Xiomara Castro will be sworn in Thursday as the first woman president of Honduras, which is grappling with poverty, migration, drug trafficking and corruption, after apparently resolving a crisis in Congress that threatened her leadership. The 62-year-old leftist former first lady’s inauguration will put an end to 12 years of right wing National Party rule.
“Twelve years of struggle, 12 years of resistance. Today the people’s government begins,” Castro, the wife of former president Manuel Zelaya, who was deposed in 2009, wrote on Twitter. From dawn, queues formed outside the national stadium in the capital Tegucigalpa where 29,000 people will watch the inauguration.
In order to implement her campaign promises, Castro needs the support of Congress but last week a crisis broke out when rival factions in her Libre party voted in their own presidents of the legislature. During her visit, US vice president Harris is due to hold talks with Castro on the root causes of Central American migration toward the United States, a senior US official said.
“The topics will include expanding economic opportunity, combating corruption, and humanely managing migration,” the official added.
Some 71 percent of the close to 10 million Hondurans live in poverty, according to an NGO called FOSDEH. Everyone wants to leave because there’s no work. If there were more job opportunities here, there would be no need to look for another country,” university student Jensi Davila told AFP in Tegucigalpa. Honduras is also wracked by violence instigated by criminal gangs involved in drug trafficking. The murder rate is close to 40 per 100,000 inhabitants.
Lai is due to hold separate talks with Castro and Belize Prime Minister John Briceno during his visit. Taiwan’s foreign ministry said Lai’s meeting with Castro would be “to exchange views on issues of mutual concern. Honduras is among just 14 countries that still recognize Taiwan.
China, which considers Taiwan a part of its territory, has spent decades successfully encouraging the island nation’s allies to switch sides. During her election campaign, Castro vowed to “immediately open diplomatic and commercial relations with mainland China” if she won.
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