By Al Giordano
While most international news organizations took obedient dictation of the Honduras coup regime's claims of more than 62 percent voter participation in the November 29 "elections," authentic journalist Jesse Freeston did what real reporters are supposed to do: He went directly to the source, asked questions, took notes, and videotaped the evidence.
Freeston today publishes this bombshell report, above, on The Real News that documents definitively that Honduras electoral officials knowingly lied about their claims of more than 60 percent voter turnout. The hard results in possession of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE, in its Spanish initials) demonstrate only 49.2 percent turnout: That means that a majority - more than 50 percent - of Honduran citizens abstained in the "elections" that the National Front Against the Coup d'Etat had called unfair, unfree and placed under boycott.
The hard numbers show that abstention - and by inference, the Resistance - was the winner in the November 29 vote.
Usually, electoral fraud is committed to change the outcome between candidates in an election. It is not yet known whether the stuffing of official results with claims of 62 percent voter turnout (about 25 percent higher than the actual 49 percent participation) was also used to change the results of presidential, congressional or municipal contests.
The real question all along was well known to be: How many Hondurans would vote? And how many Hondurans would not? In the coup regime's zeal to legitimize this electoral farce it invented a number - 62 - and claimed that to be the percent of participation in the November 29 vote. Journalist Freeston walks the viewer, step by step, through the post-electoral claims by presidential candidate Pepe Lobo (declared winner of the mock elections), members of the Honduran Congress, diplomats from the United States, Canada, Costa Rica and other countries, and international corporate newspaper editorials, all of which cited the "more than 60 percent turnout" to label the "elections" as free, fair and transparent.
He then goes inside the vote counting rooms at the Supreme Electoral Tribunal in Tegucigalpa, camera in hand, and videotapes the real numbers from computer screens and paper print-outs: 49.2 percent turnout. He also conducts an interview with Leonardo Ramírez Pareda, the official responsible for counting the votes, who in a moment of frankness (perhaps unaware of what his bosses were claiming outside the room to the press) says, matter of factly, that the participation was at 49 percent. All of this evidence is on camera, and it is now known to the world, thanks to the journalist gumshoe work of Freeston and The Real News.
The 49.2 percent turnout count, Freeston notes, is very close to the independent count of the US-financed "Hagamos Democracía" organization, which works under the auspices of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) of the US State Department's National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Freeston notes that the NDI withheld its own count information from its press release lauding the the "elections" as a success.
The work that Freeston did to bring you, and all Hondurans and citizens of the world, these facts was something that any reporter for AP, Reuters, CNN, NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal or any other media could have done, but did not do: report the real facts that were available on the ground even as the Supreme Electoral Tribunal still has not - eight days after the "elections" - released the official town by town "results" which make a lie of its chairman's election night claims of 62 percent turnout.
Logic would dictate that the same governments and media organizations that, in the days since, have cited the false turnout numbers as the reason to consider the Honduras "elections" free, fair and transparent, and therefore recognize their "results," now must withdraw that recognition. Some have been played as fools, once again, by an anti-democratic coup regime. Others are willing participants in the dishonest charade.
Freeston's report is a game changer inside Honduras and outside of it as well. It will shortly be translated to Spanish and other languages (as will this written summary of it). The real facts will be distributed far and wide by the Honduran resistance and by pro-democracy voices everywhere on earth. The conclusion is based on hard data and therefore undeniable: The Honduras coup regime cooked the "results" of the November 29 "elections" with knowing falsehood. The real results reveal that abstention and the Resistance-called boycott of the electoral theater won the majority two Sundays ago. The elections are therefore absolutely illegitimate, cannot be recognized, and neither can their "results." And authentically freedom-loving peoples of Honduras and the world will never adhere to them, abide by them, respect them or acknowledge them.
The coup d'etat unleashed last June 28 now has led to a situation where the incoming government that is slated to take power on January 27, 2010 enjoys no more legitimacy or legality than the present coup regime. The Honduras people are without a democratically elected government, and will continue to be without one for some time to come. And any other country's government, or media, that continues to claim to recognize them as legitimate reveals itself to be complicit in the theft of democracy.
Now, kind readers, do your part: break the information blockade, distribute Freeston's video report far and wide, translate it into your own languages, and wave it in the faces of any government official or media organization that attempts to repeat the big lie of majority participation in the Honduras vote last week. They are the usurpers of democracy. And you are its last, best hope.