Caracas, December 5, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro denounced Sunday what he termed a “fraud” in Honduras’ hotly contested presidential election.
“The people of Honduras want peace, democracy, respect for their will. The people of Honduras says no to fraud by the pro-imperialist right-wing,” the head of state affirmed, speaking during his weekly television program “Sundays with Maduro”.
Honduras has been rocked by mass protests in recent days as electoral authorities moved to declare rightwing incumbent Juan Orlando Hernandez the victor despite allegations of widespread irregularities.
The day after the November 26 vote, the candidate for a coalition of leftist parties, Salvador Nasralla, led Hernandez by five points with 70 percent of ballots counted. At the time, Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) official Marco Marcos Ramiro Lobo called the lead “irreversible”.
However, following a mysterious 36-hour shutdown by the TSE in which no new results were announced, Nasralla narrowly fell behind in all subsequent reporting.
Nasralla and his allies in the Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship have accused the TSE – headed by Hernandez ally David Matamoros – of tampering with the results and have demanded a recount. They view Hernandez's government as a continuation of the 2009 US-backed coup which deposed elected President Manuel Zelaya, plunging the country into a deadly period of violence which has seen hundreds of activists murdered.
Meanwhile, authorities have responded to mounting protests with a 10-day curfew and police crackdown, which has led to at least seven deaths, according to local press. Nonetheless, as of Monday, a number of police units, including the elite US-funded Cobra squad, have refused to follow government orders to repress the protests.
The response by Tegucigalpa has been met with sharp rebuke by a number of regional governments, including Venezuela, Bolivia, and Cuba.
In a statement Saturday, Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry slammed what it called “repression and excessive use of force” on the part of Honduran authorities, whom it accused of “striking a blow to democracy”.
Bowing to pressure Tuesday, Honduras’ TSE announced that it would conduct a recount of results from over 5,000 polling places, amounting to nearly 30 percent of all votes cast.
Despite the allegations of fraud, the US State Department has voiced its support for Hernandez, certifying his government is in compliance with human rights and anti-corruption statutes necessary for the receipt of US aid – just two days after the controversial election.
Washington's stance is at odds with its longterm ally, the Organization of American States, which called for a vote recount Tuesday after several days of relative silence on the matter.
Leftist Latin American leaders like Maduro have, for their part, accused the US of complicity in Honduras’ alleged election fraud.
“Behind the fraud in Honduras, is the imperialist government of the United States,” he said Sunday.
Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, was a fierce opponent of the 2009 coup that ousted former Honduran President Manual Zelaya, leading regional efforts for the return of the democratically elected leader.