Instability, Corruption, and Drugs Election in Honduras in March.

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Instability, Corruption, and Drugs Election in Honduras in March.

Hondurans go to the polls on Sunday to pick a new president in a country rife with corruption and afflicted by formidable drug-trafficking gangs that have infiltrated government ranks.

Many young people have given up hope for a better future and are only interested in moving to the United States.

Since the coup that deposed Manuel Zelaya in 2009, the country has been controlled by outgoing President Juan Orlando Hernandez’s right-wing National Party, which has been accused of drug trafficking in the United States.

Xiomara Castro, Zelaya’s wife and former first lady, leads various opinion polls for the Marxist LIBRE party. Many believe, however, that the ruling party, led by Tegucigalpa mayor Nasry Asfura, will not easily relinquish power.

“Most Hondurans are unhappy with the status quo and appear to be eager for change after a dozen years of National Party leadership characterised by pervasive corruption and criminality,” said Michael Shifter, head of the Inter-American Dialogue.

“However, the National Party machine should not be underestimated, and many powerful interests are likely to do everything possible to prevent Castro from assuming power.”

The National Party has waged a brutal campaign against Castro, painting her as a communist and emphasizing her desire to legalize abortion and same-sex marriage, all of which are contentious subjects in traditional Honduras.

When it comes to breaking the rules, the National Party has a track record.

Hernandez was elected in two elections that were marked by allegations of fraud.

In 2013, he narrowly defeated Castro, and in 2017, he overcame the constitution’s ban on reelection to win a second term.

After Hernandez’s second victory, in which he defeated prominent television broadcaster Salvador Nasralla, who has thrown his support behind Castro this time, serious social discontent occurred.

A repetition of such large-scale protests would be unpopular in Washington. Honduras’ largest trading partner is the United States, which is also the intended destination for the tens of thousands of migrants that depart the Central American country on a regular basis.

“The (Joe) Biden administration is pushing for a fair and transparent election,” Shifter said.

“The United States wants to avoid a repeat of 2017,” he said, referring to the heightened pressure on migration brought on by a worsening humanitarian situation.

Honduras is waiting to see what will happen next.

If Castro wins by a slim margin, “the National Party will accuse fraud, which may prove disastrous for the country’s stability,” said Victor Meza, head of the Honduran Documentation Center, a democracy advocacy group.

It doesn’t matter if Asfura wins. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.

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