Friday, August 14, 2009

Honduras: What about those elections?

As the days peel away, it's time for a closer look at that festival of democracy, the Honduran elections, and what approach the popular movement will take to them.

The big spike in repression against anti-coup demonstrators of the last two weeks, combined with the clear signals by the U.S. government that it's content to sit by silently and pretend that the November 29 elections will wipe the slate clean, presents supporters of genuine democracy with the decision of whether to boycott the elections or participate in them.

The choice might seem obvious, but is complicated by several factors. One of the biggest is the presence on the ballot for the first time in many years of an independent candidate who is a long-standing leader of the popular movement, Carlos Reyes. In addition to succeeding in having his 70,000 signatures accepted by the election authorities, Reyes lucked into [Sp.] the 'end spot' on the ballot, the next best thing to being first. There is also another left candidate, Cesar Ham of the Unificacion Democratica (positioned next to Reyes on the ballot); the UD has gotten about 2% of the presidential vote in the last several elections.

Honduras holds elections for president, Congress, and mayor at the same time, every four years. Voters mark different ballots for president, legislature, and mayor (of the two big cities), and place them in separate ballot boxes (urnas; hence, the hypothetical fourth ballot asking Congress to call a constitutional assembly, the 'Cuarta Urna'). For president, a voter marks an X below the picture and party symbol of his/her chosen candidate. The mayoral vote works the same way.

On the Congressional ballot, voters don't directly choose candidates, but vote for a party. [See update at end of paragraph.] Before the election, party bosses draw up a list of Congressional candidates for each department (the equivalent of states here), and the proportion of the votes each party receives in that department determines how many of those candidates become members of the next Congress. Position high on the party list is obviously crucial, and is determined in secret by the people who run the party. Like I said, a festival of democracy. Update: 6:40pm, 23 Oct - The Congressional ballot contains a row of candidates for each party, with pictures and names. In theory, voters can pick and choose among the members of different slates; in practice, they tend to vote for those of the same party as their choice for president. In the Liberal and National parties, the congressional slates are chosen in the primary elections. Each presidential candidate puts forward a slate for his/her "movement". The tendency to straight-ticket voting is even more intense in the primary, so a good number of congressional incumbents who signed up with the losing presidential candidates' slates find themselves out in the cold this November.[End update]

The National and Liberal parties that have dominated Honduran politics for decades represent two wings of the economic elite who run the country [link added 3:05pm, 16 Aug]. This explains the backing of big funders of both parties for the coup, and their outrage at Zelaya's increasing closeness to the popular movement, particularly during the second half of his term. The movement for constitutional reform, the coup that was intended to stop it cold, and the resistance to the coup have begun to forge a possible realignment: an informal coalition of reformist and genuinely liberal Liberal Party members, UD partisans, supporters of the mildly social democratic indigenous party PINU, and the large group of poor and working-class Hondurans who don't trust the big parties and don't usually vote (turnout runs less than 50%), but who might be inspired to support an independent reform candidate.

Before the coup, organizations backing Reyes' candidacy were hoping to use the November elections to expand the voter pool and build pressure for constitutional change, since both major party candidates, Zelaya's 2005 National Party opponent Porfirio Lobo and his own former vice president, Elvin Santos, opposed the 'Cuarta Urna' campaign.

Now? Both major party candidates also supported the June 28 coup, whatever they may say now or in the future. Many governments in the hemisphere (but not yet, shamefully, our own) have explicitly refused to recognize the winner of elections held under the coup regime. Conditions for free and fair elections simply don't exist. Reyes himself has been arrested in anti-coup demonstrations, and on July 30, at the roadblock at Durazno in northern Tegucigalpa, was seriously injured when the police beat and charged after participants. After surgery ten days ago, his doctors advised him not to go in the street again for another month. Police have refused to guarantee his safety.

The National Party is the clear front-runner entering the campaign; Zelaya only narrowly beat Lobo in 2005, and the Liberal Party is severely split and discredited as a vehicle for change. As the probable winners, Lobo and his backers have the most to lose from the delegitimizing effects of an election boycott. This could explain the recent article in the National Party pro-coup newspaper El Heraldo that talks up a possible left-liberal voting coalition in November. More evidence that an election boycott is a highly unpleasant specter for the powers-that-be was the reaction of U.S. Ambassador Llorens when confronted with the idea by popular movement leaders he'd invited for a chat.

Stay-away boycotts can be effective for very large, well-established mass organizations that have already shown their strength at the polls. But an election boycott is a really tough way for a still-emerging, fragile coalition to start out. A movement that's building for long-term constitutional change, that depends on expanding the electorate, would benefit from giving supporters something to do at the polls that sends the message of rejecting the coup-supporting major parties and supporting change, while not actually legitimizing the election by casting a valid ballot. After all, they're going to want those new and infrequent voters voting for real in the not-too-distant future, and the experience of participating is invaluable preparation.

I'm not in on the discussion that is starting to happen among the organizations involved, and I'm sure there are many strategic and tactical considerations of which I have no inkling. But I do have one thought, a suggestion to offer for what it may be worth: A campaign to have voters circle the two candidates on right-hand end of the ballot. It wouldn't count as a vote for either one; the result would be a spoiled ballot. But it will be unmistakable, and recorded, in the voting results; each party is allowed to have representatives present when the ballots are opened and counted. The symbolism is also perfect: a circle that encompasses independents, the traditional left, and (depending on the size of the circle) a little slice of the Liberal Party.

Food for thought, offered in humility and the full awareness that my ignorance of the situation probably blinds me to the many problems with the idea.

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At 8:53 PM, August 14, 2009, Anonymous Ovid said...

Thanks Nell. That's an extremely well-written and intelligent post. And that's a creative idea you put forward, though I have no idea whether it would work as a practical matter.

At 12:00 AM, August 15, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

More or lesss. Did you come to Honduras? Did you read our Constitution? Did you investigate the actions of the Government of Mr. Zelaya? It doesn't look like because you say it was a coup d' stat. Please respect our laws and our free determination. You can not impose us USA laws with empeachment that we don't have, our law is different to yours.

At 5:45 AM, August 15, 2009, Blogger Nell said...

Yes, I've read your Constitution and I've seen how your Congress and Supreme Court treat it like toilet paper when it's convenient for them. (See the link before Elvin Santos' name for a good example of the games that have been played, in this case to get around the prohibition on a vice-president being able to run for president.) The current Constitution, Honduras' twelfth since 1838, dates from 1982 and has has been amended 22 times since then.

Every country in the UN General Assembly and the Organization of American States has called the situtation what it is, a coup.

No one's imposing 'USA laws' on you; the head of your military broke several of your own laws and violated Chapter II, Article 81 of your Constitution when he forcibly expelled President Zelaya, a Honduran citizen, from the country. He, and the rest of the illegitimate and criminal regime, denied Zelaya even the pretense of due process.

"Please respect our laws": tell it to the mirror.

At 11:48 AM, August 15, 2009, Blogger RAJ said...

This is an extraordinarily clear description of the challenges posed by the electoral system to making change happen.

Especially important is the description of how Congress members are elected. While the President serves, by constitutional mandate, for a single four-year term, congress members are under no such limitation. Congress has the sole effective power of amending the constitution. Congress has the power to approve the Supreme Court nominations every seven years, in which the executive branch has no effective input. And there are other congressional powers.

Spoiling ballots is a well-trusted means to protest illegitimate elections, especially in circumstances where authoritarian regimes force participation in elections lacking any real choice. Unlike some other proposed solutions to the conundrum of how to build a movement while suffering an illegitimate election, such as putting on the ballot a bishop (not possible legally under the constitution), this one can be effectively implemented.

My own idea (I won't call it even a suggestion, for similar reasons to those Nell expresses) was for there to be a counter-election: collect signatures on anti-ballots or petitions stating that the person is not voting because of the illegitimacy of the national election under the authoritarian regime.

What I think we have in common is a belief that there needs to be a measurable signal of the dissatisfaction with the upcoming election. Too bad surveys are illegal...

At 12:32 PM, August 15, 2009, Anonymous said...

"On the Congressional ballot, voters don't directly choose candidates, but vote for a party.... Before the election, party bosses draw up a list of Congressional candidates for each department..... Position high on the party list is obviously crucial, and is determined in secret by the people who run the party. Like I said, a festival of democracy."

Isn't this pretty much the format in a lot of parliamentary democracies? It sounds almost exactly like the process in Germany for Bundestag elections, although I don't know whether the lists are concocted in "secret" or at some sort of open party meeting. Why then disparage the Honduran system?

"The National and Liberal parties that have dominated Honduran politics for decades represent two wings of the economic elite who run the country."

What is the evidence for this statement? If one plugged in "Republican," "Democratic," and "U.S." in the sentence, would it have equal validity? Like so many things with regard to Honduras, I am trying to figure out where facts end and opinion begins.

"Conditions for free and fair elections simply don't exist."

Is the basis for this solely the police actions against "anti-coup" demonstrators? Solely the fact that Zelaya was removed from office? If there is something else, what is it?

"A movement that's building for long-term constitutional change..."

What constitutional changes are desired by the "popular movement"? Is this solely about rejecting term limits on the President? Or are other constitutional issues involved as well, and if so, what are they?

Thanks in advance.

At 1:13 PM, August 15, 2009, Blogger Thomas Nephew said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 1:14 PM, August 15, 2009, Blogger Thomas Nephew said...

Is the basis for this solely the police actions against "anti-coup" demonstrators? Solely the fact that Zelaya was removed from office? If there is something else, what is it?

Turning that around -- isn't that enough? I just clicked through on the links in "big spike in repression" at the top of the post -- it looks pretty bad to me.

At 2:00 PM, August 15, 2009, Blogger Nell said...

RobertNAtl: What constitutional changes are desired... Is this solely about term limits on the President?

Not only is it not solely about term limits, it's not primarily about term limits; in fact, it's not about term limits at all, except in the minds of its opponents. In the flyer that the Zelaya government was using to promote the June 28 poll, there was no mention of term limits, but specifically included was a proposal for mid-term popular 'votes of confidence' for legislators and president, to keep them accountable.

Some of the changes desired by those pushing constitutional reform are:

- Changing Congressional elections to have members represent districts, so that there is some connection with and accountability to constituents. The Honduran system is much, much less representative than other parliamentary systems. It is also completely without elected department (state)-level governments.

- Constitutional guarantees of representation and rights for indigenous populations -- the Garifuna, the Lenca, and others.

- Making the Supreme Court a more truly independent body. It has changed over time from being a creature of the President to being a creature of the Congress; neither of these provides the separation of powers that would help de-politicize legal issues.

- Currently, the politicized state of the Supreme Court is magnified by the fact that its members appoint all the judges and magistrates in the country on the levels beneath it; this would be another area of reform.

And so on. Read the State Department's annual human rights report on Honduras to get an idea of some others.

Wrt Liberal-National Party as alternating wings of the business/political elite: Before the coup, this was regarded as a truism. A recent AP story entitled 'Honduran Coup Shows Business Elite Still in Charge' (google it; I saved the article but not the link) gives the flavor. Now that the initial propaganda about "rule of law" has dissipated, the oligarchs are quite frank about the actual concerns that led to their support for the coup. Also read this for a list of who owns what among the coup-makers.

There's corporate media concentration and enormous corporate influence in both parties' politics here, and it's gotten a lot worse over the last 30years, but it's nothing like the intermarried cliques that literally run Honduras.

Honduras is the third poorest country in the hemisphere and one of the most unequal in income and wealth distribution. Some 40% of the population survives on $2 a day. Major-party members of Congress and Presidential candidates are almost exclusively drawn from the wealthiest 5%, and structural realities of the political system give a small collection of the very richest families functional control of the two parties.

The burden of proof is on those who question this to find and point to the evidence that might contradict it: successful politicians not from from the upper class, presidents or legislators who achieved significant changes benefiting the poor majority of Hondurans. There was one, as a matter of fact...and now he's been removed by force.

By the way: "anti-coup" demonstrators

Why the quotation marks? Do you think that protests against the coup have some hidden agenda? Do you doubt there has been a coup?

At 3:24 PM, August 15, 2009, Blogger Nell said...

When you look at what's happened and happening in concrete terms rather than sanitized language, it's pretty hard to accept that conditions could be consistent with holding elections that would be legitimate.

How was Zelaya removed from office? Not in any kind of legal proceeding, but by masked special forces rousting him out of bed at five in the morning, forcing him onto a helicopter at gunpoint and flying him out of the country. Then an irregular session of the legislature was called, one kept secret from a sixth of its members. A fake "resignation letter" was produced, and the usurper was voted in "unanimously" (by means of non-Congressmembers voting on behalf of those members kept away from the secret session).

The coup government issued decrees establishing curfews that the police expand and contract, and have included 24-hour bans on movement for days at a time (the whole two departments closest to the Nicaragua border crossing in late July). It suspended five of the most fundamental constitutional freedoms during curfew hours.

What are the police actions? Shooting live ammunition at crowds. Wading in with batons, breaking the arms of presidential candidates and members of Congress. Refusing to obey a judge's habeas corpus orders, and then prosecutors refusing to hear the complaint about the police defiance. Beating and arresting photographers and reporters (three yesterday, including a staffer for Tiempo, a major paper).

Today Honduras' commercial media were given their talking points by the coup government, literally: While the Inter-American Human Rights Commission is visiting next week, they are not to use the words "crisis" or "polarization".

Perhaps it would help to think about this in U.S. terms. Imagine that Pres. Barack Obama tried, with nine months left in office, to push single-payer health care through Congress by mobilizing millions of his supporters for it.

You should be able to gauge the scale and tenor of the Congressional reaction, given the screaming and mouth-foaming about "socialism" and "death panels" we're seeing now in response to the tame, insurer-friendly fiddly reform actually being put forward. Under this scenario it would be magnified by the active resentment and opposition of many more members of Congress, caught between their promises to the insurers who fund their campaigns and their constituents whipped up by "Mel" Obama.

Now imagine that after Congress began passing laws against Obama being able to email supporters to mobilize them to hearings and town halls, Obama defied those laws, and ... one early morning, Delta Force guys shoot their way into the White House, bundle him onto a helicopter, fly him off and dump him on the runway.

Etc. Imagine the demonstrations, and imagine that the police are militarized in response. A few demonstrators are killed with shots to the head at public demonstrations (who can forget the first, when hundreds of thousands surrounded O'Hare waiting for his plane to land?), a few Obama for America local organizers disappear, the bodies of a couple of African-American men who'd been arrested at a demo turn up on the roadside, with dozens of stab wounds.

The military occupies and shuts down the studios of MSNBC; a court order reopens it, but after it comes back on, no Rachel Maddow and no Keith Olbermann. The economy takes a big hit. Imagine this happened in the summer of the last year of his second term, with the nominees for the fall campaign already set. Do the conditions for free and fair elections exist?

At 4:11 PM, August 15, 2009, Anonymous said...

Thanks for the detailed response!!

I have been reading a little in the meantime too, and I certainly agree that free and fair elections are not possible, given the restrictions on media that are in place now.

As for the "anti-coup" in quotation marks, I am unconvinced that what took place should be called a "coup," since the Supreme Court ordered his ouster and the military never took over operational control of the government. But I also agree that the military forcibly transporting Zelaya out of the country was illegal. (Not meaning to piss you off here although I am imagining that is the reaction.)

More another time but I like your blog and think it is very informative.

At 6:31 PM, August 15, 2009, Blogger Nell said...

Glad you get something out of it, Robert.

It doesn't piss me off that you don't recognize what happened as a coup. It makes me wonder what it is that makes your perception so different than that of Pres. Obama, the U.S. ambassador, every other government in the hemisphere and world, all of which do recognize it as a coup.

The State Dept. won't give it the official designation because they don't want to take the actions that would require -- not because they believe some hooey about the Supreme Court's ruling makes it legal. (The court didn't order Zelaya's "ouster", only that he be brought before a judicial authority. Read here what the SC did and didn't do.)

What's your investment in seeing it that way? Why so quick to shrug off the ousting of an elected government? Do you think the one we have is so secure? Or that it will remain so if powerful minorities can just ditch elected governments if they become too populist? That's going to become a trend all over again if this coup's allowed to stand.

This one wasn't different, in its essence, than what could have happened to Roosevelt if Smedley Butler had gone along with what the Liberty League proposal. Then, as now, the anti-democratic powers pulling the strings weren't the military, but the money men.

It doesn't matter whether unelected civilians or unelected military take formal or operational control of government; it's the ditching of an elected government by means not specified in the constitution, or the short-circuiting of specified means, that makes it a coup.

At 6:40 PM, August 15, 2009, Blogger Nell said...

Left out the link about the Supreme Court's ruling(s).

More here.

At 11:30 PM, August 15, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A gold star for an excellent post and an excellent thread, Nell.

There are concerns (see Oscar's report on Adrienne Pine) that the fix is in in the upcoming elections. I don't think Oscar is right. While Europe has not had good reporting on the coup, I think the human rights violations are already serious enough to prevent any whitewash, and if the story about Israeli special forces training Honduran death squads gets legs, that would pretty much end it. But because the story is taking place below the radar of most people, the Hondurans have a legitimate concern about being sold down the river.

--Charles of MercuryRising

At 1:37 PM, August 16, 2009, Blogger Nell said...

Oscar's reporting on events inside Honduras has been very solid. I'm 99% sure that he's wrong about EU recognition of the elections, though. I wonder if that's a piece of propaganda reported as fact by the coup-supporting papers (it's certainly not beyond them). I found nothing to support it by news-googling English-language sources, but will try again en español.

At 2:01 PM, August 16, 2009, Blogger Nell said...

Found what may be the source for Oscar's concern: a Prensa Latina story from August 13, datelined Berlin, citing an internal EU report:

"UE considera apoyar elecciones convocadas por golpistas hondureños"

Still a far cry from an official announcement of EU recognition, but not a great sign. This is the poison the US passivity is allowing to spread.

While I was writing this, got an email from Adrienne P. with a couple of other sources for the story, one in coup paper La Prensa and the other aporrea. Will read them over and report back; it makes a difference which of all these was published first (if LP, then it's likely to be golpista propaganda).

At 2:54 PM, August 16, 2009, Blogger Nell said...

Here's my translation of the relevant passage of the PL story (aporrea source is identical story):

:: by Harald C. Neuber
Berlin, 13 August (Prensa Latina) The European Union (EU) is considering support for the upcoming elections in Honduras organized by the regime installed in that country by the coup, according to an internal report made available today.

According to the document, to which Prensa Latina had access, the
Commission for Latin America of the Council of the EU is discussing sending an observer mission to the elections.

The requirement for the dispatch of such a mission would be a "positive development" in the situation in the Central American country, said the four-page document.

Berlín, 13 ago (PL) La Unión Europea (UE) considera apoyar la celebración de elecciones anticipadas en Honduras, organizadas por el régimen instalado en ese país tras el golpe de estado, según un informe interno conocido hoy.

De acuerdo con el documento, al que tuvo acceso Prensa Latina, la Comisión para América Latina del Consejo de la UE está discutiendo el envío de una Misión de Observación a Honduras para esos comicios.

El requisito para el despliegue de la misión sería un "desarrollo positivo" de la situación en el país centroamericano, dice el texto de cuatro páginas.

My reading: Something less than the restoration of Zelaya might satisfy the EU, given the apparent lack of will for that in the US govt. Micheletti stepping down in favor of ....???

I'm not convinced that this document by itself is a huge blow; it's a far cry from official recognition of elections held under the coup regime. But it does point up what a clusterfvck the current US approach is leading to.

At 4:53 PM, August 16, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where is the freedom of speech in this Blog? Did you get more angry when I asked you if work in ACRON?
It is a way to understando your ideology.

At 5:52 PM, August 16, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, Anonymous...

The fact that you keep talking about "ACRON" is enough to discredit whatever it was you had to say. It's like pasting a sign on yourself saying, "someone else tells me what to think."

Take some time, read the blog and the links, and you'll find that no one could say that about its owner.

--Charles of Mercury Rising

At 1:58 AM, August 18, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nell, to answer your question on RAJ's blog, the editorial probably came from the 13th. I was the one who linked it on Adrienne's blog, and I linked it as soon as I found it.

(I posted on RAJ's blog, but the comment is at this time lost in moderation)


At 7:30 PM, August 18, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes I can. First of all he erased my second comment which shows his intolerance. Second: it's easy to wake up in the free South Carolina with no fear to be hit in the street by a Zelaya's demostrator. Third: He's given the relative freedom we have in HONDURAS to sent us deep into Chávez XXI century socialism. Fourth: His writing shows he has decided what is good for us. Fifth: He won't see a lifetime effort to reach 65 with self retirement. All this person wants is to help Zelaya because he was sent away in Pijamas. If life in my country could be that simple.
Socialism is good only in books.

At 9:32 PM, August 18, 2009, Blogger Nell said...


Your second comment contained nothing about the topic of the post and was a baiting, personal comment aimed at me. I will cheerfully and instantly delete any other such comments.

There is no "freedom of speech" in blog comment sections, which are the private space of the blog owner. When you're here, you're a guest in my house. Rude or disruptive guests have a very short stay.

The freedom of speech you do have is the ability to start your own blog, and to say anything you'd like there.

I'm leaving your last comment up only as a demonstration of your really exceptional cluelessness.

At 9:37 PM, August 18, 2009, Blogger Nell said...

@Charles --

Thanks for letting me know; I just saw the comment at RAJ's.

Wouldn't you think Jaime Rosenthal could spare a few nickels to have someone see that Tiempo content includes date and time stamps?

At 11:03 PM, August 18, 2009, Blogger Nell said...

Back to the topic of elections and the approach of the popular movement to them:

It's going to be difficult for the various people and organizations involved to have the full and frank discussion these decisions need, for a variety of reasons. Charles notes Oscar's unhappiness with recent closed-door meetings by the leadership; I understand that reaction, but also very much feel for the people in those meetings.

1 - Time is growing short.
RAJ let me know that the official date for campaigning to start is August 31, and elsewhere she or RNS mentioned that September 5 is when the ballots are finalized for printing.

2 - There's a lot of uncertainty right now.
Moves by external actors could make a big difference. There are signs of cracks among the coup-makers. New segments of Honduran society are joining the resistance to the coup, and others who haven't been involved are surely considering it.
Might the OAS visit produce a resolution? How are the OAS, the EU, and the U.S. ultimately going to respons to elections held under the current regime? Will a credible threat of an election boycott or nullification campaign move the U.S. off its complacent stance?

3 - Disagreements are never easy to handle in public.
That goes triple when they could threaten the unity of a coalition very much under siege. The organizations have maintained a remarkable show of unity up to now.

Carlos Ham made a speech at the August 11 demo in Tegucigalpa stressing the importance of unity in the November elections that got big cheers; he seemed to be talking about uniting behind Reyes.

But Reyes, wisely, is saying that he's going to be consulting the people whose signatures put him on the ballot, once he's up and about (he's still recovering from the aftermath of the police attack and ensuing surgery).

It's impossible to know what kind of vote a unified independent bloc might get. The vision of a crushing defeat for the major parties is an enjoyable one; both parties have definitely lost credibility by their participation in the coup and the events leading up to it. But my guess is they're not going to be driven from the field in one election cycle.

My heart is with everyone involved. Keep your minds open, your feet on the ground, and your eyes on the prize.

At 6:46 PM, August 19, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Muy bien, no se preocupe, no voy a volver a visitar su Blog. Lo hice porque me llamo la atención como una persona puede estar engañando a su lectores.
No se moleste en contestarme porque ya no voy a regresar y repito "no importa que usted insista de que fue un golpe, no lo fue y la verdad siempre prevalece".
Que tenga buen dia.

At 4:51 AM, August 26, 2009, Anonymous Dennis Zelaya said...

First, regarding the congressional ballot, your info is actually 2 electoral processes outdated , currently, when we celebrated the ïnternas¨or internal elections, every political party held an election to result in the candidates to present to the november general election, , You can research in la tribuna or el heraldo online and you will find the congressional ballot with all the candidates names and faces .

Second, thou I strongly dislike the way matters were handled when Zelaya was kicked out, I also share the idea that it was the result of lack of precedents. As latin american countries, we are used to the typical military coups , not a constitutional replacement, therefore , the lack of experience in a very young democracy tends to magnify the errors.

Was it a coup ? perhaps ; am I going to cry about it? NO WAY.

The terrible experience we had under Zelaya regime is the reason why a vast majority of the population is quite happy with his departure.

While the world turns it's back to Honduras , all we have to do is remember how Zelaya pushed the socialist agenda as a way to gain popular support. As I can see that you certainly investigate before posting a comment, I urge you to recall the way the former president bought supporters by means of populist reforms that sucked the life out of our national budget and sent a good quantity of businesses into bankruptcy ( he raised minimun wage by almost 85% ), started giving away bonuses to teachers, taxi drivers, and basically everyone who put up their hands.

Once the masses where bought, he started with the old " the oligarchy prevents the progress of the people" speech , ir order to call for a National Assembly to be constituted ( a crime in itself ), may I ask , if our constitution has almost 400 articles, of which only 7 cannot be reformed, is a totally new cosntitution needed? considering that these petreous articles refer to lenght of term, eligibility to office , independence of the powers of the state ,and territorial definitions , is it really that necessary to revoke it?

Calling for an Assembly is just a way to give the new constituents a blank page to draft whatever they choose, as recent history has taught us in Venezuela and other countries under venezuelan influence.

This is why we are happy to have kicked him out, I agree, it was done in the worst way possible , but it had to be done, no matter the cost, after all, every person who critizes us won't have to live under his regime,but we would certainly would.

Finally, regarding the leftist candidates, the reason that these parties never reach a good portion of the votes is not that bi-partidism runs so deep in the country , it really obeys to the lack of credibility of their leaders, for example Cesar Ham has publicly admitting selling his dispensas to the highest bidder( under honduran law , congressmen are allowed to import 2 vehicles during their office term , the spirit of the law is that this vehicles are to be used by them to visit their departmentos and carry on their work, in practice , thats why all of them drive land cruisers and mercedes ) after publicly calling other congressmen who did this thieves ( really, look it up, its in youtube).

Carlos H reyes is the leader of one of the biggest unions in Honduras, but in reality the last day he WORKED was the day he joined the union, if you catch my drift.Since then he had lived of protesting that the food is cold ,the water is too wet, and basically anything he can think of while having braekfast

Just my 2 cents

At 10:36 AM, August 27, 2009, Blogger Nell said...

@Dennis: I'm grateful for your correction about the Congressional primaries. Would you be kind enough to provide me a link to one of the news stories that shows the Congressional ballot and/or covers the results? Were the Congressional primaries held at the same time as the presidential, November 30?

At 8:47 PM, August 29, 2009, Anonymous Dennis Zelaya said...

hi Nell , sorry I could not find the actual electoral sheets but I´m linkung to a newspaper article citing the results, as well as a partial image of an electoral sheet. Regarding the dates, yes they where held the same day, with the liberal party having three electoral boxes ( presidential, congrssional and city council candidates ) and the nacional party having a fourth to elect the party´s own authorities ( central commitee)
The other parties did not had primary elections as they where only presenting one candidateís/Ediciones/2008/12/29/Noticias/Tribunal-oficializa-los-resultados-de-internas

At 9:00 PM, August 29, 2009, Anonymous Dennis Zelaya said...

Tried the first link and it did not quite work, but I tried googgling the following text and it took me right there

Tribunal oficializa los resultados de internas

At 7:11 PM, September 06, 2009, Blogger Nell said...

Thanks, Dennis. I've used your search tip and will be updating with a correction and explanation of the Congressional vote fairly soon.

At 6:52 PM, October 23, 2009, Blogger Nell said...

Okay, not all that soon, in fact a month and a half late. But it's updated now, and thanks to Dennis' comment I've done quite a bit of further reading about the primary elections.


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