Campaigning for Honduras' presidential and general elections has begun, with some 30,000 political candidates vying for a range of national offices.
During an almost three month period ending on Nov. 20, aspiring officeholders will discuss their platform and appeal to voters through public debates, forums and announcements, according to La Prensa.
Juan Orlando Ortiz, the current president representing the National Party is running for re-election. It's the first time in the country's history that a president from the Central American nation seeks re-election after the supreme court agreed to allow a second term, changing constitutional rules.
The leftist Honduras Opposition Alliance, which was formed to field candidates this year, is made up of the Freedom and Refoundation Party, known as LIBRE; the Anti-Corruption Party; and the Innovation and Unity Party.
Salvador Nasrallah from the PAC and Xiomara Castro from Libre are the presidential and vice presidential candidates, respectively, for the coalition.
Other presidential candidates include: Luis Zelaya Medrano of the Liberal Party; Lucas Aguilera of the Christian Democracy party; Vasquez Velasquez of Patriotic Alliance; and Jose Alfonso Diaz of Democratic Unification.
Marco Ramiro Lobo, Honduras' Supreme Electoral Tribunal magistrate, stated, “including the five days of electoral silence, there are 90 intense days of electoral propaganda in which we expect the candidates to engage in debates.”
The electoral law also prohibits deliberate acts that would jeopardize the integrity of the election, particularly undermining the personal reputation or campaign of fellow candidates seeking office.
Almost US$123 million in political debt has been distributed by the TSE among all vying political parties. Of the total amount, US$89.2 million corresponds to the cost of each vote obtained in the 2013 elections. The remaining US$33.3 million is dedicated to transportation.
Since the 2009 U.S.-backed military coup that removed Manuel Zelaya from power, government corruption, along with mass violence and repression against opposition activists, has become commonplace. The 2016 assassination of environmental activist Berta Caceres exemplified Honduras’ turn toward right-wing violence. Hundreds of other environmental, Black, Indigenous, LGBTQ and socialist activists have also been brutally murdered.
Born in Honduras, Lucy Pagoada-Quesada, a New York public school teacher and activist who organizes Hondurans in the United States and Canada, attended the national assembly of the opposition alliance.
She said, “Their main concerns are to get rid of corruption, eliminate poverty and create free public social services like health care and education,” adding that the alliance's main position is to change "the system that has kept Honduras back for so long.”