Honduras: MACCIH and the presidential reelection

With the arrival of the MACCIH, the hour of truth has also come for President Juan Orlando Hernández.

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The government of the Republic, with the support of the Organization of American States (OAS), installed the Mission of Support Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH, for its Spanish acronym). This mission is the response of the government and certain international and local NGOs in the face of the demands of the movement of the indignados who insisted, and will continue to insist, if the Mission were to fail, the installation of an International Commission against Impunity in Honduras (CICIH).  They claim this commission should have the authority, as was the case in Guatemala, even to prosecute crimes and present direct accusations against the corrupt elements and the corruptors, including the president of the Republic.


Although the mandate of the MACCIH is more limited, Honduran society hopes that their members can pursue crime and denounce the actions of the operators of justice when they present accusations to the prosecutors, in order for those involved in emblematic cases of corruption to be brought before the courts of justice.  This could include cases such as the bankruptcy of the National Corporation of Investment (CONADI), the squandering of resources from the pardon of the foreign debt, the illegitimate debt from the Coup d'état, the case of the Social Security, INJUPEM, IMPREMA, TRANS 450, the Health Secretariat, the National Police and funding of the campaigns of the political parties.


It is hoped, and this is a national clamor, that if its recommendations are not heeded or duly attended to, the MACCIH will not back down, as in Guatemala; that it will confront the operators of justice such as the prosecutor’s office if they do not provide sufficient and timely information in the cases investigated, or if they archive the dossiers and slow down the technical, legal and administrative processes. These actions should be executed before any decision to abandon the country due to a lack of support by these operators; this would be embarrassing for the Government of the Republic since they had insisted on the commission’s creation. The MACCIH has a great ally, the Honduran people, which is hoping for justice in the face of the ruthless pillage of public funds and resources.  They also hope that the investigation will begin at the top and not with those at the bottom of the ladder, as occurred with the reform and cleansing of the national police.


One theme that is not very visible in the functions if the MACCIH is the presidential reelection and the use of State resources and international cooperation for political propaganda. That is to say, the reach of the Mission in investigating the sources of financing for promotion and vote-buying in relation to the presidential reelection (i.e. payments to national Congress members to obtain their vote in favour of an immediate reelection), and its impact on the living conditions of the population (more unemployment and poverty) as resources are diverted to the fulfillment of a political objective.


In this sense, curiously with the arrival of the MACCIH, the hour of truth has also come for President Juan Orlando Hernández. As had been foreseen before the election of the new Supreme Court of Justice, the Convention of the National Party soon to be celebrated has only one item on its agenda: presidential reelection, irrespective of what the Congress of the Republic says when the Members are consulted on the kind of reelection they want: continuous, indefinite, or alternating.


The fact is that the newly elected magistrates appear willing to continue with the mandate of their predecessors, that is, to give full support to the resolution to approve the presidential reelection despite the Constitution of the Republic. This is a commitment pacted among the so-called "caciques" of bipartisanship and President Hernández, beyond the political will and alignment of the magistrates, who are seen as very unlikely to oppose this blood pact among "brethren".


In the face of this, the strongest opposition to the reelection will come from the PAC and their leader, Salvador Nasralla. Having been betrayed by three of the parliamentary members elected on his slate, who voted in favour of the Bipartisan list, he can now only recur to the street trenches and social networks to protest against the imposition of the candidature of President Hernández. In the case of LIBRE, there will be less opposition since Mel Zelaya aspires to be reelected, as the opinion polls rate him above his wife Xiomara Castro. A rebirth of the "Antorchas" can also be expected, whose battle-flag will be opposition to the reelection as well as the imprisonment of corrupt elements with the arrival of MACCIH.


Although important actors, such as US Ambassador James Neaton, believe that it is not convenient at this time to propose to the MACCIH which issues to address, the theme of reelection is just around the corner. At the same time, it is important to advance with the demand to the government of Honduras for a) the creation of elite units to combat corruption and impunity b) the selection of Judges and Fiscals discarding the fraudulent procedures that were followed, c) acceleration of extraditions and seizure of property arising from corruption and drug trafficking, d) ensuring the financing of the MACCIH (some 8 million dollars in 2016); e) revising the actions of members of the Superior Court of Auditors (TSC) and the National Commission of Banks and Insurance (CNBS), severely questioned by Honduran civil society organizations, f) elimination of the Law of “Secrets" and the Law of "Escuchas" [telephone tapping]; g) the ratification of the Mission Agreement by the Congress of the Republic and its socialization throughout the national territory.


The MACCIH will mean the arrival in the country of experts in financial crime, which is justified by the growing accusations that the Honduran Banking System has been penetrated by drug trafficking and has been given over to the laundering of assets, including from leaders of political parties. This is an ongoing task since many resources obtained through corruption have been laundered in this way and the balance does not tally, since what has been stolen is much bigger than what has been recuperated in goods.


Finally, the political campaigns can delay the results obtained with the recommendations and actions of the Mission, but it is important to consider that in Honduras, political issues are directly tied to corruption and impunity.



Tegucigalpa, DC, 25 de febrero de 2016.


(Translated for ALAI by Jordan Bishop)


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