October 6, 2010


Democracy is Winning in Latin America (Jaime Daremblum, October 6, 2010, Weekly Standard)

[W]hile the U.S. economy has been struggling through a painfully weak recovery, Latin America’s rebound has been remarkably strong. After posting robust growth rates prior to the global recession, the regional economy handled the downturn fairly well, and it is now projected to expand by around 5 percent this year.

“Economic growth is going hand in hand with social progress,” notes the Economist. “Tens of millions of Latin Americans have climbed out of poverty and joined a swelling lower-middle class.” A region that was once notorious for its chronic economic mismanagement is now drawing the attention of multinational corporations across the globe. As Bloomberg reports, 30 percent of the 300 U.S. companies that participated in a recent HSBC survey believe that “Latin America offers the best opportunity for growth over the next six months,” compared with only 25 percent who think China does. To borrow from Ronald Reagan’s famous line, it is morning in Latin America. [...]

Just look at Honduras, a true Latin American success story, whose remarkable democratic achievement is sadly underappreciated by many journalists and politicians here in the United States. Not so long ago, it appeared that Honduras would become another Venezuelan satellite. Manuel Zelaya, elected president in 2006, had brought his country into the Chávez-led Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, and he was gradually steering it toward authoritarianism. In June 2009, Zelaya attempted to hold a referendum that the Honduran supreme court had rejected as illegal. It was a thinly veiled power grab, representing a direct challenge to the country’s constitutional order. The supreme court responded by authorizing Zelaya’s removal from office.

Foreign governments cried foul, labeling his ouster a military coup. But a subsequent U.S. Law Library of Congress study concluded that: “The judicial and legislative branches applied constitutional and statutory law in the case against President Zelaya in a manner that was judged by the Honduran authorities from both branches of the government to be in accordance with the Honduran legal system.” Indeed, the country’s democratic institutions rose to the occasion and prevented a would-be dictator from using mob tactics to subvert the law.

Last November, Honduras held its 2009 national elections right on schedule. The victor in the presidential contest, Porfirio Lobo of the conservative National Party, has since worked to assist the post-Zelaya reconciliation process. “President Lobo has done everything he said he would do,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared in June. “He was elected through a free and fair, legitimate election. He provided political amnesty. He set up a truth commission. He has been very committed to pursuing a policy of reintegration.” As a result, many Latin American governments have reestablished formal diplomatic relations with Honduras.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 6, 2010 5:57 PM
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