LatinNews Daily - 26 January 2022

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HONDURAS: Crisis escalates as rival congresses begin sitting

On 25 January Luis Redondo and Jorge Cálix, who both claim to be the president of Honduras’s congress, held inaugural legislative sessions.


Honduras’s new 128-member unicameral legislature was due to begin sitting yesterday. The convening of the rival sessions follows the schism which has emerged in the leftist Partido Libertad y Refundación (Libre) of president-elect Xiomara Castro who is due to take office tomorrow (27 January). The crisis erupted when Libre rebels (since expelled from the party), with backing from the right-wing Partido Nacional (PN) of outgoing President Juan Orlando Hernández named Libre rebel Cálix as congress president last week. This broke a deal to name Redondo, a legislator from Partido Salvador de Honduras (PSH), a Libre ally, whose support had been key to Castro’s decisive electoral victory in November 2021. The convening of parallel legislatures deepens Honduras’s constitutional crisis, raises major questions about the legality and legitimacy of both, and suggests instability and tensions are set to intensify.

  • The session convened by Redondo, whose leadership Castro recognises and who had been sworn-in last week by 49 deputies, took place in the national congress building with 49 legislators in attendance and alternates making up the necessary quorum.
  • The session called by Cálix, who had received 79 votes (including the Libre rebels and entire PN bench), was carried out virtually via video conference but with the participation of 75 deputies.
  • The dispute stemmed from complaints by the Libre rebels that, as the party was due to have the most legislative seats (50) compared with ten for PSH, 44 for PN and 22 for the other main opposition Partido Liberal (PL), the congress president should have come from Libre.
  • Castro, who has ejected 18 Libre rebels so far, has accused the rebels of “imposing the plan of the corrupt elite directed by… Hernández” – a reference to the multiple corruption allegations overshadowing the outgoing administration and Hernández himself, who has been implicated in drug-trafficking allegations in the US.
  • Both Redondo and Cálix are intent on pressing ahead with their legislative agendas. Redondo said he would propose laws in line with Castro’s manifesto, such as re-establishing an international commission against corruption and impunity in Honduras (CICIH). The congress presided over by Cálix yesterday repealed a law on the classification of public documents related to security and national defence (approved in January 2014 and known as the official secrets law), which was also in Castro’s manifesto.
  • The situation in Honduras continues to draw international concern. Yesterday in a press briefing Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary-General said “the Secretary-General is following political developments in that country. He calls for constructive and peaceful dialogue to resolve differences within the framework of the constitutional process.”
  • On 24 January US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said: “We call on political actors to remain calm, to engage in dialogue, to refrain from violence and provocative rhetoric, and we urge their supporters to express themselves peacefully while respecting the rule of law.” Honduras’s relations with the US – which is sending a delegation headed up by Vice President Kamala Harris to Castro’s inauguration – had been tested under the outgoing PN administration, due to the allegations implicating Hernández and the government’s backsliding in anti-corruption efforts on his watch.

Looking Ahead: Tensions could rise ahead of Castro’s swearing-in ceremony tomorrow. She retains the backing of the police (which guaranteed the security of those participating in the congress session over which Redondo presided) and the military (FFAA) which issued a statement on 21 January guaranteeing her swearing-in tomorrow and calling for elected officials to respect the constitution.

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