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Swapping constitution for chaos in Honduras?

Brian Thompson
bthompsoe@gmail.com

Imagine for a second that George W. Bush did not leave the White House quietly. Instead, he assumed that he had done such a stellar job that the country needed a third term under him to set things right.  

Naturally, this situation would have created something akin to civil war, with various groups demanding his resignation. A similar thing is happening today in the tiny Central American republic of Honduras, except the outcry is has not been nearly as great as you would expect.

Elected in 2005, Manuel Zelaya Rosales (right) has turned out to be one of the more polarizing presidents in Honduran history. Presiding over a series of scandals that included allegations of corruption that shocked a nation accustomed to corruption scandals, Zelaya's presidency has been a slow-motion disaster from start to finish.  

The constitution only grants Zelaya one term with no chance for re-election. However, Zelaya has announced that he will hold a referendum to vote on whether or not the constitution needs to be scrapped. However, he will not divulge what a new constitution would look like or what changes it would contain.

This is like selling someone a car without telling him if it's a Kia or a dump truck.

Zelaya, however, has labeled those who oppose the reforms as traitors and sellouts, and his deepening ties to Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, both militaristic leaders with questionable democratic credentials, are worrying to some.

Zelaya's increasingly close ties to the military is another cause of concern, as the military in Honduras has historically played pivotal roles in overthrowing democratic governments.

Honduras is a small nation, and the United States has its own problems to deal with during this recession. With little international attention placed on the storm brewing in Honduras, Zelaya is set to get away with any power grab he chooses. For the seven million citizens of the hemisphere's second-poorest country, the future seems anywhere from uncertain to chaotic.

Posted by gharman on 3/31/2009 11:47:14 AM
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