Hondurans vote to replace controversial leader | BBC News |
In her final campaign rally, Ms Castro promised to "pull Honduras out of the abyss" of "a narco-dictatorship and corruption".
Strong words about the state of the nation but they clearly ring true for many voters.
Married to the former President Mel Zelaya, who was ousted in a coup in 2009, she has stood on a platform of "democratic socialism", which includes plans to decriminalise abortion, create an anti-corruption commission, bring down soaring utility bills and dismantle drug-trafficking networks. More worrying for Washington, she also plans to re-establish diplomatic ties with mainland China at the cost of relations with Taiwan.
Student Mario Aguilar sees Xiomara Castro as "the least worst option".
But like him, many are ready to punish the ruling National Party and outgoing President Juan Orlando Hernandez for a series of corruption scandals, ruinous economic mismanagement and poor handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Natural disasters, too, have played a part. Thousands still live in perilous conditions after two huge hurricanes, Eta and Iota, battered the country last year, prompting a sharp rise in immigration north. [ehh ... emigration no?]
In the final hours before polling day in Honduras, a few dozen activists gathered inside the Liberal Party's headquarters in the capital, Tegucigalpa, for some last-minute training on the main plank of their electoral platform.
On a flatscreen TV, they watched their white-shirted presidential hopeful, Yani Rosenthal - who lies third in the polls - extol the virtues of the universal basic income, a proposed family stipend of 1,500 lempiras ($60; £45) a month for the country's poorest.
... and, as Yani Rosenthal's critics are quick to point out, he is in no position to lecture anyone about corruption - he spent three years in a US prison for laundering drug money.
"Rosenthal doesn't represent change," says economics student, Mario Aguilar, dismissively. As we drive past a group of flag-waving Libre Party supporters, Mario says he is most likely to vote for their candidate, the frontrunner and former First Lady, Xiomara Castro.
Treasury Sanctions Rosenthal Money Laundering Organization | Press release - Oct. 7, 2015 |
Jaime Rolando Rosenthal Oliva; along with his son, Yani Benjamin Rosenthal Hidalgo; and his nephew, Yankel Antonio Rosenthal Coello, provide money laundering and other services that support the international narcotics trafficking activities of multiple Central American drug traffickers and their criminal organizations.
As a result of OFAC's action, all assets of these individuals and entities that are under the jurisdiction of the United States or in the control of U.S. persons are frozen, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.
Yani Rosenthal did not spend three years in prison ...
Powerful Honduran businessman seeks "compassionate" release from US prison due to coronavirus | Univision - May 5, 2020 |
Yani Rosenthal, a 54-year-old former Honduran politician who twice ran for president, is seeking early release from a Miami federal jail where he is serving time for drug money laundering, arguing that his health is in jeopardy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The former politician who twice ran for president, pleaded guilty in 2017 to one count of money laundering in the United States and received a substantially reduced three-year sentence after paying a $2.5 million fine.
He began serving his sentence two years ago in Miami federal prison. His release is currently scheduled for August 8, 2020.
But his lawyer on Friday filed a petition for early release in federal court in New York, citing a law that allows "prisoners with lower levels of risk and lower needs" to be confined to their homes for up to six months.
"Keeping Mr. Rosenthal in prison for a few more months will not make a marginal difference in the deterrent effect of his punishment, as weighed against the severe risk to his health and well-being if he remains confined," he stated.
Rosenthal denies he was knowingly involved in drug money laundering, noting that his family's meat packing business accidentally became entangled in the cattle operations of 'Los Cachiros," a notorious Honduran drug gang.
How the Elites and Narcos Do Business, Politics in Honduras | Humanosity - Oct. 19, 2019 |
In October 2015, US prosecutors charged Jaime, Yani, Yankel, as well as a company lawyer, Andres Acosta, with drug trafficking and money laundering, among other crimes. But as opposed to the Tony Hernández case, the Rosenthal case did not go to trial. Yani, Yankel, and Acosta pleaded guilty and were sentenced independently. Presumably because of their cooperation in theirs and other cases, US authorities did not press Honduras to extradite Jaime, who died in Honduras in January 2019.
What's more, many of the only details of the relationship between the Cachiros and the Rosenthal family came from InSight Crime's interview with Jaime Rosenthal and his daughter Patricia in June 2015, in which Jaime described how the Rivera Maradiaga family -- then a group of cattle rustlers -- began selling their cows to the Rosenthal-owned meat-packing plant.
"They were good clients for us," Patricia Rosenthal told InSight Crime, before handing over a copy of a check written by the head of the Cachiros, Javier Rivera Maradiaga.
The convicted Jewish money launderer who might be Honduras' next president | JPost - Aug. 8, 2020 |
A banker and former lawmaker, Rosenthal landed in the northern city of San Pedro Sula on a private plane and was greeted by supporters, some with banners that read "Yani for president".
Honduras' political elite has become entangled with traffickers that use the Central American nation as a staging post for cocaine moving from Colombia to the United States.
"I spent the past six months locked up in a six-foot-by-six-foot cell," Rosenthal said. "I don't know what's happening here in Honduras, so I'm going to take a bit of time."
President Juan Orlando Hernandez's brother, a former lawmaker, last year was convicted of drug trafficking in a U.S. trial in which accusations were aired linking the president to cartels. Hernandez has denied wrongdoing.
Rosenthal, 55, a member of a prominent and politically connected business family, held the post of minister of the presidency from 2006 to 2008.
Legislator Christian Saavedra said Rosenthal was the best to unite the Liberal Party, one of the country's two traditional ruling forces, and that some 14 of its 26 congress members support him.
Until the next military coup to re-instate the corrupt clique of powerful business families with wealth tied to narco trafficking ...
U.S. Interference and Troubles In the Americas
... the verdict against eight men accused over the murder of Honduran indigenous environmentalist Berta Cáceres will be handed down on Thursday after a controversial five-week trial plagued by allegations of negligence and cover-ups.
... the coup in Honduras has exposed divisions between Barack Obama and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. When the coup occurred on 28 June, the first statement that came out of the White House was a major blunder. Although the US and international press gave Obama a pass, the diplomatic community could hardly help noticing that the White House issued the only official statement in the world that didn't have a bad word to say about the coup when it happened.
Refugees: Honduras Drugs Cartel and US Business Interests
Related reading ...
Lanny Davis ties to Hillary Clinton and the military coup in Honduras ...
A Labyrinth of Deception: Secretary Clinton and the Honduran Coup
U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens warned Clinton about the coup a week in advance. He threatened the plotters that the "heavens would fall" if Zelaya was removed, whether by kangaroo court or by outright coup. Washington and the world community would completely choke them off. However the State Department had also sent John D. Negroponte to consult with the golpistas.
As U.S. Ambassador from 1981 to 1985, Negroponte funded and operated the Contra War out of his massive Embassy in Tegucigalpa. He had direct relations with Honduras's Battalion 3-16, which illegally abducted, clandestinely tortured, and summarily murdered well over 200 victims. He disregarded their atrocities--though he did intervene in selected cases, in order to preserve their secrecy.
Negroponte has always vociferously denied the existence of the death squad--as a hoax by the Russian-influenced enemies of freedom. This was not a case of mixed messages from the Department: the Ambassador had already been sidelined, neutralized by his own superiors.
US Policy Failure on Honduras, Zelaya Returns! | May 28, 2011 |
Ties to corruption are universal and has set back democracy.
Juan Orlando Hernández y Benjamin Netanyahu inauguran oficina de Honduras en Jerusalén
Biden invites Israel to global democracy summit, snubbing Egypt, Jordan, Turkey | TOI |
Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States whose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was dubbed an "autocrat" by Biden, did not make the list.
In the Middle East, only Israel and Iraq were invited. The traditional Arab allies of the US -- Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates -- are all absent.
But the United States did invite Taiwan, which it does not recognize as an independent country but holds up as a model democracy.
The US move is guaranteed to further inflame tensions between the two superpowers.
"I agree Taiwan more than qualifies -- but it does seem to be [the] only democratic govt invited that the US govt does not officially recognize. So its inclusion is a big deal," tweeted Julian Ku, a Hofstra University law professor whose specialities include China.
India, often called "the world's biggest democracy," will be present despite increasing criticism from human rights defenders over democratic backsliding under Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
So too will Pakistan, despite its checkered relationship with Washington.
US, Poland, Hungary land on 'backsliding democracies' list | DW News |
US on 'backsliding' democracy list for first time
In the United States, where corporations and wealthy individuals can give immense amounts of money to political candidates, and partisan gerrymandering of electoral districts is becoming more commonplace, President Joe Biden is set to host a virtual summit on protecting international democracy at the beginning of December.
"The United States is a high-performing democracy, and even improved its performance in indicators of impartial administration (corruption and predictable enforcement) in 2020. However, the declines in civil liberties and checks on government indicate that there are serious problems with the fundamentals of democracy," Alexander Hudson, a co-author of the report, told French news agency AFP.
My recent comment here.
Select Committee subpoenas individuals involved in planning and organizing the rallies and march preceding January 6th attack