She was first lady, twice a candidate and now she will be president.
Xiomara Castro, from the Libertad y Refundación (Free) party and wife of the former president Manuel Zelaya, won the Honduran elections and not only becomes the first woman to rule the country, but also will end 12 years of conservative rule and will return the Honduran left to power for the first time since Zelaya was deposed in a coup in 2009.
After two days of uncertainty due to the slow counting of the votes, the ruling candidate of the National Party, Nasry Asfura, acknowledged the defeat on Tuesday and congratulated Castro.
“Nasry Asfura Zablah, PN Candidate, accepts the will of the people, recognizes the victory of Libre in alliance, and my triumph as President-elect of HN. Thank you! ”Wrote an exultant Castro on Twitter.
“My people, I will not fail you! With my promises we will return to the democratic order ”, he added.
Already on Sunday night, when everything indicated that his advantage was wide, Castro, 62, said: “We are going to form a government of reconciliation, peace and justice. We are going to start a process to guarantee a participatory democracy, a direct democracy ”.
Whoever was first lady between 2006 and 2009 promised: “I will call for a dialogue with all sectors of Honduran society so that we can use points of agreement and form the minimum bases for a next government.”
Castro, dressed in red and black, ended his speech on Sunday with the phrase “until victory always,” one of the most used by the Cuban revolution in a context in which his rivals accused his party of being communist.
One of his opponent’s campaign slogans, Nasry AsfuraIt was “homeland yes, communism no.”
Castro has been favorable to controversial issues such as abortion, which he supports under three conditions, as well as a closer relationship with China in a country that has traditionally been linked to the United States.
The key covenants
In his struggle to remove the ruling party from the Presidential House, Castro made a pact with the National Opposition Union of Honduras (Unoh), led by Salvador Nasralla, with whom in October he made an alliance for the presidential formula, as well as with other parties and candidates who finally gave him their support.
During the Castro campaign proposed a “re-founding of the country”, with a government program that proposes to reform several laws of the previous mandate and even proposed to convene a Constituent Assembly to modify the Honduran Magna Carta.
Addressing his supporters Sunday night, he assured that his victory means ending “corruption, drug trafficking and death squads.” And he added that he will not fail “women” and that he will demand respect for them, “as well as what women want most: children and childhood.”
He also proposed legalizing a minimum abortion and extending social programs.
Likewise, he promised to repeal the Organic Law of the Employment and Economic Development Zones (ZEDE), approved in May of this year and which establishes zones of the national territory subject to a “special regime” in which investors are in charge of fiscal policy. , security and conflict resolution, among other powers.
“To generate employment and development in the country, we do not need to sell our sovereignty. We are going to generate that hope that the people demand ”, he said during the campaign.
The former first lady between 2006 and 2009 will take the reins of government at a difficult time for the nation, shaken by the coronavirus pandemic, mass migration and the effects of various natural disasters.
In addition, the National Party (PN), of the outgoing president Juan Orlando Hernandez, has been at the center of several reports of drug trafficking and corruption, something that he denies.
In fact, his brother was sentenced to life imprisonment this year in the United States for drug trafficking and he himself runs the risk of being extradited and put on trial in that country for the same reason after leaving office.
The Castro-Zelaya duo
Castro was born in 1959 into a family of landowners. At the age of 16, she married her cousin, Manuel Zelaya, and they both settled in the Olancho region where they had five children. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from college.
Her name began to sound nationally along with that of her husband, who came to government initially presenting himself as a center-right candidate of the Liberal Party (PLH) and who later made a shift more to the left.
In 2005, as part of her husband’s presidential campaign, she had her first foray into political activity organizing the women’s branch of the Liberal Party of Honduras in the Catacamas region. And after Zelaya ran for president, she ran several campaigns on behalf of her husband.
After several months of political crisis between the different powers and after an attempt to carry out a consultation to change the Constitution, which was declared illegal, in July 2009, in the middle of the night, Zelaya was deposed by a group of military personnel supported by the Congress. They broke into his house and sent him in his pajamas on a flight to Costa Rica.
Castro’s political activism made headlines in the international press when, after the coup, he starred in a march in Tegucigalpa to request the reinstatement of her husband in office.
He thus became one of the most visible faces of the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP), which sought to bring Zelaya back to power.
It was then that he began to accumulate a greater number of followers and also opponents.
From that moment on, she began to be seen as a political figure to be reckoned with in a country where power has traditionally been vested in men.
Road to the presidency
Three years later, in July 2012, she launched her first presidential candidacy for the Free Party, created together with her husband.
On that occasion he lost the elections to the current outgoing president, Juan Orlando Hernandez, who repeated in office when Castro again appeared at the polls as Nasralla’s running mate in 2017.
Initially, the former first lady had run for Libre for the elections four years ago, but then she decided to ally herself with the opposition candidate in elections that were marked not only by the questioning of the results or the narrow margin that gave her victory. to Hernández.
Re-election is not allowed under the Honduran Constitution, but the Constitutional Court gave Hernández the green light to run for a second term.
Since then, Castro has become one of the harshest critics of the current government, which he points out as having become a “dictatorship” and a “corrupt class.” Hernández is accused of drug trafficking in the United States.
At the beginning of this year, Castro launched his candidacy again after announcing his presidential aspirations at the end of 2020.
Unlike other candidates, she was never associated with corruption cases, although her husband was singled out during his government, something that he always denied.
Now in power, his challenges transcend the political and economic problems and climate disasters of recent years.
Honduras is one of the most impoverished and violent nations on the continent, with a high crime rate and poverty that affects almost 70% of its 9.5 million inhabitants.
Castro will assume power on January 27 as the first woman to take the reins of the country. She will do so under the shadow of her husband’s government, deposed in 2009.