Honduras: un pozo sin fondo – Por Carlos Ponce
Former president Mr. Mel Zelaya conspired against the institutions and tried to impose a Constitutional change just to allow him to run for the presidency again. Nevertheless, the country turned the page and they will have a general election on November 24, 2013.
Since his election on November 2009, President Porfirio Lobo wasted two of the four-year presidential term trying to gain international support. By then, it was too late for to attack Honduras’ endemic problems including violence, a bad education system, a health system crisis, a lack of job opportunities, inefficiency, corruption, and insecurity/crime, critical environment.
In this critical environment, populists like Zelaya find the perfect condition for their destruction of the democratic system. Mr. Zelaya created his own political party, “Libre”, and since the Constitution blocked him from running for the presidency, he promoted his wife Xiomara Castro de Zelaya as the candidate for the next election. The majority of Honduras population is showing that they gave up on political parties and the system and they are willing to vote in favor of the Anti-System, represented by Mrs. Zelaya on the “left” and the TV presenter Salvador Nasralla on the “right”.
Xiomara does not have too much in terms of political experience or the background to rule the country. Her government plans include: Increase food production with government financial and technical assistance, Recover energetic and telecommunication sovereignty (return to government control), Immediate inclusion in the Bolivarian Initiative of the Americas (ALBA) and Petrocaribe (Venezuela’s funded authoritarian alliance of the Americas), Eliminate hunger in Honduras with solidarity projects, Promote the agricultural reform and promote the “solidary” state, Build a “solidarity” economic system, Develop a central housing and to regulate the rent and sale of properties according to government priorities, Pursue political sovereignty and Central American integration following the ideals of Simon Bolivar and Francisco Morazan.
Xiomara Castro de Zelaya and her party “Libre” have the same “state-socialist” propaganda than the rest of the Alba countries (Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador), but more than a decade of false socialism in those countries proved that the model doesn’t work. It is not the same progressive ideology or real socialism from other countries with a mixture of market approaches with social policies. It is just pure electoral populism. Like Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, and Rafael Correa, Xiomara’s first political action if she wins the presidency will be the Constitutional Assembly to reform the constitution under the excuse of promoting social changes. However, the truth is that, as their elected authoritarians friends, Mrs. Zelaya only want to change the constitution to allow her husband to run for the presidency, control power and weaken the institutions. The results will be the same: elected autocrats in Honduras. It is not true that “Libre” is a socialist party: it is just Zelaya’s party, a structure made for him. Libre is just a guarantee of the quick implementation of the same elected populist model.
The tragedy in this bizarre comedy is that Xiomara has been heading all the electoral polls this year with a solid 19% of the preferences, ahead of Jose Orlando Hernandez (National Party) by 3 perceptual points, Salvador Nasralla (anti-corruption party) by more than 5 points, and Mr. Mauricio Villeda (Liberal Party), by more than 13 points.
Only an alliance among the rest of the parties will prevent Xiomara from winning the election, but that is not an easy task. The political division in Honduras and political ambitions will prevent the rest of the candidates from creating an alliance. If Mr. Villeda and Mr. Hernandez create a single electoral option that alternative will not guarantee their triumph, but it will be the only viable alternative to prevent Mrs. Zelaya from winning. The alliance among democratic leaders, effective actions to reduce violence and crime in the following months and a national credible pact to improve the country situation will be a plus to prevent the upcoming crisis.
Honduras has the people, the land, and the posibilities to end the misery and develop a great nation. Honduras need good leadership to fight against corruption and develop good policies to attract bussiness and bring jobs to the more than 60 percent of its population who live in poverty. It needs a better education system, independent and efficient institutions, and good policies/strategies/actions to fight against crime and insecurity. It needs to develop a culture of democracy, human rights, and rule of law. Honduras needs a political change to begin to change the path of misery, and electing the wife of the same well-known autoritarian will not guarantee that change.
For the U.S. it will be another anti-U.S. country in the region and more instability as well as the increase of drug-trafficking from Honduras. For Venezuela and its illegal president, Mr. Nicolas Maduro, Mrs. Zelaya triumph will be his first international victory. For the Americas: another failed country in the hands of elected authoritarians. For Honduras, more misery and less freedom: a Chronicle of a Death Foretold.
Dr. Carlos Ponce is general coordinator of the Latin American and Caribbean Network for Democracy, co-editor of the political magazine “Nueva Politica” and member of the Steering Committee of the World Movement for Democracy and the ISC of the Community of Democracies.