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Presidents and constitutions in Latin America July 10, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : Political Theory, World politics , trackback

Now that more information is available, it seems clear that calling the situation in Honduras a coup. Using the military to drive the president out and sending him into exile is hardly part of a legitimate judicial process. Steven Taylor had some good comments about that today. For that matter i recommend all his comments on the situation in Honduras.

Even though the rest of the government obviously overstepped their bounds in ousting Zelaya in the manner they did, it still remains that the entire government wanted him gone, including his own party. Now, I don’t know much about politics in Honduras, but it all reeks of something. And looking at Latin American politics from the side, it does seem to reek of the same thing that has happened in several other countries in the region lately: That the executive branch gets in a position to keep changing the constitution and election laws to counteract the checks and balances of government, such as term limits. BBC.co.uk has made a good overview of such changes lately. Correa’s done it in Equador, Morales in Bolivia, Chavez in Venezuela and Uribe is working on it in Colombia.

It doesn’t seem strange that the parliament is getting jumpy about having too much power gathered on the hands of the president in Honduras as well. Not that this is an excuse, but you can’t have a proper democracy without at least a fair amount of stability to the rules of the game. And Latin America does have somewhat of a history of strong leaders abusing power. This overall trend doesn’t seem to be a good one, even though that leader might sometimes be a good guy seeing that the bad guys are sure to get into power once he has to step down. I do believe that the ends rarely justify the means in this case.

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