Archive for July, 2009

July 1, 2009

The Wages of Chavismo


JULY 1, 2009

The Wages of Chavismo

The Honduran coup is a reaction to Chávez’s rule by the mob. As military “coups” go, the one this weekend in Honduras was strangely, well, democratic. The military didn’t oust President Manuel Zelaya on its own but instead followed an order of the Supreme Court. It also quickly turned power over to the president of the Honduran Congress, a man from the same party as Mr. Zelaya. The legislature and legal authorities all remain intact. We mention these not so small details because they are being overlooked as the world, including the U.S. President, denounces tiny Honduras in a way that it never has, say, Iran. President Obama is joining the U.N., Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez and other model democrats in demanding that Mr. Zelaya be allowed to return from exile and restored to power. Maybe it’s time to sort the real from the phony Latin American democrats. Associated Press The situation is messy, and we think the Hondurans would have been smarter — and better off — not sending Mr. Zelaya into exile at dawn. Mr. Zelaya was pressing ahead with a nonbinding referendum to demand a constitutional rewrite to let him seek a second four-year term. The attorney general and Honduran courts declared the vote illegal and warned he’d be prosecuted if he followed through. Mr. Zelaya persisted, even leading a violent mob last week to seize and distribute ballots imported from Venezuela. However, the proper constitutional route was to impeach Mr. Zelaya and then arrest him for violating the law. Yet the events in Honduras also need to be understood in the context of Latin America’s decade of chavismo . Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez was democratically elected in 1998, but he has since used every lever of power, legal and extralegal, to subvert democracy. He first ordered a rewrite of the constitution that allowed his simple majority in the national assembly grant him the power to rule by decree for one year and to control the judiciary. In 2004 he packed the Supreme Court with 32 justices from 20. Any judge who rules against his interests can be fired. He made the electoral tribunal that oversees elections his own political tool, denying opposition requests to inspect voter rolls and oversee vote counts. The once politically independent oil company now hires only Chávez allies, and independent television stations have had their licenses revoked. Mr. Chávez has also exported this brand of one-man-one-vote-once democracy throughout the region. He’s succeeded to varying degrees in Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina and Nicaragua, where his allies have stretched the law and tried to dominate the media and the courts. Mexico escaped in 2006 when Felipe Calderón linked his leftwing opponent to chavismo and barely won the presidency. In Honduras Mr. Chávez funneled Veneuzelan oil money to help Mr. Zelaya win in 2005, and Mr. Zelaya has veered increasingly left in his four-year term. The Honduran constitution limits presidents to a single term, which is scheduled to end in January. Mr. Zelaya was using the extralegal referendum as an act of political intimidation to force the Congress to allow a rewrite of the constitution so he could retain power. The opposition had pledged to boycott the vote, which meant that Mr. Zelaya would have won by a landslide. Such populist intimidation has worked elsewhere in the region, and Hondurans are understandably afraid that, backed by Chávez agents and money, it could lead to similar antidemocratic subversion there. In Tegucigalpa yesterday, thousands demonstrated against Mr. Zelaya, and new deputy foreign minister Marta Lorena Casco told the crowd that “Chávez consumed Venezuela, then Bolivia, after that Ecuador and Nicaragua, but in Honduras that didn’t happen.” It’s no accident that Mr. Chávez is now leading the charge to have Mr. Zelaya reinstated, and on Monday the Honduran traveled to a leftwing summit in Managua in one of Mr. Chávez’s planes. The U.N. and Organization of American States are also threatening the tiny nation with ostracism and other punishment if it doesn’t readmit him. Meanwhile, the new Honduran government is saying it will arrest Mr. Zelaya if he returns. This may be the best legal outcome, but it also runs the risk of destabilizing the country. We recall when the Clinton Administration restored Bertrand Aristide to Haiti, only to have the country descend into anarchy. As for the Obama Administration, it seems eager to “meddle” in Honduras in a way Mr. Obama claimed was counterproductive in Iran. Yet the stolen election in Iran was a far clearer subversion of democracy than the coup in Honduras. As a candidate, Mr. Obama often scored George W. Bush’s foreign policy by saying democracy requires more than an election — a free press, for example, civil society and the rule of law rather than rule by the mob. It’s a point worth recalling before Mr. Obama hands a political victory to the forces of chavismo in Latin America.

July 1, 2009

Honduras’s Coup Is President Zelaya’s Fault

By Alvaro Vargas Llosa
Updated: Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Any time a bunch of soldiers break into a presidential palace, pick up the president and put him on a flight to exile, as happened in Honduras last Sunday, you have a “coup.” But, unlike most coup targets in Latin America’s tortuous republican history, Honduras’s deposed president, Manuel Zelaya, bears the biggest responsibility for his overthrow.

A member of the rancid oligarchy he now decries, Zelaya took office in 2006 as the leader of one of the two center-right parties that have dominated Honduran politics for decades. His general platform, his support for the Central American Free Trade Agreement with the United States and his alliances with business organizations gave no inkling of the fact that halfway into his term he would become a political cross-dresser.

Suddenly, in 2007, he declared himself a socialist and began to establish close ties with Venezuela. In December of that year, he incorporated Honduras into Petrocaribe, a mechanism set up by Hugo Chávez for lavishing oil subsidies on Latin American and Caribbean countries in exchange for political subservience. Then his government joined the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America and the Caribbean (ALBA), Venezuela’s answer to the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas, ostensibly a commercial alliance but in practice a political conspiracy that seeks to expand populist dictatorship to the rest of Latin America.

Last year, following the script originally laid out by Chávez in Venezuela and adopted by Evo Morales in Bolivia and Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Zelaya announced that he would hold a referendum to set upa constituent assembly that would change the constitution that barred him from reelection. In the next few months, every legal body in Honduras — the electoral tribunal, the Supreme Court, the attorney general, the human rights ombudsman — declared the referendum unconstitutional. According to the Honduran constitution (articles 5, 373 and 374), presidential term limits cannot be changed under any circumstance; only Congress can modify the constitution; and political institutions are not subject to referendums. Honduras’s Congress, Zelaya’s own Liberal Party and a majority of Hondurans (in various polls) expressed their horror at the prospect of having Zelaya perpetuate himself and bring Honduras into the Chávez fold. In defiance of court orders, Zelaya persisted. Surrounded by a friendly mob, he broke into the military installations where the ballots were kept and ordered them distributed. The courts declared that Zelaya had placed himself outside the law, and Congress began an impeachment procedure.

This is the context in which the military, in an ill-advised move that turned a perfectly legal mechanism for stopping Zelaya into a coup, expelled the president. The fact that the constitutional procedure was subsequently followed by having Congress appoint the head of the legislative body, Roberto Micheletti, as interim president, and that the elections scheduled for November have not been canceled, is not enough to dissipate the cloud of illegitimacy that hangs over the new government. This factor has disarmed Zelaya’s critics in the international community in the face of a well-coordinated campaign led by Chávez to reinstate him and denounce the coup as an oligarchic assault on democracy.

That said, the international response, seeking to reinstate Zelaya without any mention of his illegal acts, has been highly inadequate. The Organization of American States, led by its secretary general, José Miguel Insulza, has acted like Venezuela’s poodle. At Chávez’s request, Insulza went to Nicaragua, where a summit of the anti-democratic ALBA group became the hemisphere’s political center of gravity after the coup. Insulza and other populist presidents said nothing about Zelaya’s dictatorial conduct leading up to last Sunday’s events and simply echoed Venezuela’s self-serving stance. Efforts by other countries, including the United States and many South American governments, to put some nuance into the public statements were neutralized by the spectacle unfolding in Nicaragua, which was widely reported across the Spanish-speaking world. It was sad to see Insulza suddenly remember his organization’s Inter-American Democratic charter in relation to Honduras — the same rules of democratic conduct that Chávez, Morales, Correa and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega have violated on numerous occasions while the OAS looked the other way.

The crisis in Honduras should bring to people’s attention this truth about Latin America today: The gravest threat to liberty comes from elected populists who are seeking to subject the institutions of the law to their megalomaniac whims. Given that scenario, the hemisphere’s response to Honduras’s crisis has undermined those who are trying to prevent populism from taking the region back to the times when it was forced to choose between left-wing revolution and military dictatorships.

Alvaro Vargas Llosa is the editor of “Lessons From the Poor” and director of the Center on Global Prosperity at the Independent Institute. He is syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group. His e-mail address is .

July 1, 2009

Democracia puta

Editorial diario ABC de Paraguay de Octubre del 2007 Hoy más vigente que nunca.

En estos días actuales las democracias latinoamericanas pasan por una dura prueba, pues con los mismos mecanismos de competencia electoral libre y plural algunos líderes izquierdistas que ganan elecciones se hacen del poder legítimo y desde el día siguiente de su triunfo comienzan a ejecutar sus proyectos de acabar con el sistema político mediante los cuales accedieron su mando. La eliminación de las normas que limitan el período presidencial es su primera meta a conquistar.

Tienen la intención de eternizarse en el poder y, con ello, reventar la democracia entendida como la rotación permanente de proyectos políticos y de personas. Pretenden excluir para siempre a todo el que no esté adherido a su partido. Construyen dictaduras con fórmulas “democráticas” y, cuando se sienten fuertes y disponen de los medios, inician el segundo plan: la exportación de su “revolución”.

Internamente, su primera víctima son las Fuerzas Armadas, de la cual se excluye a todo militar que no merezca la completa confianza del nuevo único líder. Una purga general despoja a las Fuerzas Armadas de los jefes y oficiales institucionalistas, dejándola a cargo de “los leales”. Después arremete contra el Poder Judicial, realizando las mismas tareas depuratorias para luego, ya con los principales resortes controlados, iniciar el proceso de desmantelamiento de la prensa no alineada y la supresión progresiva de la libertad de expresión.

El resultado final de este procedimiento es la anulación completa, si no la supresión definitiva de toda idea, doctrina, orientación partidaria o movimiento contrario a la ideología oficial de la nueva dictadura. Sucumbe la libertad en todas sus formas tradicionales y lo que resta es un pueblo indefenso sometido a sus nuevas cadenas. Se confía en que el transcurso del tiempo borrará pronto el recuerdo de la democracia anterior y el beneficio del goce de sus libertades y, entonces, un pueblo atontado, obligado a trabajar para sobrevivir y para alimentar al Partido, a reprimir sus dudas, inquietudes y oposiciones, acabará convertido en un dócil rebaño de borregos, como bien recordamos los paraguayos que vivimos la era stronista.

Este es el proceso en marcha que vemos actualmente en el panorama político de Venezuela, Bolivia y Ecuador. En particular y más claramente en la primera, donde Hugo Chávez, con ya una década de gobierno, se apresta a dar el golpe final haciéndose coronar gobernante vitalicio imponiendo en el país una nefasta dictadura de corte marxista al estilo del que triunfara y se impusiera en Rusia en 1917, desconociendo el triste final que esos sangrientos regímenes tuvieron después de seis décadas de explotar y oprimir a sus pueblos, asesinar a sus adversarios y poner en grave riesgo la paz mundial.

Hugo Chávez, un dinosaurio que surgió de las cavernas más oscuras de la historia, está a punto de convertirse en amo y señor definitivo de la suerte de su pueblo y de los cuantiosos recursos económicos de su país, excluyéndose de toda competencia real y suprimiendo todo obstáculo que pueda interponerse entre él y su proyecto de vitaliciado. Tiene, además, el dinero necesario para comprar voluntades y pagar el precio de “lealtades”, dentro y fuera de su país.

Chávez es un dictador, pero UN DICTADOR MUY RICO; dispone hoy del poder absoluto de hacer con el dinero producido por el petróleo lo que se le antoje; ya no tiene encima ninguna contraloría, nadie a quien deba rendir cuentas. Con su gruesa petrobilletera recorre ahora América Latina y financia partidos, movimientos, organizaciones sociales y campañas electorales. Lo que no puede comprar, lo alquila o neutraliza. Al gobierno argentino le compra bonos del tesoro de Kirchner que nadie quiere y así puede exhibir sus sonrisas de complicidad, aplausos y abrazos, pasear libremente por ese país pronunciando encendidos discursos llamando a la “revolución popular” y haciendo otros teatros para exportar su dictadura.

Entre los cuales figura en lugar prioritario su desesperada intención de introducirse en el Mercosur para, una vez dentro de él, agilizar su intervencionismo en la política interna de los países miembros, con los cuales ya no tiene ninguna afinidad, porque mal que bien, en Argentina, Brasil, Paraguay y Uruguay continúan rigiendo principios básicos del estado de derecho, del régimen democrático y de libertades públicas. Chávez va a pagar en efectivo por su ingreso y tiene billetes a patadas. Quiere comprarles a Brasil y Argentina lo más barato posible la legitimidad internacional que su pertenencia del Mercosur cree le va a proporcionar.

La pregunta que continuaremos formulando una y otra vez es ¿para qué sirve el Protocolo de Ushuaia que pretendió establecer un compromiso para todos sus estados miembros de conservar intactas las instituciones democráticas? En este documento Argentina, Bolivia, Brasil, Chile, Paraguay y Uruguay declaran que “La plena vigencia de las instituciones democráticas es esencial para el desarrollo de los procesos de integración entre los Estados Partes del presente Protocolo” (Art. 1) y se comprometen formalmente a que “toda ruptura del orden democrático en uno de los Estados Partes del presente Protocolo dará lugar a la aplicación de los procedimientos previstos en los artículos siguientes” (Art. 3).

¿Van a admitir a Venezuela, cuyo dictador por anticipado ya se excluyó de dichas cláusulas? ¿O lo van a admitir primero para luego aplicarle la “Cláusula Democrática”? El absurdo y el ridículo rodean a esta intención de prostituir al Mercosur, pero está en marcha y solamente los parlamentarios brasileños y paraguayos tienen en sus manos la posibilidad de impedir esta vergonzosa deserción de los principios fundamentales declarados en nuestras cartas fundamentales y tratados de integración.

A los gobernantes actuales de nuestros países, que tanto cacarean su apego a la democracia y a las libertades fundamentales, y que ciertamente gracias a ellas alcanzaron el poder, ahora les tiemblan las rodillas y se les afilan los dientes a la vista de la deslumbrante petrobilletera abierta de un rústico dictador inescrupuloso, dispuesto a todo, incluyendo el soborno de los “demócratas”.

Si nuestros presidentes del Mercosur, aun sabiendo cuál es su obligación histórica con la defensa de los principios y valores políticos que iluminan nuestros pueblos, son capaces de venderse o de liarse en una relación adúltera con un dictador megalómano surgido de las catacumbas de un pasado siniestro, tendremos que convenir que nuestras democracias se venden como auténticas putas. No cabe ya una calificación más dura para describirlas.