Letter from 85 faculty members at Canadian universities to Canadian government

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs

We, 85 faculty members at Canadian universities, encourage the Canadian government to boycott the inauguration of Juan Orlando Hernández as president of Honduras on January 27, 2018.

Canada should rescind its overly hasty acceptance of the fraudulent election results of November 26, 2017 and withhold recognition until such time that new general elections are conducted under international supervision, as recommended by the Organization of American States (OAS).

The profound political crisis in Honduras is reflected in: the multiple acts of fraud that led OAS observers to conclude that the November electoral process was of “poor quality”, marked by “irregularities, mistakes and systemic problems”; the suspension of constitutional guarantees as part of the violent police and military repression of peaceful national protests by tens of thousands of Hondurans who did not accept the questionable official count; the persecution and imprisonment of people who participated in those protests; and the killing of an estimated forty persons since the end of November, in addition to the hundreds of injuries, some permanent, inflicted during protest events.

These facts have been broadly circulated by both mainstream media and human rights organizations around the world.

However, this crisis did not begin with the fraudulent November 26 elections. The recent abusive acts of the Honduran government result from a corrupt, repressive recent history in which, most unfortunately, Canada has played a part that must be brought to light in order to frame better government policies for the future.

Last fall’s fraudulent elections were the inheritance of a government that came out of a coup d’etat in 2009. The OAS and most Hondurans rejected both the 2009 coup and the recent ‘government approved’ vote count of 2017. Yet, instead of promoting democratic rights, the Canadian government supported the coup and has tacitly endorsed the Honduran state’s 2017 vote count.

Maintaining themselves in power through a series of fraudulent elections in 2009, 2013 and now in 2017, Honduras’ post 2009 coup governments have pursued policies that favor foreign corporate and investor interests while using repression against community protests that result from promoting mining expansion that contaminates water sources; dam construction that infringes on indigenous lands; agro export industries and tourism enclaves that lead to land grabbing by the big and powerful; and sweatshop garment industries where unions are not welcome. Canadian companies are invested in these sectors and Ottawa even signed a Free Trade Agreement in 2013 although evidence pointed to high-level corruption and links to narcotics trafficking in both the private and public sectors.

As in the case of the dubious 2017 election results, the corrupt and repressive policies of the post coup governments have been reported by a variety of news outlets and research institutions, among them the distinguished Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research where economics Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz is a member of the Advisory Board.

New Canadian policies are needed to respond to the fraud, corruption, and repression. Without a legitimate popularly elected government that respects its own citizens’ rights, social and political conflict, human rights abuses, and the impunity of the perpetrators of abuse will only increase in the coming years, as will the refugee outflows that result from ongoing crisis.

The fraudulent and repressive re-election of Juan Orlando Hernández must not be legitimized by Canada’s presence at his inauguration. Nor should Canada continue to provide any form of assistance to his discredited regime.

Respectfully yours,
Liisa North
Emeritus, CERLAC/York University

With 84 faculty members from departments of economics, international development studies, history, sociology, anthropology, environmental studies, geography, literature/languages, and other disciplines at Canadian universities.