© 2021 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Political Standoff Continues After Honduras Election


On the streets of Honduras, there is continuing unrest after presidential elections held two weeks ago are being contested. The incumbent and a close U.S. ally, Juan Orlando Hernandez, has a small lead, but international observers say there were irregularities in the vote. His opponent, a national TV star, is demanding a total recount. NPR's Carrie Kahn has this profile.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Sunday must-see TV in Honduras is dominated by one man, Salvador Nasralla.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Speaking Spanish).


KAHN: He hosts a popular two-and-a-half-hour game show.

SALVADOR NASRALLA: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: Tic-tac-toe Honduran style. Contestants compete for cash and prizes handed out by models in tight, cutoff jean shorts. Then there's his four hours of live sports commentary.

NASRALLA: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "Like you say in English, I'm a workaholic," says Nasralla.

NASRALLA: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "When people see you on TV every day and look into your eyes, they know who is honest and trust you," says Nasralla. He's long peppered his shows with populist rants about corruption and inequality in the country. But it wasn't until 2013 that he made a run for president.

NASRALLA: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "Four years ago, you could've called me an outsider, but," says Nasralla, "I've been complaining about corruption since that loss so you can't call me an outsider anymore." At 64, Nasralla, tall, thin and recently married to a model almost 40 years his junior, has never held political office. As preliminary votes came in two weeks ago, it looked like Nasralla might finally have his day. With nearly 60 percent of the vote in, he held a 5-percentage-point lead. But election computers experienced a yet-to-be-explained glitch, and results stopped. When the system came back up more than a day later, Nasralla's lead had eroded.

RICARDO CENTENO: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: Car mechanic Ricardo Humberto Centeno says it was fraud. He says the government stuffed the ballot boxes and bought votes to stay in power. Nasralla's supporters have poured into the streets to protest. International observers have urged all parties to resolve the conflict, and officials are currently recounting ballots that arrived at election headquarters after the computer slowdown. Nasralla says that's not good enough and demands a full recount by independent international auditors.

EBAR DIAZ: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: The president's spokesman, Ebar Diaz, says Nasralla won't accept any results. They are poor losers, he adds. The they he refers to is the coalition of parties, including the left-wing Libre, that joined forces to compete in the elections. Libre is led by the polarizing politician Mel Zelaya, who was ousted from power eight years ago in a coup. Nasralla says no one is manipulating him, even though his and Zelaya's differing ideologies do make them strange bedfellows.

NASRALLA: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "There was no other way to get rid of this dictator we have," says Nasralla, referring to the incumbent president who was barred from re-election until his handpicked Supreme Court justices overturned the ban. It's unclear how the political standoff will be resolved. Nasralla hasn't given up his day job. He's still calling soccer games...


NASRALLA: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: ...And says he won't stop railing against corruption.

Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Tegucigalpa.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONSTER RALLY'S "ORCHIDS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.