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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