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Enabling Environments for Civic Movements and the Dynamics of Democratic Transition - Honduras

Publisher Freedom House
Publication Date 10 July 2008
Cite as Freedom House, Enabling Environments for Civic Movements and the Dynamics of Democratic Transition - Honduras, 10 July 2008, available at: [accessed 18 February 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Period of democratic transition: 1980–1981
Pro-democracy civic movement: not present

In 1972, the military, in agreement with the labor movement, overthrew President Ramon Ernesto Cruz and replaced him with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, a group of approximately 20 colonels, instituting a military dictatorship that would replace presidents at will.

By 1978, military-backed president Juan Alberto Melgar Castro faced charges of government corruption, inefficiency, and lack of progress toward democracy. Despite these accusations, unions and student organizations protested in support of Melgar, but right-wing members of the military ousted him in a bloodless coup. The replacement three-member junta, led by General Policarpo Paz Garcia, promised a return to democracy. In April 1980, a record 81 percent of Hondurans elected delegates for a new Congress, which selected an interim government and established the procedures for elections in 1981. Despite slow work by the Congress, presidential and congressional elections took place in November 1981. Suazo Cordova was elected president with 52.4 percent of the votes and took office in January 1982. The military maintained its influence over politics until 1999, when President Carlos Flores used his constitutional right to veto the military and removed the foreign minister.

Despite subsequent democratic elections, effective government control has been hampered by rising police corruption, violent youth gangs, and widespread poverty. Political repression in the 1980s led to the creation of grassroots organizations, which, along with the labor unions and student movements, have pressured the government on human rights and social issues.

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