Honduras' illegitimate acting government went forward with presidential elections Sunday despite widespread belief that a rogue regime could not hold valid elections. The United States, Panama and Costa Rica were among the few countries saying that they would recognize the results of elections held by the de facto government, which ousted the last democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya at gunpoint in a June coup.
Conservative Porfirio Lobo won handily, besting his main opponent, Elvin Santos, by a margin of 16 to 18 points, according to preliminary counts. Santos has conceded.
The de facto government, led by Roberto Micheletti controls the mass media. The regime has committed widespread human rights abuses in the five months it held power. Police beat and abused protestors, particularly women, who peacefully took to the streets in support of Zelaya and of democracy. A coalition of women calling themselves Feminists in Resistance banded together to continue to protest the coup, draw international attention and provide support to those injured by police.
Women's human rights advocates Jessica Sanchez and Adelay Carias wrote a report earlier this month to shed light on the "systematic attack on women" under the coup regime. Carias also had this to say about the prospect of the de facto government holding elections: "Free and fair elections are impossible in a context of repression.
They will not be recognized as legitimate in Honduras or the rest of
the world. The U.S. may be alone." Well said.
The UN withheld support for the election. The Organization of American States, the Carter Center and the European Union also did not send observers.
The United States' support of elections under an illegal coup sanctions the coup and the illegitimate regime's human rights abuses. The Obama Administration's position has cast doubts among other Latin American countries regarding the US' purported support for democracy.
There's no telling if a Lobo government will roll back the restrictions on civil and human rights the de facto government introduced. But two things are certain. First, there is no positive leadership coming from the US. And second, Honduran women aren't backing down. Read more about Feminists in Resistance here.