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Honduras: On the Inauguration of Xiomara Castro

Today, we celebrate with the Peoples of Honduras as they welcome President Xiomara Castro into office and officially put an end to the twelve year rule of a narco regime that has plundered their country. The historic election of President Castro, which saw the highest voter turnout in the country’s history, is testament to the steadfast organizing of grassroots social movements who came together in resistance to the 2009 U.S.-backed military coup. President Castro’s LIBRE party (Libertad y Refundación) was born out of the National Front of Popular Resistance, which brought together a diverse array of Hondurans - from Indigenous, Afro-Indigenous, Campesino, LGBTQ, and Labor movements - to strategize and mobilize their resistance efforts. In spite of the violent political repression they faced, the willpower of the People to transform their conditions made possible this historic Inauguration Day. We honor this victory for the social movements of Honduras and recognize that without a unified majority in Congress, President Castro faces many challenges in her pursuit to transform a system of governance that has long been devastated by the stronghold of the economic elite, stubborn political corruption, and intervening U.S. interests.

SOA Watch and the international solidarity community will remain especially vigilant of the United States’ role in Honduras. It is very rare that the Vice President of the U.S. attends an inauguration in Latin America but today Vice President Kamala Harris led a U.S. delegation to attend the Inauguration in Tegucigalpa. Members of the delegation included Samantha Power of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and Jose Fernandez and Brian Nichols of the U.S. Department of State, among others. The presence of this U.S. delegation signals the importance that the White House is placing on maintaining geopolitical control of Honduras as President Xiomara Castro assumes power. Vice President Harris is leading U.S. efforts to purportedly address mass migration from Central America and therefore, her relationships with government leaders in the region are critical for the roll out and implementation of the U.S. Strategy for Addressing the Root Causes of Migration in Central America. 

Historically and recently, U.S. policies towards Honduras have prioritized and benefited U.S. economic and military interests in the region at the expense of the Honduran People. The Biden-Harris Strategy for Addressing the Root Causes of Migration for Central America threatens to do more of the same in the name of economic growth and workforce development. Its proposed solutions are not new or innovative but rather a continuous promotion for more security aid/militarization, and investment-enabling neoliberal reforms to make way for Multilateral Development Banks, International Financial Institutions, and private companies to operate in Honduras. This U.S. corporate agenda is at direct odds with some of President Castro’s commitments to the People of Honduras.

In the weeks, months, and years to come, President Xiomara Castro has pledged to repeal multiple laws that have passed since the coup which operate to grant impunity to corrupt government officials, repress political dissent, and sell Honduras’ land and natural resources off to the highest bidder. 

The new President plans to dissolve ZEDEs (Zones for Employment and Economic Development), these free trade zones dubbed “model cities” are unconstitutional company towns that can operate with complete autonomy and create their own independent political, judicial, and economic systems over predesignated lands throughout the country. ZEDES are brazen post-coup neoliberal projects dispossessing Hondurans of land and rights, their abolition is especially critical to the future of Campesino, Indigenous, and Afro-Indigenous movements whose very existence is tied to the land. 

As President Castro assumes power, we call on the U.S. to finally respect the autonomy of the Honduran people and their elected officials. Partnership with the U.S. can no longer mean that Honduras is expected to take marching orders from Washington and calling that democracy. It can no longer mean the imposition of Washington’s will on the People of Honduras. If President Castro prioritizes the interests of the Peoples of Honduras above the profit interests of the U.S., the U.S. must not intervene or interfere, but must finally respect the right of Hondurans to build the country that they want to live in.