Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Fresh Start for Honduras

There is hope for Honduras after all. Last week the country installed a new president, and the ousted president, his term of office expired even if he had not been impeached, agreed to go into exile rather than face a trial for the illegal election he tried to hold. Foreign observers, from countries that had objected to the impeachment and removal from office of the former president, failed to find any fault with the presidential election, which went ahead as scheduled with candidates who were selected before the impeachment took place, and most countries have recognized the result.

This outcome doesn’t entirely resolve the constitutional crisis in Honduras, but at least it defuses it. Serious problems in the constitution there will have to be resolved eventually, but at least that will happen legally, and not through the efforts of an outlaw president to seize power and suspend the constitution.

The response of foreign governments and international organizations to the crisis in Honduras was downright shameful, and the United States and its Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, along with the Organization of American States, Venezuela, and Brazil, particularly deserve criticism for their attempt to suspend the rule of law in Honduras and install a dictator there. It is true enough that the ousted president held political positions that were favorable to these countries and organizations. But Honduras is not an enemy country. Maintaining the rule of law there is more important, and more beneficial in the long run, than any short-term political gain that might have resulted from overturning the law. One of the problems in suspending the rule of law is that it can be very difficult to bring it back. Honduras faces challenges, but at least it does not face that challenge.