TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – The wife of former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya leads the Central American nation’s presidential poll only days after being announced as her party’s candidate.
The Liberty and Reestablishment Party, known as Libre, choose Xiomara Castro to run for president in the upcoming November elections in Honduras. Castro, 53, leads polls with 28 percent support, according to CID-Gallup, which surveyed 1,233 potential voters from May 2 to 8 and has a margin of error of five percentage points.
Castro told the convention that nominated her that if she wins, her first executive action will be to set in motion a national constituent assembly to propose changes in the system for increasing popular participation in government.
She also said she would fight to combat crime and the rise of impunity under the government of President Porfirio Lobo. Honduras currently suffers from one of the world’s highest homicide rates, with 86 of every 100,000 citizens being a victim of a violent death in 2012, according to the Violence Observatory at Honduras’s National Autonomous University.
If elected, Castro would become the first female president on Honduras.
An attempt by Zelaya to hold a referendum asking whether Honduras' constitution should be rewritten led to a coup that removed him from office and sent him into exile in 2009. He was allowed to return two years later.
The coup took place on the morning of June 28, 2009 when about 100 soldiers stormed the presidential palace in Tegucigalpa, forcibly removed then-President Manuel Zelaya from the premises and flew him to San José, Costa Rica. Citing a plot by Zelaya to eliminate presidential term limits and create a socialist state in the vein of Venezuela’s late leader Hugo Chávez, the National Congress later that day voted to remove Zelaya from office and swore in Speaker of Congress Roberto Micheletti as president.
In the next few months, there were mass protests and violence between demonstrators and police. Many countries, including the United States, refused to recognize the interim government and the United Nations called for Zelaya’s reinstatement. During the turmoil, Zelaya snuck back into Honduras in September and holed himself up in the Brazilian Embassy.
Under this atmosphere, Honduras held elections on November 29, 2009. Lobo, of the conservative Partido Nacional, won the election and was installed as president two months later on January 27, 2010. That same day, Zelaya flew into exile to the Dominican Republic, after Lobo and former Dominican President Leonel Fernández worked out a deal to ensure Zelaya’s safe passage out of Honduras.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.