Xiomara Castro will take consultations and referendums to Honduras

Tegucigalpa. Honduran leftist politician Xiomara Castro, who is on her way to being the first female president of the Central American nation, does not shy away from making history.

The opposition woman declared herself the winner in Sunday’s presidential elections, after learning the preliminary official results that gave her a landslide victory that would return the left to power for the first time since her husband was overthrown 12 years ago.

With 51.45% of the votes counted, Castro, wife of former president Manuel Zelaya, garnered 53.61% support, while Nasry Asfura, mayor of the capital and candidate of the ruling National Party (PNH), obtained 33.87%, according to preliminary official figures.

In 2009, she catapulted herself to the forefront of a protest movement after her husband, former President Manuel Zelaya, was ousted in a military coup, which launched Honduras into crisis.

The Libertad y Refundación (Free) party grew out of this movement, and after Sunday’s elections it was slated to break a centuries-old streak of governments made up of one of two parties.

With his victory, the 62-year-old Castro would end 12 years of the conservative government of the National Party, marred by corruption, accusations of the president’s ties to drug trafficking and an exodus of migrants.

Promoting “democratic socialism,” she wants to decriminalize abortion, reduce bank charges for remittances, create a UN-backed anti-corruption commission, and repeal new laws that she says fuel corruption and drug trafficking.

“I firmly believe that the democratic socialism that I propose is the solution to lift Honduras out of the abyss in which neoliberalism, the narco-dictator and corruption have buried us,” Castro said in a campaign speech.

Political vision

“Participatory democracy” in the form of referendums and consultations on major policy changes will be critical to the Castro administration, according to a document outlining his government’s plans. Previous attempts at more direct democracy in Latin America have at times, conversely, strengthened patronage politics and the power of leaders.

Castro will also convene a national assembly that could allow her to reform the constitution, a proposal initiated by her husband Zelaya shortly before his overthrow. The document is vague about the purpose of the review, but mentions the guarantee of social and economic rights.

Although the Libre de Castro party is part of the Sao Paulo Forum, an organization with the goal of reinventing the Latin American left, many doubt that Castro will adopt extreme policies.

“We may see some flirtations with governments that preach 19th century socialism, but it will be more of a formality than anything else,” said political analyst Raúl Pineda.


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