US President Donald Trump has threatened to restrict and ultimately halt foreign assistance to Honduras if the government fails to stop the massive migrant caravan leaving the Central American country. Putting aside the moral and diplomatic obstacles, should this warning become a reality the White House would effectively worsen the some of the nation’s economic issues that have contributed to the mass migration in the first place.
Activists and advocates for the northbound Hondurans also contend that many of the social issues that are driving this emigration are a result of Washington’s acceptance of the disputed 2017 presidential election results.
“Honduran human rights activist Dunia Montoya, who accompanied the caravan to the Guatemalan border and whose husband, Bartolo Fuentes, was detained in Guatemala after crossing with the group, said Trump’s tweet “seems like a further abusive comment on the situation in the country”.
“[Trump] is responsible for the situation in Honduras. The Trump government validated an illegitimate government,” she told Al Jazeera.
Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernandez, currently in Colombia, has not made an official statement in response to the tweet.
But the Honduran Secretariat of Foreign Affairs issued a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying the government “urges Hondurans participating in this irregular movement to not let themselves be used by a movement that clearly seems to be political and that seeks to disturb the governability, stability and peace of our countries.”
Honduras’s unstable democracy
Honduran democracy has been unstable over the past decade. In 2009, elected president Manuel Zelaya was overthrown and illegally expatriated by the military, though civilian rule continued.
President Hernandez took office in 2014 following a stint as president of congress. His National Party had consolidated majority control of all three branches of government.
Despite the constitutional prohibition on reelection and its use as a justification for the 2009 coup, Hernandez sought reelection following a contentious and irregular Supreme Court ruling essentially declaring part of the constitution to be unconstitutional.
Zelaya’s LIBRE party that grew out of popular resistance to the 2009 coup formed an opposition alliance and its candidate Salvador Nasralla was winning the presidency, according to the initial results of general elections held last November. But then Hernandez suddenly surged into the lead amid widespread reports of fraud and irregularities.
Weeks of protests and blockades ensued, and more than two dozen opposition protesters were shot and killed by state security forces, according to Honduran and international human rights organisations.
Hernandez was declared the winner in mid-December, and US recognition of his victory consolidated what was widely viewed as election fraud.
“What is happening in Honduras is the accumulation of the consequences of legitimising a fraudulent government. They provoked this mass migration from Honduras,” said Montoya.
“Now they threaten not to give money to Honduras, but the truth is that does not alarm the people who are fleeing because that aid never makes it way into their hands,” she said.“