Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Giraldi says "Hands off Honduras" to both Left and Right

From Ron Paul's Campaign for Liberty

This column is from a few days ago, but it is a continuing situation. Libs and neocons have taken sides, but no consideration has been entertained about what the Honduran people actually want.

It is perhaps predictable that the unrest in Honduras is being seized upon by the usual suspects in an attempt to exploit the situation to draw conclusions that are completely unwarranted by what is taking place. Neocons are hailing the removal of a "leftist" president while liberals are shouting "coup." In an attempt to determine what Hondurans think, I have recently had the opportunity to speak to a number of military officers, students, civil servants, and businessmen. As many commentators have correctly noted, there is a sharp class divide in Honduras, with 70% of the population mired in poverty and a middle and upper class that is much better off and politically empowered to stay that way. The existence of extreme poverty with little hope for improvement in the majority of the population has been exploited by populists in Latin America through promises to bleed the rich and help the poor. Though the promises have rarely been kept, the ability to organize bloc voting by the poor has created a de facto monopoly of power for the leaders who have successfully sold themselves as being champions of the disenfranchised, leaders like Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia.

What is lacking in the media feeding frenzy is any deference to what the Hondurans themselves might want. Last month a crisis that had been building for nearly a year exploded. President Manuel Zelaya, a wealthy rancher elected as a center-leftist in 2006 but turned populist after entering into office, proposed a non-binding referendum that would have supported amending the country's constitution. Zelaya said that he was interested in changing the constitution to help the poor, though he did not propose any specific remedies. But according to most Hondurans, the particular part of the constitution that he was interested in obtaining a mandate for eventually amending was a non-amendable part that was designed to keep presidents like him from remaining in office beyond their constitutionally permitted terms. Article 239 of the Honduran Constitution reads in translation: "No citizen who has already served as head of the Executive Branch can be President or Vice-President. Whoever violates this law or proposes its reform, as well as those that support such violation directly or indirectly, will immediately cease in their functions and will be unable to hold any public office for a period of 10 years." A number of Latin American countries have such clauses in their constitutions to avoid the establishment of presidents-for-life, which have resulted in continuous one party rule. The US Constitution also has several permanent articles.

Read the rest of the article here.

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