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The Geopolitics of Election Approval: The US Response to Honduras and Venezuela

12/17/2013 02:44 pm ET | Updated Feb 16, 2014
  • Azadeh Shahshahani Legal & Advocacy Director, Project South; Past President, National Lawyers Guild

By Lauren Carasik, Susan Scott and Azadeh Shahshahani

The authors, members of the US National Lawyers Guild, compare and contrast procedures in this year's presidential elections in Honduras and Venezuela, as well as the quick embrace by the United States of results of the more problematic of the two.

Credible concerns about electoral fraud in Honduras remain, yet Secretary of State John Kerry sanctioned the results just 17 days after the election, before challenges to its legitimacy had been fully resolved. Kerry's official statement, which came quickly on the heels of the Organization of American States' (OAS) similar congratulations to Juan Orlando Hernandez on December 11, lauded the election's record turnout, commended a process that he characterized as "generally transparent, peaceful, and reflect[ing] the will of the Honduran people" and praised the Honduran government's commitment to "promoting fiscal stability and economic growth, combating poverty, and guaranteeing security, justice, and human rights for all Hondurans."

The Obama administration's prompt recognition of ruling National Party candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez, who is expected to continue his predecessor's friendliness toward US geopolitical and business interests, stands in stark contrast to its steadfast and unfounded refusal to give its imprimatur to the election of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Maduro's April victory was quickly recognized by most governments in the region, the British and Spanish governments and others. Maduro's challenge to US hegemony in the region and the neoliberal agenda it promotes has prompted US intransigence on Maduro's election, even though it was declared clean, free and fair by election monitors from the Union of South American Nations, the National Lawyers Guild in the United States and others.

Although complaints of electoral malfeasance in Honduras surfaced before the polls closed, US Ambassador to Honduras Lisa Kubiske took to the airwaves within hours of the close of polls to announce her own cheerful conclusion - that the elections had been transparent and peaceful - and she continued to congratulate the Honduran people for days afterwards. Both Kerry's and Kubiske's statements completely ignore the fact that the majority of Honduran voters voted against the notorious right-wing president of the "coup" Congress and winner, Juan Orlando Hernandez, and that many of the 36.8 percent of the ballots which the Electoral Tribunal (the TSE - controlled by Hernandez's National Party) claims he won are contested by two of the opposition parties. Shortly after the close of the polls, LIBRE party officials denounced discrepancies between the official results and the actual tallies ("actas") provided to LIBRE representatives at the voting stations. LIBRE claims that a review of 80 percent of the actas in their possession indicates a 1.8 percent margin of victory for their candidate, Xiomara Castro de Zelaya.

This piece originally appeared in Truthout. To read the rest of the article, visit the Truthout website. Copyright, Truthout.org. Reprinted with Permission.

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