The virtual president-elect of Honduras, Xiomara Castro, is usually defined as “feminist, antipatriarchal, revolutionary and inclusive”. At age 62, if the preliminary results of the elections held on Sunday are officially confirmed, she will become the first female president in her country’s history.
Her overwhelming electoral victory came 11 years after the overthrow of her husband, the former president Jose Manuel Zelaya. Castro, from the Partido Libertad y Refundación (Free, from the left), obtained 53.1% of the votes with a 20-point advantage over the candidate of the ruling National Party (from the right), Nasry Asfura, who reached 33.87% after the scrutiny of more than 50% of the votes.
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Xiomara Castro left the role of first lady behind and led a political and social movement in Honduras
Rolando Sierra, director of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) in Honduras, told TN that the great merit of Castro has been to build in recent years a consensus between different parties and economic and social sectors with a marked speech of conciliation and outside the traditional parties.
“He is coming to power in a party alliance made up of various sectors, both political, economic and social, ranging from left to moderate positions. The common denominator is a certain rather social democratic tendency”, He defined.
For Sierra, the virtual Honduran president “is a direct consequence of the same coup in 2009” that overthrew her husband when she faced a crisis of powers while attempting a resisted constitutional reform. Zelaya was then forcibly removed from the presidential residence in pajamas and sent on a military plane to Costa Rica.
How did Xiomara Castro articulate a new political alliance to come to power in Honduras
Xiomara Castro was born in Teguicipalga, the capital of the Central American country, to a rich family of landowners. At 16 she married her cousin, Manuel Zelaya, with whom she had five children.
After graduating in business administration, she began to take her first steps in politics in the female branch of the traditional Liberal Party in the city of Catacamas. From there, she campaigned for her husband in the 2005 elections that ended up taking Zelaya to the presidency.
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After the 2009 coup, Castro took refuge in the United States embassy for fear of being assassinated, as she said at the time, but finally joined the party mobilizations that demanded Zelaya’s return to power. That way, became the main face of the protests that shook the Central American country that year.
The break with the Liberal Party and the formation of a new political alliance
Then Xiomara Castro began to gain popularity as a symbol of the National Front of Popular Resistance that demanded the restitution of Zelaya in power. And from there he began to forge alliances with different political parties, social movements and economic sectors. Two years later, after her husband returned to the country, the Zelaya family definitively broke with the Liberal Party and began to build a new political space.
“In these last 12 years, she managed to develop a strategy based on these alliances,” said Sierra. Thus arose Freedom and Refoundation (Free).
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However, in 2013 he lost the presidential elections against the current president, Juan Orlando Hernández. Four years later, she was defeated again, although this time as a candidate for the vice presidency.
Now, in his third attempt, he will replace Hernández himself, who concludes his term amid accusations of drug trafficking in the United States.
What are the main challenges that await Xiomara Castro in Honduras
Among the plans outlined in the campaign, Xiomara Castro assured that he will seek build a democratic socialist state in which the “supreme purpose of society and the State is the human being” and through the abandonment of the neoliberal model, he pointed.
For this aspire call a popular consultation to promote a constitutional reform, the great truncated project of her husband. In addition, it proposes promulgating the law of equality of women, sanctioning sexual and reproductive rights and putting an end to sexual harassment and gender violence. But undoubtedly one of the proposals that brought the most controversy was the “decriminalization of abortion for three universal causes: risk of the mother’s life, that the pregnancy is the product of rape or that the fetus has malformations ”.
But the virtual president faces important challenges in a country hit by violence from the “maras” (gangs), drug trafficking and the poverty that pushes thousands of Hondurans to emigrate to the United States illegally. It is estimated that 6 out of 10 Hondurans are poor. Meanwhile, unemployment went from 5.7% in 2019 to 10.9% in 2020, largely due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The main challenge for Xiomara Castro will be maintain the party alliance once he takes over the presidency. You have to strike a balance to maintain the coalition. And from there the goal will be consolidate a dialogue with all parties and sectors of society to generate certain minimum agreements and consensus to be able to govern, ”Sierra said.
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And he affirmed: “Honduras is a multi-crisis country. We come from political, social and economic crises and due to issues of impunity, corruption and drug trafficking. And the solution is fundamentally through achieve a government of national reconciliation with clear mechanisms of dialogue, participation and meeting of the whole society to reach minimum agreements ”.
Manuel Zelaya, meanwhile, affirms that he will not interfere in his wife’s government: “The one who is going to be inside (the government house) is Xiomara, she is another human being. What are you going to do with me? I dont know, he may send me home to take care of the grandchildren”.