HomeNewsAnalysisWinner of Honduras’ Election Will Likely Be ‘Iron Fist’ Security
ANALYSIS

Winner of Honduras’ Election Will Likely Be ‘Iron Fist’ Security

HONDURAS / 29 NOV 2017 BY ANGELIKA ALBALADEJO EN

Honduras’ controversial election remains in limbo, but the results not so much. As is evident across the region in recent years, tightly contested elections or controversial presidencies lead in one direction: towards "iron fist" crime control policies.

Whoever wins the presidency in Honduras will face stiff resistance. If President Juan Orlando Hernández wins the contentious election, he will face lingering doubts about the legitimacy of the results. International observers and opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla have raised concerns over fraud allegedly committed by Hernández’s National Party.

In fact, preliminary election results indicate that Nasralla may become Honduras’ next president. But should he be declared the winner, Nasralla will be facing an opposition-held congress that has supported Hernández’s hard-line security policies.

The unsteady footing with which either presidential hopeful will enter office makes it likely that hard-line security strategies, which produce short term results and build political cache, will continue.

In fact, recent examples from elsewhere in the region suggest that presidents often use iron fist policies to consolidate their political power when entering office with a weak mandate or when facing an opposition-held congress or other strong oppositional forces.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Security Policy

For example, Brazilian President Michel Temer was not voted into office, but instead assumed the position following the controversial ousting of his predecessor Dilma Rousseff. Temer has faced low approval ratings amid mounting allegations of his involvement in criminal activities and a backdrop of economic and security crises. In response, Temer has pursued hard-line tactics such as military deployments to existing crime hot spots. These tactics have failed to produce long-term solutions but have helped Temer build his political capital by appearing “tough on crime” in the eyes of Brazilians who see few alternatives.

Felipe Calderón, who was Mexico’s president from 2006 to 2012, also serves as a clear example of these dynamics. Calderón entered office with both a contentious victory and an opposition-held congress in place. Calderón launched Mexico’s war on drug cartels by going around congress and deploying the military in the fight against organized crime. Calderón’s aggressive approach was popular among most Mexicans, though it actually lead to increases in violence and crime throughout his presidency.

In El Salvador, President Salvador Sánchez Cerén has used "iron fist" policies since his tight victory in the 2014 presidential elections. Police have even taken to extrajudicial killings of alleged gang members.

The fact is that militarized approaches to combating crime are gaining popularity across Latin America, as many citizens say they are losing faith in democracy amid corruption scandals and concerns over electoral tampering. And presidents who enter office with questionable legitimacy or strong opposition are likely to continue using hard-line tactics to build their political capital.

Honduras certainly provides politicians with plenty of justification to take this road. While homicides are down, they are still six to seven times the world average, and gang violence and large drug trafficking groups remain major security issues.

Winning the tight race amid allegations of fraud would likely lead Hernández to double down on his widely popular security measures to regain political points. Hernández centered much of his re-election campaign on recent security improvements, including the reduction in the homicide rate, which he attributes to the hard-line militarized approach he has taken against the country’s powerful gangs.

If Nasralla wins, it is unclear whether or not he would be as supportive of iron fist policies as his predecessor since he is a political neophyte. But lessons from the rest of the region show that his most expedient option to build his own political capital would be to simply apply his own form of hard-line security policies.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

CARIBBEAN / 14 DEC 2017

When it comes to understanding crime and violence, police records only tell us half the story (literally). But to design…

ELITES AND CRIME / 18 NOV 2019

A longtime influence peddler in Guatemala will spend just over four years in a US prison after pleading guilty to…

MEXICO / 5 APR 2018

The refusal of Mexico's government to recognize agreements between a Catholic bishop and organized crime groups regarding electoral violence in…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…