This Sunday, Hondurans have a real chance to elect leaders at all levels of government who are part of a broad movement for social justice that arose out of the 2009 coup that removed the country’s democratically elected government. Rather than the old two-party system, Hondurans will choose from thousands of candidates in 10 parties. Labor and its progressive allies are founding members of the LIBRE party and have fielded candidates at all levels. Hopes for moving down this path to democracy are high, but so are concerns about fraud and electoral intimidation and violence.
Through years of trade union exchanges, U.S. and Honduran unions have built numerous relationships, and some of our friends who led resistance to the coup are now leaders working for a more just and peaceful Honduras in this weekend’s electoral process. One of these allies, Amable de Jesús Hernández, is the current mayor of San José de Las Colinas and is a candidate of the LIBRE party. In the weeks before the elections, he was told that he and all of his family would be killed if he continued to run for office. Amable and others have visited U.S. unions at events like the 2013 Joint Legislative Conference of the California Labor Federation of the AFL-CIO and the California Building and Construction Trades Council in Sacramento, Calif.
In both countries, unions and progressive political leaders are clear about the need to build shared prosperity through a strong labor movement that holds government accountable by demanding social justice, fair wages and inclusive democracy.
For these reasons, the AFL-CIO passed a resolution at its September 2013 convention and has sent a delegation to accompany the election and help shine a bright light on the process. The AFL-CIO is in Honduras to express our solidarity with our trade union brothers and sisters and our concern about their ability and that of all Hondurans to exercise their most basic rights, as voters and activists and as candidates. In a meeting with the U.S. Embassy on Nov. 21, the delegation expressed its concerns and broader labor and human rights issues. For its part, the U.S. Embassy has stated they will have more than 100 observers in place and has supported diverse programs for transparency and a free and fair election. Union members who want to support a fair election should express this concern to their members of Congress, calling on the U.S. Department of State to follow through on these commitments.
The AFL-CIO is participating in a regional delegation of labor representatives to Honduras during the elections because of concerns about the electoral process, but also to witness with great hopes for the historic opportunity Hondurans have in Sunday’s elections. They are joined by union representatives from Canada, Brazil, Panama, Dominican Republic, the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas and Global Unions.
For updates on this story over the weekend, bookmark the Center for Economic and Policy Research's (CEPR's) Honduran Elections Live Blog.