Honduras’s ruling party has conceded defeat in presidential elections, giving victory to the leftist opposition candidate Xiomara Castro and easing fears of another contested vote and violent protests.
Tegucigalpa mayor Nasry Asfura, the presidential candidate of the National party, said in a statement on Tuesday that he had personally congratulated Castro, despite only about half the voting tallies being counted from Sunday’s election.
The former first lady had 53% of the votes and Asfura 34%, con 52% of the tallies counted, according to the National Electoral Council. Tiene 30 days from the election to declare a winner.
Asfura said he had met with Castro and her family.
“Now I want to say it publicly,” the conservative candidate said. “That I congratulate her for her victory and as president-elect, I hope that God illuminates and guides her so that her administration does the best for the benefit of all of us Hondurans, to achieve development and the desire for democracy.”
El secretario de estado de EE. UU., Antony Blink, congratulated Castro minutes later.
“The United States congratulates the people of Honduras on their election and Xiomara Castro on her historic victory as Honduras’ first female president,” Blinken said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the next government of Honduras.”
Castro said via Twitter that Asfura had recognised her triumph. “People, I am not going to fail you!"
Asfura’s recognition of the outcome was a relief to many Hondurans who had feared a contested election after a debacle in 2017 led to street protests that left 23 people dead. Following that vote, the government imposed a curfew and only three weeks later declared the now outgoing president Juan Orlando Hernández the winner despite the Organization of American States observation mission calling for an election re-do.
Fearing a similar prolonged vote standoff and social unrest, many businesses in Honduras’s capital had boarded up their windows for this election.
Mabel Plata, a 28-year-old nursing student, said she appreciated Asfura’s recognition of the outcome. “It is a sign that he is a professional and polite person and went to see Xiomara for the good of the country.”
Plata could not remember another who did the same. “Most always claim to be winners and it’s hard for them to accept defeat.”
Luis Guillermo Solís, the former president of Costa Rica and head of the Organization of American States observation mission, said on Tuesday in presenting the regional body’s preliminary report that Hondurans had overcome some technical difficulties to vote in great numbers.
“Honduran society voted with conviction, happiness and responsibility in a context marked by the pandemic and violence, which was denounced opportunely by the mission,” Solís said. He said the mission had not received reports of other irregularities or fraud.
Castro rode a wave of popular discontent with 12 years of National party governance, which peaked in Hernández’s second term.
She will face major challenges as the Central American country’s president. Unemployment is above 10%, northern Honduras was devastated by two major hurricanes last year and street gangs drag down the economy with their extortion rackets and violence, driving migration to the US.
El martes, Vielka Yossira López folded jeans at a stand in the sprawling Comayaguela street market.
The 24-year-old single mother of two said she did not vote, but hoped for change.
“How am I going to lose a day of work to go vote,” López said. “I don’t work, I don’t eat.”
When López contracted Covid-19, she wasn’t able to work for two months. In that time she sold her bed, her refrigerator, television and cellphone so she could buy food and nappies for her children, aged three and six.
López makes 200 lempiras, sobre $8.25 per day. She pays $1.60 of that just for transportation to and from work each day. Her six-year-old has been out of school for more than a year.
López is hopeful that when Castro becomes president she will bring with her a better understanding of what it takes to raise a family.
“Hopefully there will be a change by having a woman,” López said. “She has children and everything.”