Reps. Grijalva, Honda, Hank Johnson Urge Secretary Kerry to Speak Against Militarization of Civil Society Ahead of Honduran Election
Washington, D.C. – Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva, Mike Honda and Hank Johnson yesterday sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging the State Department to monitor the potential militarization of the electoral process ahead of Honduras’ Nov. 24 presidential vote. The lawmakers highlight a “pattern of concerted attacks targeting human rights defenders and the opposition” and call on State Department officials “ to guarantee a level playing field in the weeks preceding the election, and to be entirely neutral in its public and private messages to this country.”
As the letter points out, “In November 2009, while the military coup in Honduras was still in force and basic civil liberties violently repressed, the State Department announced it would recognize the outcome of the presidential election even before the ballots had been counted” – a move that damaged our credibility in the region and signaled a lack of oversight. The letter urges Kerry not to repeat that mistake and to watch the next several weeks closely for signs of intimidation or excessive government force.
“Ignoring repression and closing our eyes to anti-democratic abuses are not in anyone’s interest, least of all ours,” Rep. Grijalva said. “Taking serious steps to ensure the peaceful transition of power will pay dividends for us and for the people of Honduras. We can play a positive role in the region by being constructive watchdogs and helping ensure that the will of the people is fairly expressed. We can’t afford a repeat of the disaster that hit Honduras a few years ago, and we’re asking Secretary Kerry to make sure we don’t see one.”
“The United States cannot turn a blind eye to attacks on civil liberties, human rights and the democratic process in Honduras,” Rep. Johnson said. “The right to elect the next president in a free and fair election process must be guaranteed to Hondurans. Violence, repression and anti-democratic actions have no place in Honduras or anywhere in the region. These actions do not serve Hondurans, and do not serve our country’s best interest. It is for this reason that I have joined my colleagues in urging Secretary Kerry to communicate this message to the Honduran government, and to do everything within his power to support a fair, free and transparent elections process in November.”
“Amidst serious allegations of attacks on human right and civil liberties, the United States cannot remain silent and idle,” Rep. Honda said. “That is why I am proud to join my colleagues in urging Secretary Kerry to support fairness and equal access to the democratic process. Doing so will benefit Honduras, our bilateral relations, and our global neighborhood.”
-Full text of letter attached-