KEY POINTS

  • Castro’s rival, Nasry Asfura, has conceded, with only 34% of tallied votes so far
  • Castro’s administration may switch alliances from Taiwan to China
  • The 62-year-old seeks to tax the rich and provide welfare payments for the poor
  • The first female Honduran president-elect is the wife of unseated leader Manuel Zelaya

Socialist Xiomara Castro has won over Nasry Asfura in the race to become the president of Honduras with a landslide victory, marking the end of a 12-year conservative rule by the scandal-hit National Party, and putting in power the country’s first female president.

Castro’s husband, Manuel Zelaya, ruled Honduras from 2006 until 2009, when he was ousted by a coup. She ran for office twice before in the years following her husband’s removal from power. Now, she is set to replace outgoing President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who was accused of involvement in a drug trafficking case in the U.S.

More than half of the votes have been tallied and so far, Castro has logged 53% of the people’s support, Bloomberg reported. Asfura, on the other hand, has 34% of the latest tallied votes. Multiple outlets also reported that Asfura has conceded and offered congratulations to the president-elect.

The 62-year-old politician has pledged to tax the rich and possibly end Hondurus’ alliance with Taiwan.

In a translation of Castro’s victory declaration on Twitter by The Hill, the leftist said, “Nasry Asfura Zablah, PH Candidate, accepts the will of the people, recognizes the victory of Libre en Alliance, and my triumph as President-elect of HN. Thanks! People, I will not fail you! With my promises we will return to the democratic order.”

Castro’s rise to power is expected to potentially open doors for Honduras to have diplomatic relations with China, instead of Taiwan. Despite talks of a possible alliance switch, local business groups are expected to express concerns about the matter, putting another burden on Castro’s government as she works through the prevalence of crime, poverty, and natural disasters in the nation.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken hailed Castro’s victory, stating that the “Honduran people exercised their power to vote in a free and fair election. We congratulate them and President Elect @XiomaraCastro and look forward to working together…”

Political experts noted that the new administration could pose opportunities for the U.S. to build stronger ties with the country, especially after Castro said in a June speech that she would cooperate with the Biden administration on immigration, Associated Press reported.

“In the first 100 days, we will execute and propose to the administration” a strategy that seeks to “combat and address the true causes of migration,” she said at that time.

While Castro’s plan of taxing the rich and introducing a welfare payment for senior citizens and poor households may have triggered debates about how radical the Castro administration will be, some have welcomed Castro’s representation of a democratic reprieve from authoritarianism, the New York Times reported.

Unlike previous violent elections, Castro’s commanding lead in this year’s election has largely been peaceful.

Outgoing President Hernandez’s brother, a former federal lawmaker, was also sentenced to life in the United States on charges related to drug trafficking. After Castro's husband Zelaya was overthrown in 2009, the U.S. government under Barack Obama denounced the act, calling it “illegal” and branding Zelaya’s forcible removal as a military coup.

Honduran presidential candidate for the Libertad y Refundacion (LIBRE) party, Xiomara Castro, celebrates at the party's headquarters Honduran presidential candidate for the Libertad y Refundacion (LIBRE) party, Xiomara Castro, celebrates at the party's headquarters Photo: AFP / Luis ACOSTA