Corruption and Abuse of Power Infest Honduras Presidential Race
Otto Reich: Corruption and Abuse of Power Infest Honduras Presidential Race
During the recently concluded U.S. presidential campaign, many Latin American journalists and academics asked why Latin America was hardly mentioned. Although Gov. Romney did mention the region in each of the three debates, the question deserves a more complete answer. This region is far too important to the U.S. to be ignored so widely by U.S. political leaders. Why is it?
One of the many reasons is that Latin America does not present its best face to the world and is therefore not taken seriously. The image of these countries that Americans too often see is that of a caricature: that of a clownish demagogue, or a boisterous “caudillo” dressed in the combat fatigues he might have worn had he ever seen combat; or of an incessant talker in enamored with the sound of his or her voice; and in some cases someone who combines many of the above characteristics.
Seldom do serious, wise, or even honest faces symbolize the rich continent to our South. Is it any wonder then, that senior policy-makers in the U.S. Government have difficulty focusing on this region? It is especially hard when those policy-makers have access to information that documents the abuse of power, moral degradation and illicit enrichment in which many foreign “leaders” engage.
When U.S. audiences watch the occasional television report about this region, or read press accounts, which are the Latin American faces that stare back? Frequently, those of an emaciated Fidel Castro of Cuba; a garrulous Hugo Chavez of Venezuela; an eccentric Evo Morales of Bolivia; a rabid Rafael Correa of Ecuador; and a devious Cristina Kirchner of Argentina. Those come to mind, at least to the few observers that even know what those characters look like.
Besides being dishonest and dangerous (for example, all the above preside over rampantly corrupt governments and some have close ties with Iran, regional terrorist groups or organized crime) these rulers have something else in common: they were all originally elected in votes that were relatively free and fair. We must ask how is it possible that otherwise intelligent constituencies choose so poorly? One reason is that they lack in balanced information about their candidates and leaders. In Latin America the press is frequently afraid of reporting negative material about powerful people running for office (for good reason, since scores of honest reporters have been and continue to be killed while investigating wrongdoing).
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