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McGovern Statement on Honduran Elections

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Washington, December 22, 2017 | comments
Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) – a strong voice in support of human rights, ending corruption, and advancing the rule of law in Honduras – issued the following statement in response to the announcement by the U.S. Department of State congratulating Juan Orlando Hernandez on his successful reelection as President of Honduras:

“I am angry and deeply disturbed by the State Department’s announcement today congratulating Juan Orlando Hernandez on his successful re-election as President of Honduras.

“The recent elections in Honduras were deeply flawed, chaotic and marred by numerous irregularities. These failings are detailed in reports issued by observer missions from the Organization of American States (OAS) and the European Union (EU). When tens of thousands of Hondurans took to the streets in peaceful protests against potential electoral fraud, they were met by excessive force from Honduran security forces, leading to the deaths of as many as two dozen civilians. The lack of integrity in the electoral process led the OAS Secretary General to call for new elections.

“I believe supporting the call of the OAS Secretary General and holding new elections under international auspices would be the better course of action. Right now, very few Hondurans have confidence in the results and the country remains deeply polarized. For the U.S. government to pretend otherwise is the height of blind folly and it will surely harm our influence and undermine our priorities throughout the region in the days and weeks to come.

“If we fail today to support democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Honduras, then we will not be able to find lasting solutions to the plagues of drug trafficking, criminality, violence, and corrupt institutions, politicians and political parties – all of which are factors driving waves of refugees and migrants to abandon their homes and seek safety and a better life for their families elsewhere.

“Such solutions require a credible, legitimate government that has the support of its people and which is genuinely committed to the respect of basic human rights and the rule of law.

“Congress approved aid to Honduras to help address the violence, lack of opportunity, and institutional weakness that have been driving migration. It tied that aid to evidence that Honduras is making progress on human rights, the rule of law, and ending corruption. I do not see signs of progress in Honduras right now, and I and many of my colleagues in Congress will be hard-pressed to approve the release of funds to President Hernandez’s government.

“I will continue to raise my voice in support of human rights and the rule of law, and I strongly urge the Administration to do much more in pursuit of democracy and ending corruption in Honduras than it has thus far. Regrettably, I believe today’s announcement by the State Department is an error and a significant set-back.”

McGovern recently joined several of his colleagues on two letters (which may be read here and here) to the State Department asking that it support the call for new, fair elections in Honduras. As Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the U.S. House of Representatives, he has closely monitored the human rights situation in Honduras for a number of years.
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