Burned buildings. Barricaded roads. Looted stores.
If you were to walk the streets of any major Honduran city at this moment, that’s what you’d probably find.
For several days, hundreds of thousands of Hondurans have led mass protests in Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba and other major urban hubs across the country. The protests are directed at President Juan Orlando Hernández, his ruling right-wing National Party and the country’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal, TSE.
Many believe all three are implicated in rigging and delaying the results of the 2017 elections, held on Nov. 26, in order to favor the country’s conservative status quo.
Countless videos of National Party leaders changing ballots in their favor have surfaced. Numerous reports of emigrants living in the United States and relatives of the deceased claiming people are voting for the National Party in their name have been published. To top it off, TSE official Marco Ramiro Lobo has even admitted that Salvador Nasralla, Hernández’s main opponent, was undoubtedly in the lead in an “irreversible trend.”
Despite this, the TSE maintains that Hernández is in the lead with 42.92 percent of votes compared to Nasralla’s 41.21 percent of votes garnered. Moreover, the electoral body has delayed counting the results of the remaining 5.65 percent of ballot bundles, blaming Nasralla’s leftist Opposition Alliance for refusing to leave the final vote count solely in the hands of the TSE.
Not only has the TSE been hesitant to cooperate with international observers to complete the vote count, the Honduran Armed Forces have also implemented martial law, stripping citizens of certain constitutional rights (like the right to hold street protests) and implementing a nationwide curfew.
Consequently, hundreds of thousands of indignant Hondurans — most of whom come from poor, working-class backgrounds — continue to hit the streets to protest the government.
Corporate media outlets in Honduras, like La Prensa, have almost entirely focused on actions taken by the protesters, such as burning buildings, barricading roads and looting stores. By doing so, they are attempting to convince their audience that revolting against an unjust system through “illegal” direct action is somehow wrong.
But, as Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong once said, “It is right to rebel.”
Mao explained during a 1939 speech that in the final analysis, all of the principles of Marxism can be brought back to this single expression. This can also be applied to explain what’s happening in Honduras.
The proletarian masses are rebelling against the capitalist-imperialist system that has oppressed them for far too long. Although their chants and rallying calls are directed at Hernández, the National Party and the TSE, they are objectively revolting against the capitalist-imperialist world order, given that they are the embodiments of this system on a local level.
Since taking office in 2014, Hernández has continued, if not intensified, many of the neoliberal policies imposed after the 2009 military coup that removed former President Manuel Zelaya from power.
Lands have been stolen from Black and Indigenous groups. Human rights activists like Berta Cáceres have been murdered. Public programs for the poor have been slashed. Police brutality has skyrocketed. Drug-related violence has spiked.
All of these circumstances have benefited wealthy elites in First World nations and local Honduran compradors, who are almost always white settlers.
Overall, Hernández and his National Party serve as the figureheads and enforcers of capitalism-imperialism on Honduran territory.
As for the TSE, the masses have opened their eyes to the brutal truth that democracy does not and has never existed in the Central American country. The electoral body, which was almost entirely handpicked by the National Party, is a weapon at the service of Honduras’ ruling class and their imperial overlords.
During the 2013 presidential election, when Xiomara Castro (Zelaya’s wife) ran against Hernández, a similar phenomenon occurred where countless cases of botched ballots surfaced. Numerous opinion polls also handed Castro the presidency. Nonetheless, the TSE declared Hernández the winner amid widespread denunciations of fraud. In this round of elections, however, these denunciations have gotten louder and have materialized to the point of nationwide insurrection.
The Honduran masses are quickly realizing that participation in electoral politics is not the way out of misery produced by capitalism-imperialism, given that the system is purposefully designed to benefit the ruling class. They are waking up to the realization that revolution, not reform, is the only way forward.
It may have taken quite some time to reach this point, but the important thing is that this point of consciousness has been reached. That’s because the material conditions that exist in Honduras today have illuminated decades, if not centuries, of oppression that have plagued the nation.
As Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin said, “There are decades where nothing happens and there are weeks where decades happen.”