Home > Uncategorized > One step forward, Two steps back in Latin America

One step forward, Two steps back in Latin America

Conservatives and those who believe in the rule of law are cheering the election of a right leaning candidate in Honduras. From the New York Times:

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Porfirio Lobo, a longtime conservative politician, appeared headed toward victory on Sunday in the Honduran presidential election, which many hoped could help the country emerge from the crisis caused by last summer’s coup and end its isolation.

The electoral tribunal said Sunday night that Mr. Lobo had 52 percent of the vote, with almost two-thirds of the votes counted. That gave him a margin of 16 percentage points over his main opponent, Elvin Santos.

Honduras has been embroiled in a constitutional crisis since early this summer. The tale is very complicated, but the long and short of it is that incumbent President Manuel Zelaya has been attempting for several years to extend his term beyond 2010. He first attempted to put the referendum on the ballot for this election but then called a referendum on the referendum, which the Supreme Court held he could not do. The commander of the military, which is responsible for distributing ballots, refused to participate and was summarily sacked by Zelaya. Despite pronouncements from the Supreme Court, the AG, and the electoral tribunal, Zelaya and his supporters invaded the base where the ballots were held and held the election anyways. Zelaya was soon seized by soldiers and tossed to Costa Rica.

Although many Hondurans (and indeed, the Congress) thought that Zelaya had far overstepped his boundaries, the international community did not see it that way. Even though the interim government remained dedicated to the election, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela coddled the man, while the U.S. and UN shamed the Honduran people. During his time in exile, Zelaya has repeatedly blamed Israeli mercenaries for a variety of outlandish attacks against him. Now, the Hondurans have decided their fate, and with the winning candidate getting 52% of the vote, it would appear that they did it the free and open way that democracies should strive to.

However, all is not well elsewhere in the region. Uruguay has elected a formal leftist rebel to its presidency. The vote appears to have been as fair and open as Honduras’s, but victor Jose Mujica is winning praise from a character not well appreciated by many in this hemisphere. From the AP:

Chavez called Mujica a symbol of leftist resistance who always fought with morality on his side and whose presence is now necessary to counter “gorilismo” – referring to right-wing coup plotters in Latin America.

Chavez went on to laud the militance of the National Liberation Movement-Tupamaros, the movement that Mujica helped found in the 1960s and that carried out bombings, kidnappings and robberies to overthrow elected governments of the time.

Again, we’ll have to see just how Mujica rules, and one can only hope that he’s smart enough to steer away from Hugo Chavez’s heavy handed style and burning desire for total state power.

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