Victory or prison
Citizens of Honduras voted Sunday for a new president. The results of the election could remove the governing National Party from office for the first time since it took power in a 2009 military coup that ousted leftist President Mel Zelaya, who sought to align Honduras with Hugo Chavez's Venezuela.
Xiomara Castro, Zelaya's wife, currently leads in the polls, NPR reports. National Party candidate Nasry Asfura is in second place. His campaign has benefited from the National Party's entrenched political machine, which distributes cash payments and other gifts to voters, but has been marred by allegations that Asfura embezzled millions of dollars during his two terms as mayor of Tegucigalpa, the nation's capital city. The third-place candidate, Yani Rosenthal, returned to Honduras in 2020 after serving a prison sentence in the U.S. for money laundering.
Observers have expressed concerns that violence could erupt if a clear result does not emerge quickly. Twenty protestors were killed during demonstrations that followed the 2017 election. Political instability and gang activity in Honduras have already prompted some Hondurans to flee the country. Many of these refugees joined migrant caravans that traveled north through Mexico toward the U.S. border.
The incumbent president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, has been accused by U.S. prosecutors of funding his campaigns with drug money and could be extradited to the U.S. if his party loses power, according to The Washington Post. His brother, former Honduran lawmaker Tony Hernández, is already serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison following a 2019 conviction for smuggling tons of cocaine into the United States.