Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Coup in Honduras

Honduras is now torn between two presidents: one legally recognized by world bodies after he was deposed and forced from the country by his own soldiers, and another supported by the Central American nation's congress, courts and military.

Presidents from around Latin America were gathering in Nicaragua for meetings Monday to resolve the first military overthrow of a Central American government in 16 years, and once again Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez took center stage, casting the dispute as a rebellion by the region's poor.

"If the oligarchies break the rules of the game as they have done, the people have the right to resistance and combat, and we are with them," Chavez said in the Nicaraguan capital, Managua.

There is a deep rift between the outside world — which is clamoring for the return of democratically elected, but largely unpopular and soon-to-leave-office President Manuel Zelaya — and congressionally designated successor Roberto Micheletti.
As Matthew Yglesias points out, there is one major positive from the reaction to these events:
I’ll also note as a broader analytic point that one major benefit of their not being a cold war on, is that when something like this happens pretty much everyone is against it. Hugo Chavez and his leftist bloc in Latin America are strongly anti-coup, the Obama administration is anti-coup, the European Union is anti-coup, etc. A point that often gets overlooked in the oft-airy “democracy promotion” debate in US politics is that, in practice, the greatest gift to democracy our foreign policy can give is to create a situation in which we don’t have the kind of major great power conflict that helped fuel so many coups and insurgencies in the 1945-89 period.
Agreed. Having a foreign policy that isn't based on "overthrowing anyone we don't like" is always a good step towards democracy promotion. Our country's legacy of Latin American interventions is horrific, and the Reagan years alone are responsible for the current ruin of many states and over a hundred thousand deaths. The leader of the coup in Honduras is even a graduate of the notorious US backed "School of the Americas", proving that our past actions there continue to effect the region.

But like Yglesias said, the fact that everyone can agree on denouncing this coup is a big step forward for the relationship between the US and the rest of Latin America. After the history we've had, any progress is major progress.

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