Honduran president leads 201st independence day celebration

Tegucigalpa, Sep 1 (EFE).- Honduran President Xiomara Castro on Thursday headed the events commemorating the 201st anniversary of the country’s independence from Spain, a doubly historic celebration given that she is the first female president of the Central American nation.

“This Sept. 15th we mark 201 years since the proclamation of our independence, and in the (2021 presidential) campaign, we offered to continue the struggle to achieve our true national independence,” Castro emphasized at the ceremony held at the Monument to Peace on Juana Lainez Hill in Tegucigalpa.

In her short address, the Honduran leader also reaffirmed her “commitment” to democracy and to the Honduran people “who are fighting for their true independence.”

In addition, she paid tribute to the memory of the forefathers of independence such as Francisco Morazan, Jose Cecilio del Valle, Dionisio de Herrera, Jose Trinidad Cabañas, Jose Trinidad Reyes and Chief Lempira, who died fighting against the Spanish conquistadors.

On Thursday, the country is also celebrating Honduran Flag Day, with the national banner scheduled to fly at all educational centers and public institutions around the country as part of the independence celebrations being held all during the month of September.

Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua, declared themselves independent from Spain on Sept. 15, 1821.

The Declaration of Independence was drafted by Honduran Jose Cecilia del Valle.

Two centuries after gaining independence, Honduras has 9.5 million citizens, of whom more than 70 percent live in poverty, which analysts attribute to corruption and the failures of the educational and health care systems, among other problems.

The country also suffers from widespread criminal violence that takes the lives of between 10 and 13 people each day, as well as high unemployment, growing and long-standing corruption and drug trafficking.

Living conditions for Hondurans have not improved since their country returned to democracy in 1980 after almost two decades of military rule.

On the contrary, economic, social and political problems have worsened over the past 30 years, according to various sources.

Up until Castro – the leader of the Freedom and Refounding Party (Libre) – took office, power in Honduras had alternated between the conservative Liberal and National Parties, both of which are more than a century old.

Castro won the November 2021 presidential election.

The National Party governed Honduras for the 12 years prior to Castro’s election win, the first four years with Porfiorio Lobo as president, while for the remaining eight years the country was led by Juan Orlando Hernandez.

The National Party’s tenure was marked by multiple complaints of corruption and drug trafficking.

Hernandez – who in 2017 sought to illegally gain reelection, given that the country’s constitution does not permit a third presidential term under any circumstances – was extradited to the United States on April 21, 2022, where he is facing trial on at least three charges associated with drug trafficking.

A brother of the ex-president, former lawmaker Juan Antonio Hernandez, was convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to life behind bars earlier this year by a US court.

The Central American country is also feeling the effects of the crisis that erupted with the June 28, 2009, toppling of then-President Manuel Zelaya, the husband of Xiomara Castro and now one of her close advisers.

Castro has created great expectations among Hondurans, who continue to push for better living conditions that would contribute to halting the growing wave of emigration to the US, Mexico, other Central American nationa, Italy and Spain, among other countries.

EFE gr/szg/bp

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