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Latin American Program in the News: Election strengthens Honduran military's hand

Eric L. Olson

This article discusses the role that the Honduran military played in the election of National Party candidate, Juan Orlando Hernandez. Eric Olson discusses how the military has become a political actor and why the region is likely to become more militarized.


Conservative candidate Juan Hernandez's victory this week in Honduras presidential election poses a potentially dangerous role for the military in the crime-riddled Central American nation, regional analysts say.

Honduras has struggled to restore democracy since the 2009 military coup that ousted left-leaning President Manuel Zelaya. But the military emerged from the shadows to openly support Mr. Hernandez over his main challenger — Xiomara Castro, Mr. Zelaya's wife — in Sunday’s election.

“I’m personally concerned that the military has become a political actor by joining in the Juan Hernandez campaign ads,” said Eric L. Olson, associate director of the Latin America Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. “Can you imagine the U.S. military appearing in an ad for Mitt Romney?”

Mr. Hernandez's victory is likely to accelerate what Mr. Olson and other analysts describe as a militarized approach to fighting drug-related crime that has gripped urban and rural areas.


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About the Author

Eric L. Olson

Eric L. Olson

Global Fellow,
Director of the Central America-D.C. Platform, Seattle International Foundation
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Latin American Program

The Wilson Center’s prestigious Latin American Program provides non-partisan expertise to a broad community of decision makers in the United States and Latin America on critical policy issues facing the Hemisphere. The Program provides insightful and actionable research for policymakers, private sector leaders, journalists, and public intellectuals in the United States and Latin America. To bridge the gap between scholarship and policy action, it fosters new inquiry, sponsors high-level public and private meetings among multiple stakeholders, and explores policy options to improve outcomes for citizens throughout the Americas. Drawing on the Wilson Center’s strength as the nation’s key non-partisan forum, the Program serves as a trusted source of analysis and a vital point of contact between the worlds of scholarship and action.  Read more