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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Honduras: Perspective Beyond the Political Circus

Though Honduras was buffeted by natural disasters this past year, this small Central American nation has generated comparatively greater media coverage through its latest man-made debacle.

While HOPE International Development Agency’s Honduran partners were busy helping people to recover from severe flooding and a 7.1 earthquake, President Manuel Zelaya’s June 28th deposition suddenly became a colorful ringside attraction in the urban circus that the poor may not have the time to attend.

While expressions like ‘military coup’ might conjure stereotypes of dysfunctional Third World politics, the reality on the ground has been, according to our Honduran friends, much quieter than one might expect.

It is also worth noting that the ‘crisis’ of a deposed President has somewhat overshadowed the circumstances preceding Zelaya’s fall from grace. In fact, Zelaya had been about to hold a referendum on the constitution that would have potentially allowed him to extend his rule past the legal term limit.

Our friend and colleague in Tegucigalpa shared a few of his thoughts about this very complex situation, and they are worth reproducing here:

For the first time in Latin America, a country has rebelled , and without shedding any blood and without violence, against a constitutional and democratically elected President who has violated the constitution and legal orders from the Supreme Court, the Congress and the Attorney General of the country.

The international press had not understood this nor have they taken the time to study what has been happening in Honduras over the past year. They have simply taken a position saying that this has been a military overthrow of the government of Honduras - as something coming out of the cold war of twenty – thirty years ago.

However, the lesson coming out of this is that a President, who has been democratically elected by the people of this country, does not have the right to disobey the constitution and the laws of this country.

The message of Honduras is simple, if a president has received the popular vote of the country, this does not give him or her the license to break the laws, as all the effort going into governing a country for the common good should be done within the framework of the law.

The general public of democratic countries will be seeing these actions and will see that they no longer need to tolerate the abuses of power by constitutionally elected presidents who many times consider themselves untouchable because they were elected by the people. Big mistake….. ask Mel Zelaya!

While Hondurans living in severe poverty never have an easy row to hoe, we are relieved that, despite the political drama, conditions throughout the country are mostly very peaceful. Certainly, HOPE’s work has not experienced any disruptions whatsoever. It is our hope that this ‘crisis’ is resolved to the satisfaction of the majority of Hondurans. They, like all people, would prefer a government that respects the severity of their struggle as well as the importance of their institutions.

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