In the polls, though, Hernández is far behind the front runner, Xiomara Castro Zelaya, the wife of deposed President Zelaya and the leader of a new opposition party, LIBRE, that arose out of massive popular opposition to the coup.
As Honduras hurtles toward its elections, the State Department has yet to denounce the military takeover of policing. U.S. funding for the Honduran police and military has in fact increased every year since the coup. The U.S. Embassy has yet to speak publicly about the killing of at 16 LIBRE activists and candidates since June 2012, or the concerted pattern of repression of the political opposition since the coup.
Nor has the State Department denounced the military takeover of policing. U.S. funding for the Honduran police and military has in fact increased every year since the coup.
A year ago, under Congressional pressure, the State Department did withhold funds to National Director of Police Bonilla under the Leahy Act, which bans U.S. funding of security forces that have committed human rights abuses. But it has not otherwise implemented the Leahy Act, and the U.S. Embassy now admits that it continues to work closely with Bonilla, although in March Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield announced it had “no contact” with him.
Congressional opposition to U.S. support for the Lobo government, however, continues to mount. In June, 21 senators, including top leadership, sent a letter to Secretary of State Kerry expressing alarm over human rights abuses by U.S.-funded police and military. In July, the House of Representatives held a bipartisan hearing to investigate human rights abuses in Honduras.
The Obama administration should heed the voices in Congress and stop funding Honduran state security forces immediately. It should denounce the militarization of the Honduran police, distance itself from the corrupt Honduran government that has promoted it, and do everything it can to ensure a free and fair election in November.
Dana Frank is a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz.