Members of the Honduran National Police force, including two of its special military trained forces, the Cobras and Tigres, have announced at a press conference that they will be on the streets to “protect not repress the Honduran people.”
The police units made the announcement to clarify that they are not on strike and that they aren’t interested in higher wages, but are simply refusing to use excessive force on peaceful protesters, as they have been ordered to do by government officials.
"This isn’t about salaries, this isn’t about money. Were it about money this would have been resolved yesterday” a Cobra representatives said. “Press, please don’t distort what we’re saying. What we are doing is putting our hands down” and halting any “repression” against the people of Honduras.
The police demanded "transparency" in the electoral counting process and insisted that their decision "is not political, but is a move to respect the sovereignty and rights of the people."
Yesterday, the members of the national police released an 8-point statement saying they were told by the government to act as agents of state power. The police said, among other declarations:
1. We express our unease with the government for the current crisis which our Honduran society finds itself in, day in day out, part of a political crisis that doesn't concern us.
2. Our people are sovereign and we owe ourselves to them, therefore, we cannot continue to confront them and suppress their rights.
3. We let the public know that our leadership is ready to follow political guidelines, hence, we ask intermediate officers to take control of our institution due to the ineffectiveness of our superiors who have helped little to solve this state problem.
The communique went on to say that the national police members refusal to use violence and coercion against the protesters wasn’t “related to political ideas, or work demands, but simply due to our unconformity with what is happening."
The Minister of Security Julian Pacheco Tinoco said he was prepared to send in police reinforcements and give them a “special bonus” for their “extra time.” State lawyer Omar Menjívar said “this appears like a political argument [where the police] are trying to justify their protests against long work days without time off to see their families."
It’s likely that the Honduran military will fill in for the police forces refusing to participate in state repression against marchers.
Tensions have been rising as presidential election counting is now in its eighth day without an official winner. The head of the EU Parliament Electoral Observation Mission in Honduras Marisa Matias said in a press conference Monday that “no one should declare themselves the winner, this process isn’t over. There’s still a chance [for candidates to present] petitions and challenges” of the count.
The Opposition Alliance is demanding electoral transparency, and that ballots from several thousand polls be counted under international observation, that it says were left out of TSE's official results.
Though an official winner has not been declared, Juan Orlando Hernandez is ahead with 42.98 percent, and Salvador Nasralla has 41.38 percent of the popular vote with 99.98 percent of ballots counted.