As Honduran elections near, US diplomats seek end to leadership crisis
A US delegation held talks with Honduran leaders Zelaya and Micheletti Wednesday. With the Nov. 29 presidential elections end the crisis?
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Many nations have threatened not to recognize the results of the Nov. 29 race if constitutional order is not first restored. On Tuesday, 16 members of the US Congress sent a letter to President Obama urging him to do the same – which could indefinitely prolong Central America's worst political crisis in decades.
Behind the world stage, however, Honduran electoral officials are on a whirlwind mission – trying to educate electoral observers and boost turnout for what might be the most controversial race its officials have ever witnessed. "We must continue on anyway," says Juan Garcia, a spokesman for the Honduran Supreme Electoral Court (TSE).
On a recent Saturday, a group of roughly 30 Hondurans – homemakers, young professionals, blue-collar workers – sat in a sweltering elementary school classroom in the historic center of Tegucigalpa learning the country's electoral law.
For six hours, they simulated election day, pulling votes out of ballot boxes as their instructor, Harold Pacheco, showed them how to analyze results
This kind of electoral training is taking place across the country. TSE aims to reach 180,000 such pupils this year – up from 30,000 in the previous presidential elections in 2005. "The vote is even more important this year because of the political crisis," says Mr. Pacheco.
Will November's election solve the crisis?
Many Hondurans hope that election day resolves the crisis sparked after Mr. Zelaya was kicked out of the country June 28 for considering constitutional change. But the election will only become a solution if Hondurans take it seriously, and many, particularly those who support Zelaya, say they plan to stay home.
"No way, never," says taxi driver Marco Tulio shaking his head, when asked if he plans to cast a ballot. "What is the point of voting if they can just take out of office the one who is democratically elected?"
Honduran electoral officials do not just face opposition at home. The international community has also balked at the legitimacy of the race. The letter by members of the US Congress, sent Oct. 27 ahead of the US envoy visit, spelled it out clearly:
"The vast majority of our neighbors in the region, including Brazil and Mexico, have clearly indicated that they will not recognize the results of elections held under the coup regime," the letter stated. "It is time for the administration to join this growing hemispheric and international consensus and unambiguously state that elections organized by an undemocratic government that has denied critics of the regime the right to free speech, assembly, and movement, cannot and will not be considered free and fair by our government."