As Honduran politicians and political parties gear up for this year's presidential election, a growing left-wing opposition party led by the wife of deposed President Manuel Zelaya threatens to upset the nation's established right-wing order.
Historically, the country has been ruled by two dominant political parties — the Liberal Party of Honduras, the PLH, and the National Party of Honduras, the PNH — but this year the leftist Liberty and Refoundation party, commonly referred to as Libre, set up after the 2009 coup against the progressive government of then-President Zelaya, could see its candidate in the presidential chair.
While there are dozens of candidates, opinion polls show that the presidency is likely to be disputed between current President Juan Orlando Hernandez from the PNH and Libre's Xiomara Castro, the wife of Zelaya.
Since the 2009 coup, which is widely believed to have been backed by the United States, millions of people have been hoping that a new electoral process would help restore social and political stability in the impoverished nation, where violent crime has reached critically high levels.
"Poverty and security will determine the future of Honduras because it is one of the most affected countries by these factors in the Central America region, so we have two possible scenarios: the continuation of neoliberalism or the resurgence of the left," Mexican analyst Adalberto Santana told teleSUR in an interview.
For the first time, a candidate will seek re-election after Honduras' Supreme Court unilaterally and controversially decided last year to allow President Hernandez to run on behalf of the PNH.
Hernandez's decision to run for re-election has been widely condemned because when Zelaya looked to seek re-election, it was one of the primary justifications for the coup against his left-wing administration.
When his wife, Xiomara Castro, runs for the presidency this year it will be her second shot at leading the country after she finished as runner-up in 2013 to Hernandez, receiving approximately 29 percent of the vote compared to the latter's 34.
“If you compare Honduras with the rest of the region, countries like Nicaragua or El Salvador, even Costa Rica, you’ll see that these neighbors are doing much better in terms of security, poverty, etc.," said Santana.
"And guess what? They're ruled by leftist aligned governments, so Hondurans will take that into account when voting,” he added.
The opposition is preparing to hold primary elections in March, months before the general election. Critics of Hernandez, who is still supported by a significant number of Hondurans, say the president has no "real" opponents within the PNH which raise questions around the neutrality of the law that allowed him to seek re-election.
It is believed leftist Xiomara Castro has a real chance of winning the election due to widespread corruption allegations against the current government. She is also supported by Indigenous, social and human rights leaders, many of them influential such as the daughter of Berta Caceres, the environmentalist leader who was assassinated in March of last year.
In 2015, Honduras had a homicide rate of 60 per 100,000 inhabitants, one of the highest in the world. San Pedro Sula, Honduras' economic center and one of the world's most violent cities, had a homicide rate of 111 per 100,000.
Honduras is also the second poorest country in Central America and the sixth most unequal country in the world, according to World Bank statistics. The poverty rate currently stands at 64.5 percent, while 42.6 percent of Hondurans live in extreme poverty.