WSJ: It’s all about Chavismo

June 30, 2009

The WSJ, makes it all about Chavismo. Sad, when politics in our countries are reduced to the whims of an autocratic Dictator who cares only about perpetuating himself in power and tried to have Zelaya do the same.

The Wages of Chavismo

The Honduran coup is a reaction to Chávez’s rule by the mob.

As military “coups” go, the one this weekend in Honduras was strangely, well, democratic. The military didn’t oust President Manuel Zelaya on its own but instead followed an order of the Supreme Court. It also quickly turned power over to the president of the Honduran Congress, a man from the same party as Mr. Zelaya. The legislature and legal authorities all remain intact.

We mention these not so small details because they are being overlooked as the world, including the U.S. President, denounces tiny Honduras in a way that it never has, say, Iran. President Obama is joining the U.N., Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez and other model democrats in demanding that Mr. Zelaya be allowed to return from exile and restored to power. Maybe it’s time to sort the real from the phony Latin American democrats. [Review & Outlook] Associated Press People against the return of ousted Honduras President Manuel Zelaya participate in a rally at the central park in Tegucigalpa, Tuesday, June 30, 2009.

The situation is messy, and we think the Hondurans would have been smarter — and better off — not sending Mr. Zelaya into exile at dawn. Mr. Zelaya was pressing ahead with a nonbinding referendum to demand a constitutional rewrite to let him seek a second four-year term. The attorney general and Honduran courts declared the vote illegal and warned he’d be prosecuted if he followed through. Mr. Zelaya persisted, even leading a violent mob last week to seize and distribute ballots imported from Venezuela. However, the proper constitutional route was to impeach Mr. Zelaya and then arrest him for violating the law.

Yet the events in Honduras also need to be understood in the context of Latin America’s decade of chavismo. Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez was democratically elected in 1998, but he has since used every lever of power, legal and extralegal, to subvert democracy. He first ordered a rewrite of the constitution that allowed his simple majority in the national assembly grant him the power to rule by decree for one year and to control the judiciary.

In 2004 he packed the Supreme Court with 32 justices from 20. Any judge who rules against his interests can be fired. He made the electoral tribunal that oversees elections his own political tool, denying opposition requests to inspect voter rolls and oversee vote counts. The once politically independent oil company now hires only Chávez allies, and independent television stations have had their licenses revoked.

Mr. Chávez has also exported this brand of one-man-one-vote-once democracy throughout the region. He’s succeeded to varying degrees in Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina and Nicaragua, where his allies have stretched the law and tried to dominate the media and the courts. Mexico escaped in 2006 when Felipe Calderón linked his leftwing opponent to chavismo and barely won the presidency.

In Honduras Mr. Chávez funneled Veneuzelan oil money to help Mr. Zelaya win in 2005, and Mr. Zelaya has veered increasingly left in his four-year term. The Honduran constitution limits presidents to a single term, which is scheduled to end in January. Mr. Zelaya was using the extralegal referendum as an act of political intimidation to force the Congress to allow a rewrite of the constitution so he could retain power. The opposition had pledged to boycott the vote, which meant that Mr. Zelaya would have won by a landslide.

Such populist intimidation has worked elsewhere in the region, and Hondurans are understandably afraid that, backed by Chávez agents and money, it could lead to similar antidemocratic subversion there. In Tegucigalpa yesterday, thousands demonstrated against Mr. Zelaya, and new deputy foreign minister Marta Lorena Casco told the crowd that “Chávez consumed Venezuela, then Bolivia, after that Ecuador and Nicaragua, but in Honduras that didn’t happen.”

It’s no accident that Mr. Chávez is now leading the charge to have Mr. Zelaya reinstated, and on Monday the Honduran traveled to a leftwing summit in Managua in one of Mr. Chávez’s planes. The U.N. and Organization of American States are also threatening the tiny nation with ostracism and other punishment if it doesn’t readmit him. Meanwhile, the new Honduran government is saying it will arrest Mr. Zelaya if he returns. This may be the best legal outcome, but it also runs the risk of destabilizing the country. We recall when the Clinton Administration restored Bertrand Aristide to Haiti, only to have the country descend into anarchy.

As for the Obama Administration, it seems eager to “meddle” in Honduras in a way Mr. Obama claimed was counterproductive in Iran. Yet the stolen election in Iran was a far clearer subversion of democracy than the coup in Honduras. As a candidate, Mr. Obama often scored George W. Bush’s foreign policy by saying democracy requires more than an election — a free press, for example, civil society and the rule of law rather than rule by the mob. It’s a point worth recalling before Mr. Obama hands a political victory to the forces of chavismo in Latin America.

15 Responses to “WSJ: It’s all about Chavismo”

  1. GeronL Says:

    I hope the situation in Iran and Honduras teach everyone whose side Obama is really on

  2. Eric Says:

    I’ve received mails from friends abroad who really _do_ understand what’s at stake in this mess, asking me why the hell other government leaders from the region, Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru, Colombia for example, don’t stand up and if not defend the new government, at least speak out on Chávez’ not-so-stealthy “intromisiones” into Honduras’ internal politics (as he has done in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colmbia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico y pare de contar…).

    I tell them that it’s because they don’t want to suffer revenge at the hands of the Bolivarian Megalomaniac. And they all know him well enough to know that if, say, Oscar Arias truly stood up and said spoke his innermost convictions Costa Rica’s “negotiations” to get into the Petrocaribe fold would be dead, and he’d have country-wide “labor disputes” to deal with in no time.

    These countries don’t stand up to be counted on the side of democracy because they intuit that Obama would leave them hanging out to dry. They won’t stick their necks out because they know the likes of Valenzuela and other “progressives” in Obama’s entourage will likely keep the US on a see-no-evil-speak-no-evil course, walking on the safe side of the street.

    Hey, has anybody noticed that Chavez’s attempt to take out Micheletti and his incursions into Honduras are a mirror image to Reagan’s sponsoring of the Contras to take out the Sandinistas 25 years ago?

    I guess we have a new Empire on the block. And just as fervently ideologically committed to Change as the Great Communicator (the dead one) was in the 80s.

  3. Humberto Says:

    The Hondurans blew it.

    They should have deposed Zelaya properly & legally and then tried him. A little bit more messy perhaps but certainly the right way to do things. Didn’t Venezuela remove Carlos Andres Perez that way?

  4. Roberto Says:

    My gut reaction, if I were Honduras would be to tell the OAS to go jump in a river with cement shoes on.

    Not a wise move, perhaps, but that’s the line in the sand I would draw.

    I’ll bet nickles to $1 bills that the OAS would find a way to back down in front of that ultimatum. To go through with it would expose the hypocrisy they are practicing now.

  5. concerned Says:

    From Yahoo…

    “Honduran coup leaders have three days to restore deposed President Manuel Zelaya to power, the Organization of American States said Wednesday, before Honduras risks being suspended from the group.”

    Maybe it is not a bad thing to be suspended from a group that does not represent your needs, or to re-phrase, is actually counterproductive to your needs.

  6. Bill Says:

    “Mr. Zelaya persisted, even leading a violent mob last week to seize and distribute ballots imported from Venezuela.”

    What’s a amazing is how people are insisting that this is a subversion of direct democracy. Here we have ballots that explicitly were illegal, placing the calling of the ball for a constitutional rewritathon in the hands of those other than who the constitution says is supposed to do it, taken out of a “sterile” zone by partisans. At that point, any results from such an election should be seen as tainted beyond recovery.

    If you thought sending Zelaya out of town on a rail was stupid, what college do you have to attend to come up with an idea as outright dumb as raiding the ballots BEFORE the election.

  7. Andres F Says:

    The New York Times, not taking sides…? weird

  8. jrsam Says:

    Honduras has been made a sacrificial gear in the machinery of Obama’s Latin policy.

  9. veneco Says:

    IMO, the result of this Honduras mess is going to set either a new precedent that favors freedom and democracy, or confirm the old one that we are royally fucked.

    You see all these continental moonbats up in a roar about Honduras because if Zelaya is kept out and everybody else ends up accepting Micheleti and the coming elections, then every single latinoamericano, their congresses and justice systems will know that yes, chavismo can be fought. If Zelaya is allowed back, well, there will come the conclusion that we must wait until the local chavista-in-chief slips in the bathroom and breaks his neck to get rid of him.

    The former situation would empower public institutions across the continent, and presidents would need to watch their actions -and mouths- like they never have before.

  10. Kathryn Says:

    I particularly liked the last paragraph in which WSJ calls for Obama to live up to his comments about what constitutes a democracy. I agree that it is more than an election, and for that reason, he must consider the best option for Honduran citizens, as well as all those dealing with Chavez’s influence. Check out this piece in Boston Review for a look at the lives of minority groups in Venezuela and Latin America right now.

  11. Deanna Says:

    Finally, WSJ has the balls to counteract CNN. Concerned, there is no way to reshuffle the members in the OAS (nor in the UN) since they are all appointed by the reigning governments. Therefore, no matter how each individual member may think, they will be voting, reflecting the orders of their governments. As I said, Obama is a wishy-washy president who makes his statements about political events around the world based on his own ignorance of the situation, listening all the time to his leftist (liberal) advisors and supporters in the White House/Congress. And what about Chavez’s suggestion that the UN send in invading troops to Honduras? Do we need a peacekeeping force there? Because that’s the only way that the UN will intervene militarily and it will not be UN forces (they don’t have any) but from member States and, in many cases, it would be from the US, UK and other Western democracies. Neither has the OAS (which is the regional version of the UN). This again shows the ignorance of Chavez and his Alba partners. Of course, this whole situation also uncovers the hypocrisy of these so-called leaders, mouthing “democracy” left and right, when their own governments are about as democratic as Kim Jong Il’s or Ahmedinejad’s.

  12. For me this was an AUTO COUP. The attorney’s office was going to start a procedure to judge Zelaya and kick him out of presidency. Leaving the country in such a way would only grab world attention, as it did and create the scenario for a great comeback just like Chavez’s in 2002. Chavez had a Baduel, Zelaya has other presidents.

  13. GWEH Says:

    wanna ad that there is a full court press by the chavista PR machine. A clear indicator is the reactivation of Golingers blog. Estan moviendo todas las piezas informaticas and that they are good at. They are very good at mobilizing and seizing the moment. They currently have lots of momentum on their side. Time is of the essence. We need to stall them.

  14. GWEH Says:

    concerned, it seems there was a technicality when the military exiled the president and the message is that if you are going to abide by democracy, you have to set the example first. The only balls are being displayed by Mrs. K who is seizing the opportunity for posterity.

    Nonetheless, I find this upholding of Honduras to the highest standard absurd and hyprocritical.

    Zelaya’s achilles heel is his protecting drug shipments and USG has plenty of evidence in this matter. Will USG come clean? Honduras is attempting to squeeze USG into corner and IMO, USG will have to do the right thing because that is what we are about.

  15. concerned Says:

    I am disappointed by the lack of balls being displayed around the world over the Honduras event. Is it so hard to call this what it really is? Is it just too easy to demand Zelaya’s reinstatement without questioning why this happened? Is there a clearer reason needed to shuffle the representatives for the OAS and start from scratch before true democratic ideals go the way of the dinosaurs?
    This is just another example of Chavez meddling in other countries affairs for his personal gain. Cudos to Honduras for recognizing this and having the guts to try to stop it before it is too late as has happened to a growing number of South and Central American countries. Is there a larger threat to democracy in the western hemisphere than Hugo Chavez? Has his now shrinking petrodollars so contaminated the world that the only voices heard are the leftist buffoons? It is truly the “Devils Excrement”.
    What message is this support for Zelaya/Chavez sending the other countries who would dare to stand up in defense of their countries democracy? Are the world’s leaders afraid of Chavez’s threat of war over Zelaya’s exile? Chavez couldn’t organize a force to fight outside Venezuela’s borders sufficient to take on a fair sized boy scout troop. This is not a jab at Venezuela’s military, but it would take more than Chavez’s whims to mobilize outside it’s borders.
    A neutral stance would have been sufficient to save face while allowing Honduras to sort out it’s own affairs for the good of the people.
    I am disappointed, ashamed and nervous for the future of democracy as I have had the liberty to know.

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