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Distaste for Honduran Leaders Who Linger Fuels Distrust in Election

The effort has convinced Norma Ortiz, 52, who runs a stall selling children’s clothes at an outdoor market in Tegucigalpa, the capital. “We’re happy. He has sent a bunch of the big bosses to el Pozo,” Ms. Ortiz said, referring to one of the new prisons known as “the Well.”

She used to pay a little over $ 4 a week in extortion money, but the gangs stopped coming around after the police and soldiers began regular patrols in the market, she said.

As part of his anti-crime push, Mr. Hernández has built parks guarded by the military police. It is one of the measures that persuaded Karen Martínez, 34, to switch her vote from the Liberal Party and support Mr. Hernández.

“He has put a bit of an iron fist on the situation of the country,” said Ms. Martínez, a saleswoman in a bridal store who had brought her 3- and 6-year-old boys to play in the park at the edge of a rough neighborhood.

Luis Cruz, 33, and Fernando Torres, 21, had come to play soccer at the park, but they had no love for Mr. Hernández. The military police harassed them constantly, they said, taking their money, their cellphones, even their soccer balls.

Critics argue that many of Mr. Hernández’s social programs are designed simply to buy votes — with a deliberate blurring between his National Party and the government.

In the town of Santa Lucía, a National Party stronghold outside Tegucigalpa, many voters at a recent rally had received handouts, including wood-fueled stoves for baking bread. A party worker had showed up that morning at the home of Juliana Martínez Avila, 51, a widow with six children, with a bag of food staples.

Voters waiting for an Alianza rally in Talanga, a farming town outside the capital, also expected help from politicians. Mayeli López, 25, said that a promise by Mr. Nasralla to cancel highway tolls would help her husband’s small trucking business.

Flags were waving as Mr. Nasralla and Mr. Zelaya rolled into the town.

“We hope they keep all their promises,” said Jonathan Urbina, 20, who drives a three-wheeled motor taxi when he can get work. “With deeds, not just with words.”

Source: NYT > World

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