Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Politics of Honduras
The 1982 constitution provides for a strong executive, a unicameral National Congress, and a judiciary appointed by the National Congress. The president is directly elected to a four-year term by popular vote. The Congress also serves a four-year term; congressional seats are assigned the parties' candidates on a departmental basis in proportion to the number of votes each party receives. The judiciary includes a Supreme Court of Justice, courts of appeal, and several courts of original jurisdiction – such as labor, tax, and criminal courts. For administrative purposes, Honduras is divided into 18 departments, with departmental and municipal officials selected for two-year terms.
Reinforced by the media and several political watchdog organizations, human rights and civil liberties are reasonably well protected. There are no known political prisoners in Honduras and the privately owned media frequently exercises its right to criticize without fear of reprisals. Organized labor now represents less than 15% of the work force and its economic and political influence has declined.
On February 20 2005 the PNH and the PLH held their internal party elections to decide who would represent these two parties in the forthcoming presidential elections in November. Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo became the PNH candidate.
The security situation in Honduras is inevitably going to be more precarious in 2005 because it is an election year, culminating in the presidential elections in November. Three major events over the last 2 years have brought this tiny country to the attention of the world media. A massacre of 68 prisoners in the farm prison of La Ceiba on 5th April 2003, a fire in the prison at San Pedro Sula that killed 107 prisoners on 18th May 2004, and the massacre of 27 innocent men, women and children in San Pedro Sula, on 23rd December 2004.
There is a great feelings of insecurity amongst the population about the chronically poor security situation in Honduras. The major problem is rooted in the gangs, who are called maras in Spanish (ants in English). These include the Mara Salvatrucha and the Mara 18 . The gangs are rooted in the poverty of Honduras, and in the ready availabity of crack cocaine. Honduras is not only a transit point for cocaine running between Colombia and the United States but also has an internal market, creating all sorts of inner city urban problems. The gangs sell the crack, commit other crimes, and hire themselves out to the seriously organised drug smugglers. Those engaged in international trafficking are better resourced than the state authorities combating them. An argument some would use to justify increasing US military aid to Honduras to help fight the organised drug gangs, while others would say that Honduras would be better off legalising drugs, thus avoiding military solutions to Honduran security problems.
President Ricardo Maduro, a former Bank of Honduras chairman, decided to stand for President on a security ticket after his only son was murdered on 23 April 1997, an event that gained him considerable public support. He came into power in January 2002 with a wave of measures against gangs and delincuency, the most noticeable of which has been soldiers patrolling the streets with the police. Many gang members have been jailed for illicit association. While violent crime dipped for a few months even the best that Maduro could throw at the criminals has not slowed the very high crime rate.
During 2004 a number of victims that had been cut up into pieces were left in the parks of San Pedro Sula with messages from the gangs denouncing Ricardo Maduro, Head of Congress and presidential contender in 2005 Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo, and Interior Minister Oscar Álvarez. Pepe Lobo is particular is feared because of his belief in the death penalty, something Maduro opposes. The massacre in the San Pedro Sula suburb of Chamelecón left 27 dead and 29 injured. The murderers left behind a message, claiming to come from the Cinchoneros, and railing against Maduro, Lobo, Álvarez and the death penalty. They promised to commit another massacre before the new year. Fortunately one suspected assassin was detained very shortly afterwards in another part of San Pedro Sula, and further arrests have since been made.
The death penalty was abolished in 1956, and the last person was executed in 1940, but several candidates for the current presidential elections are in favour of restoring it. Pepe Lobo has promised that if elected President but unable to get a majority in Congress to pass the death penalty he would hold a referendum on the subject.
Chief of state: President Ricardo Rodolfo Maduro Joest (since January 27, 2002); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Cabinet: Cabinet appointed by president
Elections: president elected by popular vote for a four-year term.
- Ricardo (Joest) MADURO (PN) elected president - 52.2%,
- Raphael PINEDA Ponce (PL) 44.3%, others 3.5%
unicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional (128 seats; deputies are elected directly as a proportion of the number of votes that their parties receive in each department.
elections: last held 25 November 2001 (next to be held NA November 2005)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PN 61, PL 55, PUD 5, PDC 4, PINU-SD 3
Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia, judges are elected for four-year terms by the National Congress
Political pressure groups and leaders
Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Honduras or CODEH; Confederation of Honduran Workers or CTH; Coordinating Committee of Popular Organizations or CCOP; General Workers Confederation or CGT; Honduran Council of Private Enterprise or COHEP; National Association of Honduran Campesinos or ANACH; National Union of Campesinos or UNC; United Federation of Honduran Workers or FUTH
International organization participation
BCIE, CACM, ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITU, LAES, LAIA (observer), MINURSO, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, United Nations, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO
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