A weakened Xiomara Castro takes office as president in Honduras | International

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An advertisement with the face of Xiomara Castro, elected president of Honduras, in the streets of Tegucigalpa, this January 26.
An advertisement with the face of Xiomara Castro, elected president of Honduras, in the streets of Tegucigalpa, this January 26.Welcome Velasco (EFE)

Everything is ready in Honduras so that this Thursday Xiomara Castro will take office as president of Honduras for the next four years. Until the weekend, when his deputies staged an embarrassing fight on the congressional rostrum, the adjective “historic” was the one that best suited his coming to power. At the head of the Libertad y Refundación (Libre) party, Castro, 62, had won a landslide victory in the November elections, thus ending the secular two-party system. With his victory in the most voted elections in history, Castro won the presidency, the largest number of deputies and the main cities: Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. As historic as the results, it is also the fact that a woman reaches the top in one of the countries with the highest number of femicides on the continent.

Aware of his resounding victory, the international community prepared to support his arrival in power and various personalities announced his arrival in the Central American country, including the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris; the King of Spain, Felipe VI; the Mexican foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, or the vice president of Argentina, Cristina Kirchner. The left of the continent also enthusiastically celebrated the arrival to power of the wife of the ousted Manuel Zelaya as one more piece of a gear that Gabriel Boric is part of in Chile and also aspire to do so this year Lula Da Silva and Gustavo Petro yes, as they say the polls, achieve victory in Brazil and Colombia, respectively.

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Everything was ready for a great celebration this Thursday in Tegucigalpa until the internal division ended up spoiling the party with a row, also historic, in which several members of his party fought on the congressional platform. The insults and shoves before the eyes of the entire country evidenced the weakness and division surrounding his coming to power. The best image of Castro’s weakness is such that only a few hours before assuming power he met with Jorge Cálix to offer him a position in his Cabinet, only a few days after having called him a “traitor” for being sworn in as president of the chamber in front of whom it was his candidate Luis Redondo.

Thus, until a few hours before the inauguration, Castro negotiated in extremis an agreement that saved the most important event of his political career.

Xiomara Castro, elected president of Honduras, and Jorge Cálix, this Tuesday in Tegucigalpa.
Xiomara Castro, elected president of Honduras, and Jorge Cálix, this Tuesday in Tegucigalpa.– (AFP)

At the origin of the dispute that threatens to embitter the inauguration are the different currents that helped him win the elections and that now coexist in his government. An agreement prior to the elections between Libre and Salvador Nasralla’s party (PSH) established that the popular television presenter would not stand in the elections as a candidate if Castro guaranteed him the vice presidency of Honduras and the possibility of electing the leadership of Congress. Finally, Castro obtained 50 seats and Nasralla ten so they do not reach the simple majority to endorse the pact. Taking advantage of this, 20 deputies from Libre joined 44 from the National Party and other smaller groups to appoint Jorge Cálix as president of Congress with his own Board of Directors. Castro’s reaction was to expel 18 of the 20 lawmakers from the party after two recanted.

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However, the damage had already been done and Honduras reaches its most important day with two presidents of Congress, which casts doubt on who will be in charge of putting on the presidential sash. On the one hand, Luis Redondo, supported by Castro and Nasralla, and on the other Cálix, appointed via the internet by 70 deputies, of the 128 in Congress, about twenty of them expelled from Libre and the rest from the opposition National Party and Liberal Party. Until the last minute Castro negotiated with Cálix to convince him to abandon his intentions by offering him a position in the government with her.

Added to the internal division are the problems that await Xiomara Castro starting this Thursday when he assumes the presidency of the second poorest country on the continent after Haiti. The new government receives a country economically bankrupt and penetrated to the core by drug trafficking. A country with enormous possibilities, but with 74% of the population living in poverty and 53% in extreme poverty. Experts predict that Castro will have to assume a fiscal adjustment due to the drop in income due to the pandemic and the impact of two hurricanes in a row in one year.

The other focus of attention will be on President Juan Orlando Hernández, 51, who leaves office after a convulsive eight-year administration marked by his controversial re-election and the imprisonment of his brother, Tony Hernández, sentenced to life imprisonment for putting tons of cocaine in the United States. A conviction, after a trial in a New York court, in which Hernández’s name came up more than 100 times for complicity with the Cachiros cartel. In an interview with EL PAÍS, Hernández assured that he will be part of the Central American Parliament from this Thursday, which apparently could guarantee him diplomatic immunity, however, there are not a few voices that foresee legal action from the United States to request his extradition.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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