Honduras’ First Female President Promises Reform – but Already Faces a Political Crisis

(TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras) — Hondurans noticed Xiomara Castro sworn in as their nation’s first feminine president Thursday amid a sea of waving flags within the nationwide stadium.

Castro blasted the outgoing administration for leaving her a closely indebted nation the place poverty and an absence of alternative have pushed lots of of 1000’s of Hondurans emigrate lately.

“My authorities is not going to proceed the vortex that has condemned generations of younger individuals to pay the debt taken on behind their backs,” Castro mentioned.

“We’ve the responsibility to revive the financial sector on the idea of transparency, effectivity, manufacturing, social justice, wealth distribution and nationwide income,” she mentioned.
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The 62-year-old Castro faces excessive expectations to show across the deeply troubled nation amid uncertainty about whether or not an unfolding legislative disaster will enable her the assist she wants.

Comparatively clean elections and a wholesome margin of victory Nov. 28 got here as a reduction, however political maneuvering within the run-up to Castro’s inauguration has muddled the outlook and distracted from what was to be a hopeful new starting after the 2 phrases of President Juan Orlando Hernández.

Honduras has been engulfed by a dispute over who will lead the newly elected Congress. Two congressional management groups have been chosen — neither legitimately in line with specialists — and their standoff threatens legislative paralysis at a time that Castro desperately must shortly get to work addressing Honduras’ issues.

Elected lawmakers from Castro’s personal Liberty and Refoundation Occasion backed one among their very own to be the brand new legislative physique’s president Friday moderately than assist Castro’s selection, which had been agreed along with her vp to win his occasion’s assist. Neither group backed down resulting in surreal simultaneous legislative periods Tuesday.

Excessive unemployment, persistent violence, corruption in addition to troubled well being care and academic programs are simply a number of the urgent challenges awaiting Castro.

America authorities, seeing a chance to realize an ally in a area with few buddies, has strongly backed Castro and stands prepared to supply assist. In a attainable signal of tensions within the area, presidents from neighbors El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua weren’t scheduled to attend.

Vice President Kamala Harris, who was given the duty of addressing the problem of Central American migration, met with Castro shortly after the inauguration ceremony.

The 2 mentioned “the foundation causes of migration, combatting corruption and increasing financial alternative,” in line with an announcement from Harris’ workplace.

“Vice President Harris welcomed President Castro’s concentrate on countering corruption and impunity, together with her intent to request the help of the United Nations in establishing a world anti-corruption fee and dedication to advancing vital legislative reforms to allow such a fee to succeed,” the assertion mentioned.

Washington sees areas for cooperation on Castro’s priorities of battling corruption and rising financial alternatives in her nation, two areas that might have an effect on choices by Hondurans on whether or not to remain or attempt to migrate to the USA.

Jason Marczak, senior director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Middle on the Atlantic Council, mentioned, “Honduras has been a really tough associate for the USA, particularly in the course of the administration of Juan Orlando Hernandez for a variety of causes, together with the constant swirl of criminality round him and his household.”

“The anti-corruption agenda being entrance and heart and her (Castro’s) pledges is music to the ears of the Biden-Harris administration, given its concentrate on rooting out corruption not solely in Central America however its international efforts on corruption,” he mentioned.

Castro mentioned once more Thursday she plans to formally invite the United Nations to arrange an anti-corruption mission in Honduras.

That will be welcome by Hondurans like 22-year-old José Manuel Suazo, who waited for Castro’s look contained in the stadium. He mentioned he voted for Castro, and believes many different younger individuals did too, as a result of he desires her to assault corruption and finish impunity.

Castro gained on her third bid for the presidency. She was beforehand first woman in the course of the presidency of her husband, Manuel Zelaya, which was reduce quick by a army coup in 2009.

On Thursday, simply hours earlier than her inauguration, Castro introduced her cupboard picks through Twitter. There have been two girls out of 16 introduced positions. Her son Hector Zelaya, might be her non-public secretary and Manuel Zelaya’s nephew, José Manuel Zelaya, is her selection for protection secretary.

Ramón Sabillón, a former Nationwide Police chief, who lately returned after years residing in exile in the USA, was her choose for safety minister.

In her speech, Castro gave him a prolonged to-do checklist together with guaranteeing “citizen safety, no extra demise squads, no extra silence on femicides, no extra employed killers, no extra drug trafficking, no extra organized crime.”

Many citizens this time mentioned they have been motivated above all by the potential of eradicating Hernández’s Nationwide Occasion from energy. Hernández was first elected in 2013 and a pleasant Supreme Courtroom allowed him to beat a constitutional ban on re-election and run once more in 2017 in an election stricken by irregularities.

Federal prosecutors in New York have repeatedly spoken of Hernández’s purported ties to drug trafficking, alleging his political rise was funded partly by drug income. Hernández has not been formally charged and has repeatedly denied the accusations.

On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Norma Torres mentioned in an announcement she had requested Legal professional Basic Merrick Garland to see that Hernández was indicted and extradited to the U.S.

“President Hernandez has been a central determine in undermining the rule of regulation in his personal nation and in defending and helping drug traffickers to maneuver their supplies by means of Honduras and to the USA,” Torres mentioned. “He has been repeatedly recognized as a co-conspirator in different drug trafficking circumstances and has prompted unbelievable ache to each the individuals of Honduras and the USA. I consider it’s important that the USA maintain him accountable for his legal conduct.”

On Thursday afternoon, Hernández was sworn in as a consultant of Honduras to the Central American Parliament, a standard transition for Central American ex-presidents that affords them immunity from prosecution.

Guatemalan consultant on the regional physique, Amilcar Pop, confirmed Hernández’s swearing in, however mentioned he withdrew from the digital session as a result of “I’m towards his swearing in, that he’s given immunity.”

On Thursday, 48-year-old Carlos Hernández lugged an almost life-size Castro pinata by means of the streets close to the stadium earlier than the inauguration.

“That is now or by no means,” Hernández mentioned. “I do that out of conviction, we would like our president to not fail us.”

He and his household got here as a result of he needed Castro to really feel she had the assist of the individuals. “I had by no means even voted, however I used to be sick and uninterested in the Nationwide (occasion).”


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