Honduras Political Reviews

The 2010 figure has been the decade of coups, protests and criminalization. Democracy is weathering, violence is escalating and the military is entering politics. In Honduras, a tug of war looms over the country’s resources, with the elite drawing the longest straw.

Honduras is one of seven countries in Central America, bordering Guatemala and El Salvador in the west and Nicaragua in the southeast. Of the Central American countries, Honduras is the second largest. With tropical climate and relatively stable temperatures, the country is well suited for agriculture. At the same time, land is a source of conflict. In addition to oil palm and banana plantations, energy and mineral recovery take up large parts of the arable land. Landran is a widespread cause for small farmers to lose access to their most important livelihoods, and threatens local food security. Since the 1990s, conflicts between the state and local communities that have been deprived of land have been increasingly violent. For human rights activists defending the country and the environment, killings, imprisonment and attacks are the reality, and The fight for justice is waged with life as an effort.

11 years after the 2009 coup d’état, the political situation is critical. The incumbent president, Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH), was re-elected in 2018. He has been sitting there continuously since 2014. Re-election is a direct violation of the Constitution and means that the country is unofficially a dictatorship. Corruption permeates the system and complicates political influence from social movements. Honduras is the country with the largest military concentration in Central America, and the US’s involvement is strong. The Roman Catholic Church is still central, but in recent years there has also been an increase in evangelical Protestantism.

From banana republic to drug dictatorship

After Honduras was liberated from the Spanish colonial power, the country was characterized by unstable political conditions. Only between 1821 and 1876 did 85 different presidents sit. Wealthy landowners had much power over small farmers across the country. There was never any strong state power, and the landlord class was weak compared to neighboring countries. This allowed for large investments from North American companies. Honduran governments distributed concessions, land and mineral resources. At the same time, US-owned banana companies gained a monopoly in the banana industry and were exempt from customs duties. The companies thus controlled Honduras most important industry.

At the beginning of the 1900s, Standard Fruit Company, now known as Dole, Cuyamel and United Fruit Company (Chiquita) bought land all over the country. Small farmers who no longer owned land began to work on the various plantations. Throughout history, the banana companies have had a strong connection with the traditional political parties: Partido Nacional and Partido Liberal. Banana plantation workers’ massive strikes against unworthy working conditions were the reason for the formation of the country’s trade unions.

Recent history

From 1957 until 1981, Honduras was militarily ruled, with the exception of some civilian governments. In the 1980s, Honduras received the second most military support from the United States in Latin America, after El Salvador. Honduras was used as a US-backed military base to crack down on revolutionary movements in neighboring countries. At the same time, Honduras was a refuge for refugees from the same countries. Prostitution, STDs, abductions, rapes and robberies were reported, and many human rights violations were reported.

In 1998, Hurricane Mitch destroyed nearly 70% of the banana plantations and large parts of the crops. Honduras is essentially a commodity producer, and the devastation had major consequences for the economy. Official figures say that nearly 14,000 people disappeared or died from the hurricane, and much of the country suffered from famine for a long time. The hurricane led to increased crime, violence, many homeless and unemployed, but parts of the affluent class made good money from the disaster. They introduced massive privatization of various sectors, reversing previous land reforms. The changes made it easier for Honduran and foreign investors to buy and sell land. The severe economic upheaval is described as a form of “crisis capitalism” and set the standard for the years ahead.

Decades of the Cups

In June 2009, President Manuel Zelaya (PL) was escorted out of the Presidential Palace and sent into exile in Costa Rica. He was removed from power by an alliance between the military, the Supreme Court and the country’s elite. Zelaya had opened up to alternative political alliances, where he listened to the demands of social movements to a greater extent, and allowed for increased cooperation with the leftist cooperation body ALBA. The opening represented no major political course change, but threatened parts of the elite’s power position. As a consequence of the coup , several of the neighboring countries introduced trade blockades against Honduras, and along with the global financial crisis, new economic downturns occurred.

Since 2009, several legislative and elective coups have been implemented. In 2015 and 2016, a new Attorney General, new representatives to the Supreme Court and to the Election Tribunal were to be elected. The selections were ruled by President JOH, and secured allied positions in all positions. The processes are therefore considered a series of technical coups to consolidate the president’s power.

The most recent coup occurred during the 2017 presidential election and is referred to as an election coup. JOH had worked for reelection from his first day as president, even though it violated the constitution. He paid for media support and party colleagues’ silence, and the Constitutional Court eventually allowed re-election. Observers from the EU and the Organization of American States (OAS) first recommended conducting a new election due to irregularities, distrust of the outcome and lack of transparency during control counts. However, they changed their minds after a while, went well for the election result and Juan Orlando Hernández was seated.

Political situation

In the lawsuit against the brother of President Juan Orlando Hernández in August 2019, it was revealed that the president has been under investigation by the United States Federal Drug Police since 2013. The reason is suspicion that his election campaign was funded with funds from various drug traffickers. “The lawsuit against the former PN party vice president,” Tony “Hernández, brother of current president Juan Orlando Hernández, has shown how politics is linked to organized crime in this country,” writes the online newspaper Contra Corriente. “Tony” Hernández was convicted in October 2019 for having manufactured and smuggled weapons and tons of cocaine into the United States for over ten years.Actor repeatedly mentioned President JOH as an accomplice during the trial, but he has not yet been charged.accused of bribes, this time from drug baron Fuentes Ramirez. JOH has denied all allegations of involvement in organized crime.


In Honduras, 86,085 people were killed between 2000 and June 2019 according to Countryaah. This means that an average of one person was killed every two hours, and about 12 people daily. Being a woman or divorced makes you especially vulnerable to violence and contributes to coercion in the search for security or international protection. In 2018, one woman was killed every 18 hours, 350 women killed in total, and according to the UN, 28% of women over the age of 15 have experienced close relationships. These are reported numbers and the dark numbers are huge. Honduras has one of the world’s most stringent abortion laws. The consequences Conservative gender roles, violence, anti-abortion laws and a lack of sexual education show the extent of forced pregnancies among adolescents.

Threats to democracy

Several human rights organizations point out that today’s Honduras has more in common with the authoritarian Latin American military regimes in the mid-1900s. Over the past decade, Congress has passed a number of controversial laws, including amendments to the Criminal Code that criminalize protest and critical journalism. The vast majority have been passed behind closed doors, facilitating the suppression of political opponents and social movements.

Honduras is the country with the largest military concentration in Central America. Violence, narcotics and the serious security situation are used as arguments for increased militarization. In practice, the military takes control of everything from state security work, to immigration authorities, customs and telecommunications companies, and Honduras has the largest scale of political violence and human rights violations in the region. The military is one of the contributors to this. Following the coup in 2009, military violence has increased. Transfers to the military have more than doubled between 2009 and 2018, and in 2016 transfers to the military increased by 38%. In comparison, transfers to health increased by 15%.

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