americans, even those few who know something about Central America, you probably know little about Honduras, which now holds the title of the most violent nation in the Western hemisphere — and second only to Afghanistan in the world. Although I will be disappointed if the current “official party” candidate wins, over the longer haul the winner of the elections matters less than some other key issues like campaign finance reform and the establishment of a robust human rights and corruption observation office. There have been some advances in this area, one of which is evident in the Observatorio de la Violencia.