Honduras is celebrating renewed hope with the overwhelming victory of its first female president-elect Xiomary Castro, in elections held on the weekend. Castro’s victory comes 12 years after her popularly elected husband President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown in a US supported coup in 2009.
The period since then had seen the installation of right-winged governments plagued with widespread corruption and producing despair which saw thousands of poor Hondurans taking the difficult trek on foot north through Mexico in attempts to reach the United States.
Preliminary results saw Castro amassing over 52% of the vote with her nearest rival National Party contender Nasry Asfura with just 34.1% with 52% of the vote tallied.
Minutes after Asfura’s concession, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also congratulated Castro and said Washington looked forward to working with her.
“We congratulate Hondurans for the high voter turnout, peaceful participation, and active civil society engagement that marked this election, signaling an enduring commitment to the democratic process,” Blinken said.
Castro’s election brought much hope for the poor and in particular for members of the large Garifuna community which has been under siege since the coup which toppled former President Zelaya. Garifuna leaders campaigned strongly for president-elect Xiomara Castro and were seen photographed alongside the winner while the results were being announced.
Jubilant celebrations broke out at Castro’s campaign headquarters on Sunday as the vote count progressed and her lead held up, with supporters chanting “JOH out” in reference to two-term President Juan Orlando Hernandez of the National Party.
Hernandez is deeply unpopular and has been implicated in a drug trafficking case in a U.S. federal court. He denies wrongdoing, but could face an indictment when he leaves office.
“We have turned back authoritarianism,” Castro told supporters late on Sunday, surrounded by her Libre Party faithful, aides and family, including her husband Zelaya, who was ousted when business and military elites allied against him, ushering in a dozen years of National Party rule.