Honduras tense as voters head to the polls
Today's presidential election is widely viewed in Honduras as a way out of Latin America's worst political crisis in decades.
Tegucigalpa, Honduras; and Mexico City
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Presidential elections scheduled today have been widely viewed here as a potential way out of Latin America's worst political crisis in decades. But as polls open, resolution feels as far off as ever – with calls for boycotts from Honduran voters, warnings that elections will not be recognized from countries abroad, and the fate of Mr. Zelaya anything but clear.
Some 4.6 million Hondurans are eligible to cast ballots in a race that has conservative candidate Porfirio Lobo of the National Party in the lead, trailed by Elvin Santos, who belongs to the Liberal Party of both Zelaya and Roberto Micheletti, who took over the presidency after Zelaya was sent in military plane to Costa Rica June 28.
Both candidates supported Zelaya's ouster for allegedly pushing forward with constitutional change to end presidential term limits. Zelaya, who snuck back into Honduras in September and sought refuge at the Brazilian embassy, where he still remains today, denies the charge.
Zelaya supporters boycott
Zelaya's supporters have called for a boycott of elections. Juan Barahona, a protest leader who has taken to the streets over the past five months, says he will stay indoors today. "We've told people to stay at home and not to vote," he says.
Ms. Guandique says she is heeding the call – both in protest of Zelaya's ouster and because she fears repression by military and police. "I won't vote because there's no security," she says.
Nor is there evidence, she adds, that her vote will make a difference. Guandique voted for Zelaya in the 2005 elections, but she says the leading candidates backed his ouster and only represent the interests of the rich. "The only crime Zelaya committed was helping the poor," she says.
Tight security in place
The Honduran military has emphasized that voters should not be worried about security, army spokesman Col. Ramiro Archaga said ahead of polls. "We have plans in places to deal with people who try to interrupt the elections," including 17,000 soldiers and 12,000 police officers called to duty nationwide. He said authorities will respect the rights of those in favor of Zelaya.