Monday, November 30, 2009

Huge Victory for Honduras

I stood upright for hours from just after midnight Sunday morning until Monday 3 am while the elections started their journey.  Normally as an international observer I would not have had to stand so long or do such a long shift but disaster almost occurred.  They had so many urns to deliver that they ran out of custodians for the urns.  I was picked to be the observer while the presidents of the voting tables became custodians and after the elections I became custodian with presidents as co custodians until the custodian arrived it made it difficult for me to observe any of the other schools, but I was informing how the votes were going in the other schools in the neighborhood and everything seemed to be very smooth and quiet in the other areas with people voting and going home.  The vote did start a little late in all of the three schools in our neighborhood but voting was extended till 5 pm as there were lots of people waiting to vote in the two upper schools and there was a steady stream even after 4 at the smaller school where I was located.  I picked the school, because I had been told that there was a few of the Resistance members that had incorporated into the tables and were going to be assessors to throw the election in the neighborhood which would have gave illegitimacy all around.  I was really glad I was there, because there were a few incidents but they were quickly resolved and the military and police acted completely professional during the entire time. 
There were two leftist political assessors with no credentials that consistently interferred with the election process by making rude comments of which they were advised quite a few times with my presence to not be doing things that violated the law.  Well four o´clock came and it was discovered that we were going to have to stay till five.  Everyone was very tired so I sort of understand their wanting to go home, but the two assessors it is the tables decision to close or not and no one can tell them what to do.  The major from the military told her clearly that she would have to leave if she kept involving herself in the process and furthermore, that she would have to stop making political based comments.  Then said to all of them that if one of them stepped to abandon their spot until 5 he would arrest them and they would be forced to stay in the room present, under arrest, until the 5 pm time frame and then they would be taken to jail for boycotting the election and trying to defraud electors.  They stayed and the resistance assessors were quiet up till they tried to start talking about ´coup´and ´farce´in the elections etc.  The major asked them how 6 years in prison sounded and that he would not touch her but the police would be glad to take her to a cell that was awaiting her.  She really did become quiet then and about 10 minutes later left the election location in disgust with her inability to invalidate the process that was taking place.
When they started to count the ballots it took until 10 pm to count the votes.  The counting went very smooth and quiet with no interuption considering that the resistance had left the building. 
We then had to wait and go to the area where ballots were turned in and I went with the soldiers as they asked me to go and receive the other ballot packs and urns.  I accompanied their pick ups since they were absent their custodian and things went smooth with no real problems to be noted...just very tired poll workers everywhere. 
When we arrived back at the location with all of the urns the custodians had finally arrived and it was 1:30 am so I was able to go home and fall into bed with no further knowledge of life until the next morning.  However, I was so proud to participate.
Pepe Lobo is the president and as the vote looks it looks like Dr Zuniga is the mayor of San Pedro Sula, Ricardo Alvarez is the mayor for Tegucigalpa.  Elvin Santos was very gracious in his consession speech.  I could not have been more impressed with his impressive ability to communicate peace, professionalism, and pride in Honduras...he will probably win if he runs again in the next electoral process and that would not bother me a bit.  I for now though am very happy that Pepe Lobo is the new president elect. 
The story of Dr. Zuniga is an interesting one.  He is the liberal candidate for mayor and he only had three weeks to campaign which made it difficult.  However, he had a lot of people and was well partisan people like him not for his politics but his personal character is impecable. 
Dr.  Zuniga was the director of Catarino Rivas and he is a cardiologist and has helped poor people in the community for years and long before he ever went into politics.  Zelaya wanted him to assist him with creating votes for the fourth urn and Dr. Zuniga said that he would not do that and that it was WRONG and corrupt and that he was not that type of person.  Zelaya fired him as a result and today the ´pueblo´has voted for him to become the next mayor in just 3 weeks of campaigning..impressive...and a clear message to corrupt officials and to Zelaya about his fourth ballot plans.
Meanwhile....Zelaya was in the Brazilian embassy screaming that the elections were fraudulent and that he was going to nulify the elections.  He called for the world to not recognize the elections. I wonder how he managed to count the ballots, scrutinize the voting process and all that jazz from inside the Brazilian embassy? Did he forget that he is in jail?