LIVE: Xiomara Castro assumes the presidency of Honduras

the leftist Xiomara Castro, the first woman to govern Honduras, assumes this Thursday a country hit by poverty, migration, drug trafficking and corruption, while quelling a crisis in Parliament that threatened her leadership.

62 years old and wife of the ousted former president Manuel Zelaya (2006-2009), Castro ended a right-wing supremacy with a coalition led by his party, Libertad y Refundación (Libre).

At 11:42 (local time), Xiomara Castro began her tour of the National Stadium in the company of her husband, Manuel Zelaya, and their children. It was received with applause, cheers and a standing ovation from the public, who sing and shout “Yes it could!”

Xiomara Castro (EFE)

The event is attended by international delegations, heads of state, and the main associates of the new government that takes office today, a historic day since she is the first woman to lead the country in its history.

The King of Spain, Felipe VI, He is one of the special guests who arrived for the inauguration of President Xiomara Castro.

From dawn they armed large lines in the National State, where some 29,000 people will participate in the swearing-in ceremony. They arrive with flags from Honduras and red, from the Free Party. Before that, there was a Mass in the Hermitage of Suyapa. Meanwhile, singers performed at the stadium where the public waited for the start time, set for noon (local time, 18 GMT).

Until the early hours of the day, outgoing president Juan Orlando Hernández had not confirmed whether he would attend the event.

Mass of thanks before the inauguration ceremony
Mass of thanks before the inauguration ceremony

“Twelve years of struggle and 12 years of resistance. Today begins the people’s government. Good morning, Honduras,” Castro wrote at the beginning of the day on Twitter.

The list of guests at the inauguration is, in any case, extensive and quite diverse. Old allies of Chavez, like Argentine Vice President Cristina Kirchner and former Bolivian President Evo Morales are on the payroll. The Mexican president is also summoned Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador Y Gabriel Boric, the newly elected president of Chile and the new face of the Latin American left, as well as the king philip from Spain.

The most talked about visit, however, is that of the US vice president, Kamala Harris, and what it may mean for the Castro presidency. That it is the number two of the White House who arrives in Tegucigalpa is an important sign that Washington will bet on alliances with the Honduran in a region in which other options do not seem viable: the flirtations with Russian capital of President Alejandro Giammattei, in Guatemala , and the constant confrontation between Salvadoran Nayib Bukele and the Biden administration have left a lot of ground open for Castro.

Arrival of Kamala Harris in Honduras (Reuters)
Arrival of Kamala Harris in Honduras (Reuters)

Although Castro was described as a communist in the campaign, “The United States has understood that she does not represent a radical left, but rather a hope for the Honduran people”, considered the analyst Eugenio Sosa, analyst and professor at the National University.

Castro needs international support to renegotiate a foreign debt that exceeds 11,000 million dollars. For former Foreign Minister Edgardo Paz, this issue goes through an arrangement “with the multilateral institutions, where Washington has a lot of influence.”

The new president of Honduras, who as first lady during the three years and five months that her husband was president had a low profile, politically, he made his way after the coup against Zelaya on June 28, 2009, when he promoted constitutional reforms that the law did not allow him, although that did not justify his overthrow.

After the coup, Castro took to the streets with thousands of his compatriots to protest and demand a return to constitutional order, enduring even the rejection and insults of some sectors that agreed with the coup, including many businessmen and opposition politicians.

Castro greets his followers this Thursday in Tegucigalpa (AFP)
Castro greets his followers this Thursday in Tegucigalpa (AFP)

Opposition before starting

During the last few days, Castro has had to deal with the rebellion of 20 deputies of Free, the political party she founded with her husband, Manuel “Mel” Zelaya, the president deposed by a coup in 2009. The Libre rebels joined 44 deputies from the National Party and 18 from the Liberal Party to displace Luis Redondo, a legislator loyal to Castro, from the presidency of Congress., but who is not a member of Libre, but of the Salvador party of Honduras, the other actor in the coalition that won the presidency

The dissidents of Libre have argued that the presidency of Congress corresponds to that party. However, as the Honduran historian Jorge Amaya explains to Infobae, the opposition electoral alliance that won the elections had been sealed last year with a protocol according to which, if it won, Libre would handle the reins of the Executive and the Salvador party of Honduras those of the Legislative.

With the mutiny, the opposition to Castro elected a congressional board of directors, while those loyal to the president did the same with votes from alternate deputies. A) Yes, The president reaches her day zero with two congresses and the first challenge to political power that the polls gave her.

Castro supporters at the stadium to witness the ceremony (AFP)
Castro supporters at the stadium to witness the ceremony (AFP)

Beyond the crisis in Congress and the mere key reading of the domestic distribution of power, the alliance between dissidents from Libre and the National Party speaks of another more serious issue: the immediate future of Juan Orlando Hernández, popularly known as JOH, the man whom Xiomara Castro ousted from power and on whom weighs the possibility that a United States court, that of the southern district of New York, requested his extradition for crimes related to drug trafficking.

Analysts consulted by Infobae in Tegucigalpa come in the Libre mutiny a pact with Hernández’s National Party aimed at shielding him from extradition. Once Castro takes office, JOH will lose the political protection that the presidency has given him since 2017, when the US justice system began investigating his brother, Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández, for drug trafficking.

For now, JOH will take refuge in the Central American Parliament, as a deputy, which will shield him from legal proceedings in his country, but, outside the presidency, it will be more difficult for him to protect himself from extradition.


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