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FUERA JOH: Riots rage on in Honduras

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FUERA JOH: Riots rage on in Honduras

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TEGUCIGALPAIn the aftermath of Honduras’ general election in 2017, a referendum plagued by fraud allegations, Hondurans throughout the country have risen up to protest political corruption.

 

Troubles began in late Nov. 2017. Businessman Juan Orlando Hernández (also known by his initials, JOH) won the election with 42.95% of the popular vote—barely a percent more than obtained by his opponent, Salvador Nasralla. Protests and demands for a recall surfaced less than an hour after the final count was televised.

 

According to officials with the Organization of American States, the entire election process was “plagued by irregularities, had very low technical quality and lacked integrity.” The official ballot count was suspended several times, prompting mild confusion and unrest even before the announcement of JOH’s win. The real protests arose when Nasralla, who had been substantially ahead throughout most of the tally, was declared to have lost by about 50,000 votes.

 

Since JOH’s inauguration, Hondurans have taken to the streets, participating in both peaceful and violent demonstrations against the president. As of Jan. 31, there have been 38 fatalities, more than 20 injuries, and approximately 1,675 arrests.

 

Jan. 27, saw the most recent mass protest; thousands of Hondurans marched toward Tegucigalpa that morning, setting tires ablaze in the streets and blocking two major highways heading north and south of the capitol. Horns blew, firecrackers were thrown, and bonfires raged on out of police view. Along the way, marchers chanted “FUERA JOH,” a revolutionary slogan which means ‘out with the president.’

 

Police used tear gas and water cannons on many protestors, and some even resorted to hand-to-hand combat. One cell phone video shows activist José Ramos and four others being gunned down after throwing rocks at a line of military police. All five men were clearly empty-handed when the police opened fire, and morgue sources confirm that all five men were shot in the backs of their bodies. They were all running away.

 

Allegations of excessive force and police brutality have been raised, but Ramos’s family and others like them fear there will be no justice—some even say they’ve been threatened into silence.

 

“[The death toll] is probably higher—some people haven’t reported the deaths out of fear; other deaths haven’t been investigated,” one Honduran morgue worker said.

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