So, it’s 2009 in Honduras, and the President, Mel Zelaya is hinting he’d like to repeal term-limits and deal himself a second term. The US Embassy, which doesn’t like the left-of-center Zelaya much, says it doesn’t like those hints. When the Honduran Military and Congress stage a coup and toss the democratically-elected Zelaya out of office, the Embassy, Hillary Clinton’s State Department and Barack Obama’s White House all seem to like that fine. And the US likes and supports the newly-installed President Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo Sosa, notwithstanding repeated murders of Pepe Lobo’s journalistic critics and political opponents, and human rights workers.
Throughout Lobo’s term as President, and that of his successor, the current President Juan Orlando Hernandez, this seeming paradox has defined Honduras. It is considered America’s best Central American ally in the war on drugs and has gotten some $114 million in American aid for its security forces since the coup, and it is considered a key transshipment point for narcotics on their way from South America to the United States.
How can this be? Well, as part of the case which led Fabio Lobo, former-President Pepe Lobo’s son, to plead guilty to drug trafficking, the head of a local cartel said, the guy to see to steer drugs safely through Honduras was current-President Orlando Hernandez’s brother. Then, in an even bigger drug case, involving the nephews of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, an even bigger cartelista said, actually the guy to see about safe passage for narcotics through Honduras was President Hernandez’ chief of Security Julián Pacheco Tinoco.
So, now it’s 2017 in Honduras and President Hernandez has packed his Supreme Court to end term-limits and let him run for a second term – what a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report called “a strategic effort to consolidate the levers of government power, … within his personal grasp.”
But the US Government likes Hernandez and so this time, a Honduran President running for re-election is fine with us. So, at the end of last month the election was held.
And that’s when all Hell broke loose in Honduras…
Christopher Sherman is a correspondent in Mexico City for The Associated Press. In 2016 he shared in an Overseas Press Club Award for his work documenting “The Other Disappeared,” civilians killed in the drug war around Iguala, Mexico. He moved to Mexico in October 2014 after spending six years with the AP in McAllen, Texas on the U.S.-Mexico border. At the border he wrote about U.S. law enforcement corruption, drug trafficking and immigration, including an unprecedented wave of Central American children entering the United States by themselves. Sherman was a 2010-11 Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he explored the lasting effects of armed conflict on civilians. Before joining the AP, Sherman was a reporter at the Orlando Sentinel newspaper in Florida for five years. His first newspaper was The Daily Record in Baltimore, Md. A native of Hagerstown, Md., Sherman received a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and a bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College in Vermont.