What the Headlines Reveal About Honduras' Presidential Candidates

10/31/2013 02:35 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

You'd be surprised how much you can learn about a Honduran presidential candidate by just reading the headlines in newspapers, particularly if you lay out numerous headlines on a page and read them over and over again to yourself sotto voce. After a while, you start to gain a sense of the kind of person the candidate is and what may be on his or her mind, as well as the type of government you might get if that person ends up President of Honduras.

If you scan the headlines regarding the top four presidential candidate over the past month, for example, you'll notice some interesting patterns. You can decide for yourself what these patterns are, and whether you like or dislike what you see. As you do so, keep in mind that whatever you see now could well be the kind of headlines, or at least "themes", you will see on a weekly basis during the next four years in Honduras if that particular candidate is elected on November 24.

Obviously, if you were to select headlines from other weeks during the past couple of years, you may see markedly different patterns. But with the election so near, I figure that going back a month should provide a good feel for what is going on in the minds of the candidates. After all, it is now that the candidates should be sharpening their messages and revealing to the public their true natures. The pressure is building, and that is often when you can best observe the philosophies, priorities, tendencies, self-image, and inherent strengths and weakness of a person. Some rise. Others remain average. Still others shrink or fall flat on their face.

The following headlines, which I've translated from Spanish to English, were picked from the top five Honduran Spanish-language newspapers since about the end of the third week in September: El Heraldo, El Tiempo, La Prensa, La Tribuna, and Proceso Digital. I selected as many as I could find online, excluding those that were too redundant or were so bland that they said nothing of any consequence. The number of headlines for each candidate is simply an indicator of how often the candidates made the news.

Juan Orlando Hernández
If Libre wins, the schools will remain closed. I will not rest until we have the military police in each neighborhood. Mel Zelaya turned over to us the most violent country on earth. The population has reason not to have confidence in the national police. Juan Orlando Hernández assures that he feels attacked. I will make it so that you can live with dignity. If Libre wins, chaos will return to education. Juan Orlando Hérnandez presents a plan to create jobs. "Choluteca will have its battalion of military police." Juan Orlando Hernández will continue with the Bonus 10 Thousand. Why didn't Libre clean up the police? We have a 7 point lead over Libre. Juan Orlando Hérnandez asks for massive support at the polls.

"In my government, we will be like a Lempira indian." A fiscal and social dialogue is proposed by Juan Orlando Hernández before members of Cohep. "The attorney general will convince me of he imprisons the leaders of the teachers' unions who steal from Imprema." The issue of the constituent assembly that the Libre candidate proposes polarizes society. Juan Orlando Hernández presented his "plan for all for a better life". Juan Orlando Hernández says that If he wins, He will not government Like Pepe Lobo.

Salvador Nasralla
They use Pavón to attack mee. Andrés Pavón accuses Nasralla of selling credentials. Nasralla: "I am not linked to Libre". Nasralla: I will carry forward the letter of the plan for the nation. PAC wants to correct a "grave error". Nasralla implores that the Enee and Hondutel not be sold; "Wait until the PAC arrives". Salvador Nasralla assures that Faper is a a suitcase party. Nasralla minimizes Andrés Pavón. They accuse Nasralla of an anti-electoral campaign. A duel of accusations between Pavón and Nasralla. PAC insists on "verification and rectification" of the vote counting procedures.

Nasralla: Julieta has good intentions but she forms part of a corrupt structure. Andrés Pavón: "He is like the cherry on the dessert". PAC presidential candidate: Pavón has told me that he attacks me to become famous. "The UD, DC and Faper are conspiring." Andrés Pavón: Party from his alliance has already bought credentials from Nasralla. Salvador Nasralla: "I have been sent by God".

Mauricio Villeda
"The time for laziness is over." Villeda promises to improve conditions for permanent employees within tourism. "That we not get used to living with violence," urges Mauricio Villeda. Presidential candidate Mauricio Villeda proposes "gps police". Villeda will provide incentives to generate jobs. Mauricio Villeda promises rehabilitation centers. Mauricio Villeda visits the mothers of murder victims. Mauricio Villeda proposes an agriculture bank. Mauricio Villeda offers jobs in rural zones. Mauricio Villeda again demands the cleaning up of the national police. Mauricio Villeda: "We want the police on the streets". Mauricio Villeda shines shoes in Tegucigalpa. Mauricio Villeda: "We will demonstrate what can be done when you work with the people." Villeda asks that the funds from the security tax be audited. Villeda declares war on extortion.

Villeda: "I will fight head on against corrupt people". On the streets of the capital, Villeda promises to reinforce the security system and credit for small producers. Mauricio Villeda: "We will move to having a decent government." Mauricio Villeda: "The correct thing is to clean up the police quickly." Villeda: "I am not going to fight against private companies, I believe in them." Mauricio Villeda questioned how there can be corruption and no healthcare. "There is no money to repair the highways because it has been stolen." Villeda with unemployed people: Municipal governments will have microcredit for the youth. Villeda: "A Libre government would be like a monster with three heads and tentacles." Mauricio Villeda attracts votes from independents. The "sluggishness" of doing nothing for the poor ends on November 24.

Xiomara Castro de Zelaya
Xiomara Castro meets with evangelical pastors. Xiomara should ask Patricia Rodas for help. Xiomara de Zelaya: "We can wait no longer... No more of the same." They denounce Libre supporters for making threats. Xiomara Castro: "The more than 150 tax laws should Be simplified." Libre would elect the minister of education only with the authorization of Casaña, Oliva and Recarte. Xiomara Castro: Libre took the first step toward the reconciliation of Hondurans. Libre candidate reiterates that the constituent assembly is the solution to the problems of the country.