Stand in Solidarity With Honduras
In recent days, we have received urgent calls for solidarity from our fellow Jesuits and lay colleagues in Honduras, as well as from the Jesuit leadership of Latin America.
On November 26, Honduras held presidential elections. Early results showed the opposition’s candidate, Salvador Nasralla, in the lead. Soon after, though, results suddenly stopped coming in. When the polling system came back up after a 36-hour delay, the Honduran Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) reported that incumbent Hernández was then in the lead.
The TSE’s long delay, its lack of transparency during that time, and the close alignment of its authorities with the ruling government sparked doubt about the legitimacy of election results. Thousands of Hondurans took to the streets in protest in the days following the election. In response, police and military have tear gassed and shot at protesters, leaving over 30 dead and many more wounded. Radio Progeso, a Jesuit-sponsored human rights ministry, denounced an attack on one of its radio towers as sabotage and a clear threat to freedom of expression.
On December 17, despite clear concerns about the legitimacy of the elections and calls for a full recount or new elections, the TSE declared the incumbent, Juan Orlando Hernandez, the winner of the elections. Since that time, repression of protesters by state security forces has only increased.
Latin American Jesuits made clear their recommendations for a path forward toward democracy and respect for the rights of the Honduran people, including nullifying the November 26 elections and naming a transitional government that convenes a new electoral process with international observation. This concern is reflected in the calls of many civil society organizations as well as the Organization of American States for new elections with international observance. Unfortunately, the U.S. government formally recognized the election results announced by the TSE, rather than being a strong voice for democracy and justice.
The situation remains tense. Since that time, Jesuit Fr. Ismael (Melo) Moreno has been targeted in a defamation campaign that falsely accuses him of links with organized criminal groups and efforts that incite violence. He and other staff at Radio Progreso have been receiving death threats.
We share the grave concern of the Latin American Jesuits and ask you, in solidarity with our Honduran sisters and brothers, to please join us in asking the U.S. government to call for democracy, justice, and respect for the rights of the Honduran people.