US Interference and Legislative Polarization: Delving into Honduras’ Political Crisis
In the midst of intense legislative renewal in Honduras, accusations of authoritarianism and threats to the separation of powers have surfaced. The US has expressed concerns over these developments, but are these observations mere democratic considerations, or do they hint at a deeper political interference?
The Controversy over Constitutionality and Legislative Rupture
According to democratic process expert Gustavo Irías, the appointment through a standing committee in the National Congress of a provisional post for the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General—which took effect from November 1 with Johel Zelaya and Mario Morazán respectively—is constitutional. Yet, this has occurred amidst a polarization of the nation’s political forces, leading to significant division.
There has been a splitting point where, practically at this stage, there are in essence two congresses: one represented by the standing committee and the deputies of the ruling party, and a legislative majority composed of opposition deputies. “This predicament undoubtedly ushers in an institutional crisis and governance challenge for the National Congress,” Irías warns, highlighting the resultant legislative gridlock and the mounting difficulty in fostering political consensus due to opposing stances.
The Historic Intrusion of the US
When asked whether the statements made by the American ambassador and senators are genuinely motivated by democratic interests or suggest political interference, Irías does not hesitate to recall how Honduras has historically suffered under US policies. He remarks that Honduras has gained some degrees of autonomy and sovereignty through its foreign policy, diverging from Washington’s stance on issues such as Taiwanese independence and the military siege of Israel against Gaza.
Indeed, under President Xiomara Castro’s administration, Honduras aspires to become part of a multipolar world, engaging with blocs like BRICS and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). However, conservative sectors in the US perceive this shift as a potential threat to their geopolitical interests. “Beyond concerns over institutional deterioration or crisis, there are always national security interests at play—a longstanding perspective maintained by the US,” Irías notes.
The Role of Foreign Minister Reina
In response to the assertions made by US Ambassador Laura Dogu during the legislative renewal process of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Honduras’ Foreign Minister Enrique Reina summoned her to express the country’s dissatisfaction with her stance. This is not the first time that Reina has warned the US representative about overstepping boundaries.
“With this action, the foreign ministry aims to showcase a new foreign policy approach—not as subjects, but rather based on respect, collaboration, and adherence to diplomatic norms,” emphasizes the democratic advocate Irías. The positions taken by Reina largely hold force amidst already tense relations between Presidents Castro and Biden, yet they continue to engage cooperatively in strategic areas like migration and the fight against drug trafficking.
The Legislative’s Relationship with the Judiciary Under Scrutiny
The opposition, mainly constituted by the Liberal Party and the National Party of Honduras, is set to face a new legislative challenge involving collaboration and contention with the ruling Freedom and Refoundation Party (Libre), which backs Zelaya and Castro. This is especially pertinent in the upcoming appointment of new members to the Supreme Court of Justice.
“A crucial test will be the challenges to the constitutionality of the interim appointments of the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General. We hope that the Constitutional Chamber will issue a verdict before the National Congress recess ends on January 25. This will reveal the current state of health between the legislative and judicial powers,” Irías assesses.
The Lingering Shadow of the 2009 Coup
The 2009 coup still casts a significant shadow over Honduras, with the present polarization reflecting a prolonged crisis in democracy marked by various afflictions in political, economic, environmental, human rights, and corruption areas. “We are still amidst a democracy crisis, with the legislative crisis potentially exacerbating it, fueled by intense internal political polarization and international pressures, chiefly from the US government,” concludes Irías.
Amid these tumultuous events and strained relations, the future of Honduras’ political stability hangs in the balance as it contends with both internal divisions and external influences.