Opposition Alliance Candidate Leads Honduran Presidential Elections

Tegucigalpa, Nov 27 (Prensa Latina) The presidential candidate of the Opposition Alliance, Salvador Nasralla, is ahead by almost five points of the president Juan Orlando Hernández, of the ruling National Party, after the first result of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) of Honduras released today.

Judge David Matamoros said that Nasralla adds 855,847 votes, representing 45.17 percent, with 57 percent of the polling stations counted.

Hernandez, on the other hand, accumulates 761,872 votes, equivalent to 40.21 percent of the tables, he added.

Before the first cut of the vote count, presented by the TSE 10 hours after the closing of the polls, both candidates proclaimed themselves winners of the general elections held yesterday.

In third place is the candidate of the Liberal Party, Luis Zelaya, with 260,994 votes (13.17 percent).

The elections were held normally, according to national and international observers, despite the controversy over Hernandez's aspiration to be reelected in office, an unprecedented fact since the return of Honduras to democracy in 1980.

The opposition considers the postulation of the president institutional, because the Honduran Magna Carta, in force since 1982, prohibits re-election under any modality, but a ruling by the judiciary in 2015 left that possibility open.

Nine candidates from 10 political parties participated in the contest that called for more than six million citizens.

In addition to the presidency of the country, Hondurans voted for some 3,000 public offices, including the 128 deputies to the National Congress and 20 to the Central American Parliament, as well as the municipal councils of 298 mayoralties.

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Tropical Storm Nate Prompts Gulf Coast Hurricane Warnings Ahead of Weekend Landfall; Hurricane Threat For Cancún Tonight

The center of Tropical Storm Nate is churning over the Caribbean Sea north of Honduras.

Nate will make its closest approach to Cancún and Cozumel Friday night, where a hurricane watch and tropical storm warning is in effect.

Preparations should be rushed to completion in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

Nate will then make landfall along the northern Gulf Coast late Saturday night or early Sunday as either a hurricane or a tropical storm.

Hurricane and storm surge warnings and watches have been issued for the U.S. northern Gulf Coast.

Nate will produce a swath of heavy rain from the Gulf Coast to the Appalachians and possibly parts of the Northeast.

Torrential rain will also trigger serious flash flooding and mudslides in much of Central America the next few days.

Tropical Storm Nate has is gaining strength over the warm water of the northwest Caribbean Sea, poised for a strike on Cancún and Cozumel tonight, then on the northern Gulf Coast Saturday night and Sunday, where hurricane warnings have now been posted.

This is a developing weather story, for the latest forecast on Nate, including expected impacts along the U.S. Gulf Coast, check out our latest forecast article here.


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New Investigation Exposes US Support for 2009 Honduras Coup

U.S. officials were more concerned with maintaining military power in Honduras than overturning the coup, the investigation reveals.

A new investigation conducted by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, CEPR, reveals key details involving U.S. officials and their support for the 2009 coup in Honduras that ousted former President Manuel Zelaya.

RELATED: Honduran General Election Campaigning Kicks Off

The investigation, published by The Intercept, was based on military intelligence documents and interviews with Honduran and U.S. officials. It focuses on the Pentagon and the United States Southern Command, SOUTHCOM, and their interests in ensuring the success of the coup against Zelaya by the country's military.

Here’s what CEPR found:

- A top U.S. military official met with Honduran coup plotters a day prior to the coup, demonstrating that they knew about the forthcoming ouster. 
- A Honduran military official’s warning to the U.S. ambassador was met with “indifference.”
- A retired U.S. general provided assistance to Honduran military leaders advocating for the coup, according to interviewed sources, confirming previous allegations.
- U.S. military officials were guided by an “obsessive concern” with former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s growing influence in the region as opposed to domestic Honduran issues. 

Overall, what the investigation demonstrates is that the Pentagon's main interest was to maintain close relations with close Honduran military allies, rather than overturning the coup.

“This is a story that reveals much about how foreign policy works in general, not just in Honduras,” CEPR Research Associate Jake Johnston said in a statement.

“The investigation shows the often hidden roles that various actors within the U.S. foreign policy establishment play in determining and carrying out policy. What’s clear is that personal relationships matter just as much as any official policy position announced in Washington.”

RELATED: Honduras Marks 8 Years Since US-Backed Coup Against Zelaya

Prior to his removal, Zelaya sought to hold a non-binding, nationwide poll on whether to include a fourth ballot box in the forthcoming elections to usher in a National Constituent Assembly for the rewriting of the country’s constitution. The effort was intended to democratize the country’s laws, which have traditionally favored the Honduran elite. 

Zelaya had also begun forging ties with progressive Latin American governments — like Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Cuba and Bolivia — while joining the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, ALBA.

On June 28, 2009, high ranking army officials received orders issued by the Supreme Court to detain Zelaya and transferred him, by force, to Costa Rica.

In 2010, Zelaya was allowed to return to Honduras, a country that plunged into rampant violence following the coup. Since then, hundreds of social activists and dozens of journalists have been killed by suspected right-wing death squads.

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Adrian becomes earliest tropical storm on record in eastern Pacific

The official start of the eastern Pacific hurricane season is May 15, but the first tropical system of the year has already formed.

An area of showers and thunderstorms rapidly organized on Tuesday, becoming the earliest tropical depression and tropical storm on record in the eastern Pacific Ocean since reliable data began in 1966. The previous record for the earliest tropical depression was on May 12, 1990. This depression strengthened to Tropical Storm Alma on May 14.

“With water temperatures off western Central America above normal and relatively low wind shear, conditions will be conducive for further strengthening,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Steve Travis said.

As a result, Adrian is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane prior to threatening land.

While the storm is currently located well off the coast of Mexico and Central America and moving west-northwest, a northward turn is expected later this week.

This turn to the north will bring the strengthening cyclone closer to the coast of southern Mexico this weekend and early next week.

“The most likely area to endure significant impacts from this system extends from southern Mexico to Guatemala,” said AccuWeather senior Meteorologist Rob Miller.

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Nicaragua Condemns Proposed Imperial US Sanctions as Irrational

The reintroduction of the “Nica Act” in U.S. Congress is seen as part of an ongoing threat to destabilize Nicaragua's government.

Nicaragua’s National Assembly on Thursday approved a statement to reject U.S. financial sanctions on the country, known as the “Nica Act,” which is seen as an attack to destabilize the country and President Daniel Ortega’s government.

RELATED: Here We Go Again: Washington's War on Democracy in Nicaragua

The statement against the sanctions was approved by 91 members of the National Assembly, from both members of the ruling Sandinista National Liberation, FSLN, and the opposition Constitutionalist Liberal Party.

“The Nica Act appears as a proposal, blind, deaf, and irrational, conceived by insensitive minds, troublemakers, and completely closed to recognize the rights of Nicaraguans to live away from the conflicts of the past,” the Nicaraguan statement read.

On Wednesday, a group of Congress members in the U.S. reintroduced the Nicaraguan Investment Act Conditionality Act, which will aim to slap Ortega's government with financial sanctions for alleged human rights violations and an erosion of democratic standards. The 71-year-old Ortega, a former Sandinista guerrilla who won with 72.5 percent of the vote in his November re-election, has been in Washington's crosshairs since the 1980s when President Ronald Reagan was in office.


Sanctions could block Nicaragua from requesting loans from the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank, which currently contributes around US$250 million dollars annually to the country.

Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo labeled the move to reintroduce the act “reactionary and interventionist” and sought to “undermine the right of Nicaragua to continue developing the socialist model.”

RELATED: Meet the Sex Workers Replacing Cops in Sandinista-Run Nicaragua

Second Secretary of the National Assembly Wilfredo Navarro warned that the sanctions could roll back the achievements of the Ortega government, which has been able to reduce poverty, improve security, lower crime, stamp out illiteracy and boost economic growth. 

The Organization of American States last year urged U.S. Congress to reconsider the Nica Act, arguing that it would not be a “constructive contribution” to strengthen democracy in Nicaragua. OAS head Luis Almagro again reiterated these concerns on Wednesday in light of the act being introduced, even though he is leading efforts to undermine democracy in Venezuela. 

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Greater Integration, Central America's Challenge

Consolidating unity and meeting the demands of the people are today two of the greatest challenges for the Central American Integration System (SICA, in Spanish), whose member States have agreed to push forward a sustainable development.

On closing last night in Managua the 48th SICA Summit, Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega said that the global economy imposes new challenges on the region's nations.

He suggested to work on re-founding SICA because despite advances the System is not meeting the demands of the regional people and those the global economy imposes.

Nicaragua has handed over SICA's pro-tempore Presidency to Costa Rica that will lead the bloc during the next six months.

Founded in February 1993, SICA is made up of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Belize and Dominican Republic.

In the face of today's challenges, the more integrated and united we are, the better and stronger we'll be to deal with global trade, tackle poverty, hunger and provide better welfare for our people, stressed the Nicaraguan President.

Ortega insisted that despite the region's economic indicators are not bad and they have been able to sort out the international crisis, we can do better and advance even more through integration a unity.

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Hurricane Otto to Landfall in Nicaragua and Costa Rica

Meteorologists in the United States have warned that Otto is the strongest Atlantic hurricane this late in the season since 1934.

Hurricane Otto strengthened to a Category 2 hurricane on Thursday and is just hours away from making landfall near the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, with 105 mph winds carrying with it the dangers of flooding and mudslides.

RELATED: Otto Heads Toward Central America, Kills 3

According to civil protection agencies, thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes as the storm heads toward Central America. Otto has already caused heavy rains in Panama.

Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo said they have evacuated about 10,000 people to safeguard human life as they await the hurricane's imminent arrival. She added that authorities have arranged shelters in safe areas. 

Meteorologists in the United States have warned that Otto is the strongest Atlantic hurricane this late in the season since 1934.

PICTURE GALLERY: In Haiti, the Heartbreaking Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew

In Panama, nine people were trapped in a landslide on Tuesday; seven were rescued but two were pulled from the mud dead. A child in Panama City was also killed when a tree fell. 

An alert remains for the coast of Nicaragua north of Bluefields to Sandy Bay Sirpi, and for the coast of Costa Rica south of Limon to the Costa Rica-Panama border.

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Tropical depression forms, could hit Central America as a hurricane

A tropical depression formed in the western Caribbean Sea on Monday morning, the National Hurricane Center said, and it could hit Central America as a hurricane by Thanksgiving.

Dubbed Tropical Depression Sixteen, the system is forecast to strengthen into a tropical storm and then a hurricane over the next few days. If it becomes a tropical storm, it would be named Otto.

As of 10 am ET, the depression had sustained winds of 35 mph and was located about 305 miles east of Bluefields, Nicaragua, the hurricane center said. It becomes a tropical storm when its winds reach 39 mph and a hurricane when winds reach 74 mph.

It's forecast to slowly move to the west and hit Central America as a Category 1 hurricane by Thursday.

Areas from eastern Panama to Honduras and El Salvador will be at risk for flash and urban flooding, mudslides and the possibility of winds strong enough to cause power outages later this week, AccuWeather said.

According to NOAA, there have only been 20 November hurricanes in the Atlantic since 1950.

Officially, the 2016 hurricane season ends Nov. 30.

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