EDITOR’S NOTE: The following letter was sent to Latino Rebels on Monday night. The letter signing started on social media, and we are publishing here.
December 4, 2017
Supreme Electoral Tribunal
We, the undersigned scholars of Central American, Latin American and Chicano-Latino/a Studies, call on the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) in Honduras to provide a full account of all its activities related to the election in a transparent and timely manner to the Honduran populace who exercised their suffrage in a peaceful and democratic manner on Sunday, November 26, 2017.
We have followed Sunday’s elections closely and with optimism for fair and evenhanded proceedings to set the course for Honduras’ future. We are, however, concerned that the TSE’s actions, particularly since the polls closed and as votes were tallied, have been secretive, lacking in transparency and accountability.
The TSE has kept the Honduran people in the dark as to vote-counting procedures and progress. It is unclear, for example, where vote tallies are coming from and what are the outcomes in various jurisdictions where vote totals have already been counted. The delay in TSE reporting is unorthodox, inexcusable, and especially troubling, as the silence of the TSE coincided with the revelation that a completed tally of 57% of the vote showed a significant 5% lead by the Alliance in Opposition to the Dictatorship over the outgoing president’s Nationalist Party, 45.17% against 40.21%.
The TSE’s silence and lack of transparency regarding its actions, combined with the reality that the TSE is not fully independent of the incumbent, have exacerbated the citizens’ distrust in the tribunal, the election process, and Honduran democracy itself. The TSE must alleviate legitimate concerns about fraud, misinformation and vote tally irregularities that have taken place since Sunday. We urge you to provide a full public accounting of the actions of the tribunal and each of its members since Sunday, and to provide verifiable assurances that there has not been deliberate manipulation of votes or undue influence in the vote count process. Additionally, the TSE or an independent body must investigate all voting irregularities at polling places during the election and after polls closed.
Organizations like the OAS and the EU have expressed consternation at the lack of transparency and the withholding of critical information from the populace. Troubling reports from International observers cite heavy militarization on the entry roads to Tegucigalpa, effectively terrorizing the population who have lived previous military coups d’état. Reports also state that voting areas were militarized, and there were aggressive campaigns outside voting precincts. Nationalist party activists, for example, were actively and visibly committing fraud, such as fighting for tally sheets, changing results, and possibly tampering with or stealing ballot boxes.
International observers have also stated that the following Departments have not been counted in the overall total despite having evidence from tally sheets by local voter centers: Valle, Santa Barbara, Olancho, Atlántida, Colón, Comayagua, Copán, Cortés, Choluteca and Gracias a Dios.
The TSE must prove its independence from the current presidential administration and must work to restore the trust of the Honduran people, who are increasingly losing faith in Honduran institutions of government and democracy itself. Malfeasance or further secrecy and inefficacy by the TSE recall the worst periods of military dictatorship in Honduras. We call on the TSE to act justly and independently, to denounce fraud and to offer full transparency in its activities. In the event of signs of fraud, we urge the TSE to undertake immediate and independent investigation and prosecution of such fraud and engage in a process of recount.
Cc: Juan Orlando Hernandez
Mel Zelaya Rosales
The same letter was also published in Spanish: