Thursday, July 2, 2009

political chameleons

From the Economist's July 2 edition:
The only people who don’t seem to want the president back in his job are Hondurans. On June 30th thousands of them filled the main square in Tegucigalpa, the capital, to show their support for Mr Zelaya’s removal and his replacement by Roberto Micheletti...
Mr Zelaya’s presidency has been marked by a rise in crime, corruption scandals and economic populism. He pushed through big wage increases for teachers and government workers. When money ran short, he turned to Mr Chávez for petrodollars. Despite more than $100m in Venezuelan aid, the government has stopped paying some suppliers.

The biggest hole in Zelaya's legitimacy, however, is the fact he was elected a moderate and then veered sharply left. When David Emerson, elected as a Liberal, crossed the floor of the Canadian Parliament to sit as a Conservative, the charges of political chameleon was common. Yet few seemed to consider the possibility that it was not Emerson's color that changed, but his environment's. What if a politician is elected by campaigning on platform X, and then the political party he was associated with happens to endorse a platform of "not X"? I would think that crossing the floor to another party that stood for what he campaigned for would be consistent with democracy, and failing to do so would actually be inconsistent. "Liberal" and "Conservative" are coats of paint. They are contingent, to use the term I've been employing a lot this week. What matters is the substance, and on this point the moderate policy Hondurans had voted for in the last election had been usurped by a president who decided to throw in with the Chavistas. Playing the populist card to change the constitution was one move too many from the Chavez playbook.

From the Calgary Herald:
The real information is different from what the world has been fed," said Chet Thomas, an American who runs the development charity Project Global Village, based in Tegucigalpa.
"What happened is the army disposed of a constitutionally elected president in order to restore a democratic system of government, not to break the democratic system. This case cannot be catalogued as a coup d'etat.
The official line from both Canada and the USA has been to follow the lead of the OAS, but OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza was a part of the government of former Chilean president Salvador Allende. Allende was the first Marxist to be elected as a head of government in the Americas, and was supported by the KGB. Given that Allende was deposed by Pinochet's 1973 coup, Insulza can hardly be expected to take a nuanced view of the deposition of a leftist president. The fact the OAS is unanimously calling for Honduras' ouster from its membership (should Zelaya not be reinstated) while more than two dozen of the 34 OAS member states are calling for Cuba's unconditional admission severely undermines the organization's credibility.

Octavio Sánchez's informative piece in the CS Monitor makes for a good read, while Roger Noriega's blogposts of this past week (he is a former US Ambassador to the OAS) make for required reading, as does Carlos Alberto Montaner's WaPo piece.

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