Xiomara Castro to be sworn in amid political turmoil in Honduras
Tensions have been growing ahead of Castro’s swearing in following signs of attempts by conservative sections to undermine her proposals for transformation.
Xiomara Castro of the Liberty and Refoundation Party (Libre Party) will take office today as president of Honduras. She scored a historic victory in the general elections held on November 28, 2021, putting an end to 12 years of far-right rule in the country cemented through coups and fraud. However, over the past week, diverse maneuvers by conservative sectors, which resulted in the creation of a parallel congress, have put the very fragile Honduran democracy under pressure.
Betrayal in the Libre Party
On January 20, Xiomara Castro called a meeting of the Libre Party’s 50 elected representatives and their alternates to discuss the implementation of the Bicentenary Agreement made between the Libre Party and the Salvador Party for the elections. One key point of the agreement was regarding the election of the leadership of the legislature. Shortly after the meeting was set to begin, the Libre Party’s general coordinator, former president Manuel Zelaya, said on Twitter that 20 elected Libre deputies were absent from the meeting.
Among those absent was Jorge Cálix, one of the most voted deputies. Information circulated that the absence of the 20 deputies was due to their disagreement over the point of the Bicentenary Agreement which stated that a member of the Salvador Party would be elected as president of the Congress.
In a communique released later that night, the Libre Party called the absence of the deputies an “omen of counterrevolutionary betrayal to the party and the Honduran people that defeated the narco-dictatorship of the National Party.” They further highlighted that elected president Xiomara Castro will not tolerate the lack of respect of the vote of the Honduran people that elected the Alliance of the Libre Party and the Salvador Party, made official through the Bicentenary Agreement, nor the making of alliances with “representatives of organized crime, corruption, and drug trafficking.”
The statement also outlines that Xiomara Castro will not accept to be sworn in by a President of Congress that “came from betrayal” and will instead be sworn in on January 27 by a judge.
The same night, the defector deputies from Libre, in a meeting with deputies from the National Party, announced that they planned to elect Jorge Cálix and Yavhé Sabillón as president and vice-president of the Congress. In a poignant tweet immediately after the news broke, Xiomara wrote “the betrayal has come to fruition.”
The following day, Manuel Zelaya called for an extraordinary meeting of the party’s national coordination and elected deputies and announced the expulsion of 18 members of the party who “betrayed the blood of our martyrs and the project of refounding our homeland” (two of the original 20 retracted their position against Xiomara).
With the official session to vote on the leadership of the Congress set to take place on January 23, a day before, Xiomara called for supporters to join her to keep watch outside the National Congress building and called for an end to “the dealings of organized crime, corruption, and drug trafficking that represent [former president] JOH (Juan Orlando Hernández) within Libre to stop the transformation of Honduras.”
Thousands of people rallied in support of Xiomara and the Libre Party outside the Congress building on the night of January 22 and into January 23, preventing the conservative sections from taking over the buildings and interfering with the elections of congressional leadership.
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