In Elections, Honduras Defeats Chávez

November 29, 2009

From the Wall Street Journal on how Honduras beat Chavez (and Insulza)

In elections, Honduras Defeats Chavez by Maria Anastasia O’Grady

The tiny country beats back the colonial aspirations of its neighbors.

Unless something monumental happens in the Western Hemisphere in the next 31 days, the big regional story for 2009 will be how tiny Honduras managed to beat back the colonial aspirations of its most powerful neighbors and preserve its constitution.

Yesterday’s elections for president and Congress, held as scheduled and without incident, were the crowning achievement of that struggle.

National Party candidate Porfirio Lobo was the favorite to win in pre-election polls. Yet the name of the victor is almost beside the point. The completion of these elections is a national triumph in itself and a win for all people who yearn for liberty.

The fact that the U.S. has said it will recognize their legitimacy shows that this reality eventually made its way to the White House. If not Hugo Chávez’s Waterloo, Honduras’s stand at least marks a major setback for the Venezuelan strongman’s expansionist agenda.

The losers in this drama also include Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Spain, which all did their level best to block the election. Egged on by their zeal, militants inside Honduras took to exploding small bombs around the country in the weeks leading to the vote. They hoped that terror might damp turnout and delegitimize the process. They failed. Yesterday’s civic participation appeared to be at least as good as it was in the last presidential election. Some polling stations reportedly even ran short, for a time, of the indelible ink used to mark voter pinkies.

Latin socialists tried to discredit Honduran democracy as part of their effort to force the reinstatement of deposed President Manuel Zelaya. Both sides knew that if that happened the electoral process would be in jeopardy.

Mr. Zelaya had already showed his hand when he organized a mob to try to carry out a June 28 popular referendum so that he could cancel the elections and remain in office. That was unlawful, and he was arrested by order of the Supreme Court and later removed from power by Congress for violating the constitution.

It is less well-known that as president, according to an electoral-council official I interviewed in Tegucigalpa two weeks ago, Mr. Zelaya had refused to transfer the budgeted funds—as required by law—to the council for its preparatory work. In other words, he didn’t want a free election.

Mr. Chávez didn’t want one either. During the Zelaya government the country had become a member of Mr. Chávez’s Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), which includes Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. If power changed hands, Honduran membership would be at risk.

Last week a government official told me that Honduran intelligence has learned that Mr. Zelaya had made preparations to welcome all the ALBA presidents to the country the night of his planned June referendum. Food for a 10,000-strong blowout celebration, the official added, was on order.

ALBA has quite a bit of clout at the Organization of American States (OAS) these days, and it hasn’t been hard for Mr. Chávez to control Secretary General José Miguel Insulza. The Chilean socialist desperately wants to be re-elected to his OAS post in 2010. Only a month before Mr. Zelaya was deposed, Mr. Insulza led the effort to lift the OAS membership ban on Cuba. When Mr. Zelaya was deposed, Mr. Insulza dutifully took up his instructions sent from Caracas to quash Honduran sovereignty.

Unfortunately for him, the leftist claims that Honduras could not hold fair elections flew in the face of the facts. First, the candidates were chosen in November 2008 primaries with observers from the OAS, which judged the process to be “transparent and participative.” Second, all the presidential candidates—save one from a small party on the extreme left—wanted the elections to go forward. Third, though Mr. Insulza insisted on calling the removal of Mr. Zelaya a “military coup,” the military had never taken charge of the government. And finally, the independent electoral tribunal, chosen by congress before Mr. Zelaya was removed, was continuing with the steps required to fulfill its constitutional mandate to conduct the vote. In the aftermath of the elections Mr. Insulza, who insisted that the group would not recognize the results, presides over a discredited OAS.

At least the Obama administration figured out, after four months, that it had blundered. It deserves credit for realizing that elections were the best way forward, and for promising to recognize the outcome despite enormous pressure from Brazil and Venezuela. President Obama came to office intent on a foreign policy of multilateralism. Perhaps this experience will teach him that freedom does indeed have enemies.

Almost 400 foreign observers from Japan, Europe, Latin America and the U.S. traveled to Honduras for yesterday’s elections. Peru, Costa Rica, Panama, the German parliament and Japan will also recognize the vote. The outpouring of international support demonstrates that Hondurans were never as alone these past five months as they thought. A good part of the world backs their desire to save their democracy from chavismo and to live in liberty.

14 Responses to “In Elections, Honduras Defeats Chávez”

  1. Megaescualidus Says:

    Miguel,

    Do you think that, Chavez being a bad looser he’s shown in other opportunities he is, he will just turn around and forget all about Honduras?

  2. Rveerk Says:

    regarding Chavez and Honduras, i see only two possible options there for him:
    1) Milk it as propaganda against everything non-chavista.
    2) Completely ignore it and make it a non-issue.

    Though he is completely able to make option 2 work in Venezuela, i don’t think him picking no.2 is anything but remotely possible, only on the long-term.

    Brazil really made a complete ass of itself and failed to use their position of relative power in this situation, even more stupidly still holding on to their position for dear life it seems.

    Germany is going to recognize the elections, so i don’t see much of the rest of europe taking all too long to follow suit.

  3. GWEH Says:

    I think chavez will forget honduras… he has too many things on his plate

    OT:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/29/drugs-cocaine-africa-al-qaida

  4. Humberto Says:

    My own analysis is different. A triumph for the Honduran people would have been a trial and proper conviction for Zelaya. Instead, he was summarily picked off in his PJs and dispatched to Costa Rica. This is not what you or anybody would call “rule of law” which is why there undeniably was a coup against the guy.

    Micheletti himself appears to me to be a blistering fool who callously disregarded human rights violations of the army he controls.

    There is one level at which I can sense I agree with you. For Honduras, today, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel. And for that, the Hondurans can take the credit.

    I wish I could say the same for Venezuela.

  5. jsb Says:

    Now, what’s to be done about Zelaya?

  6. Otro Roberto Says:

    IMHO, I believe that this Chávez has learned something out of this outcome: from now own he will forget about gradualism in any part where he has influence or want to have influence. Even if he could be busy with many other problems, he will try to push forward his “Constitutional Reform” recipe (when it applies) faster than any time before.

  7. Kepler Says:

    OT on what Gweh wrote:

    http://venezuela-europa.blogspot.com/2009/11/thinking-about-venezuelan-african.html

    There you can find a picture of our dear friend imparcialidat-amistat-objetividat Tibisay showing the Malians “how to do it”.
    I was reading in Journal du Mali: they say Northern Mali is becoming ungovernable and foreign NGOs are pulling out from there.

  8. OA2 Says:

    i’m curious about the cartoon. if the u.s. plans to recognize the election, then why the obama parrot siding with the commies? seems like an ideological distraction to the facts.

  9. island canuck Says:

    I agree. The cartoon doesn’t hit a good note with me.

    The US is going to recognize the new president of Honduras.

  10. Gringo Says:

    Most likely the cartoon came from the summer, when the USG’s position on Honduras was virtually identical with that of the other three birds.
    At the time the cartoon was accurate, but as OA2 and island canuck points out, the cartoon does not reflect the current USG position. Like Miguel, I laughed with the cartoon, while realizing the cartoon is not current- as did Miguel.

  11. island canuck Says:

    I guess I’m also a little sensitive with all the BS I’ve been reading about Honduras in ND by the paid propaganda sheep of the Chavez government spewing lies all throughout the forums.

    When I saw the cartoon I over reacted.

    I guess living here lately has robbed my sense of humour.

    I’ll try & have a more open mind in the future :-)


  12. [...] elections: One little victory The people of Honduras just gave the finger to Dirty Chavez. (More coverage [...]

  13. MMS Says:

    I was there when the cartoon happened. Gringo has the correct explanation, the drawing was done over the summer, the first week of the so-called coup.

  14. Joropo Says:

    I agree Zelaya was not my favorite, but remocing a President in Piajamas at gun point is not my favorite democrativ way for dealing with an elected president. Forget about Chavez, Lula, Insulza and even the US. This was a cout-etat no matter how you call it it was a cou. Shame on the US for conceding to the republicans (in order to pass two democrats appointments in the state dept) and supporting this elections without re-establishing first Zelaya and then running an election. The US lost credibility in its Latam foreign Polici, forget about Chavez, Brazil and Spain did not see all this election mockery as legitimate. Maria Anastasia O’Grady is mediocre, tendencious and very rightist..not exactly the best interlocutor for LA affaris, the WSJ should get someone more balanced to write about the region, maybe Moises Naim or some one in that end.


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