Dexter Boniface

Is the Democratic Crisis in Honduras Over?

In Democratic Crisis, Honduras on February 8, 2010 at 5:08 pm

The inauguration on January 27, 2010 of Honduras’ new president, Porfirio Lobo, and the simultaneous departure of Manuel Zelaya to the Dominican Republic raised expectations that the country’s long democratic crisis would finally come to an end. Is it over?

Bye Bye Zelaya

Lobo’s first act as president was to sign an amnesty decree issued by the Honduran Congress. The decree absolves Zelaya and the Honduran military for any abuses of power associated with the June 2009 crisis (though Zelaya was not absolved of other charges, including embezzlement). In a deal brokered by President Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic and President Lobo, Zelaya was granted safe passage out of the Brazilian Embassy in Honduras (where he had been holed up for 129 days) to the Dominican Republic. Zelaya vowed to return to Honduras. Six high-ranking members of the Honduran military also faced charges of abuse of power; however, they were found not guilty by the Honduran Supreme Court.

Lone Wolf?

President Lobo’s inaugration was a relatively lonely affair. Many regional leaders continue to shun the Lobo government as a result of the country’s protracted democratic crisis stemming from Zelaya’s ouster on June 28, 2009. Still, such opposition appears to be weakening. The United States, for its part, has embraced the new president but insisted that additional steps need to be taken (e.g., the creation of a Truth Commission to investigate the June 2009 crisis) before Honduras can be returned to good standing in the Organization of American States and other regional institutions. Sanctions against Honduras have taken a heavy toll on the poverty-stricken country; upon taking office, Lobo found the country to be bankrupt. Lobo has moved quickly to establish the Truth Commission; it was announced that the effort will be spearheaded by Guatemalan statesman Eduardo Stein and that the report will be released in four months (after some delay, it is scheduled to be released in May 2011). For his part, Zelaya was not impressed.

My take: It’s time for the international community and the Honduran people to move on and for Honduras to be readmitted into the inter-American community. The recent decision by El Salvador’s left-wing government to recognize Lobo’s conservative government (and hints from others that they will likely do the same), as well as the recent announcement that the World Bank will restore development aid to Honduras, bode well for an end to the political crisis. With the amnesty firmly in place, the Truth Commission will be well positioned to set the record straight as regards the events of June 2009 (though there is skepticism that the inquiry will succeed).

 

Further reading

Eldridge, Joseph and Vicki Gass, “Restoring International Relations With Honduras: A Way Forward,” Huffington Post, January 26, 2010.

Recent developments

Committee to Protect Journalists, “CPJ alarmed by wave of anti-press attacks in Honduras,” April 6th, 2011.

Economist, “Honduras and its former president: Why a pariah may return,” March 10th, 2011. Might Zelaya soon return to Honduras?

Frank, Dana, “US: Wrong on Honduras,” The Nation, Jan. 31, 2011.

Stevenson, Mark, “Year later, new coup talks,” Miami Herald, June 28, 2010.

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  1. Well written post, nicely researched as well as useful for me personally in the future.

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