The return of Manuel Zelaya to a wary Honduras
Deposed president seeks return through wife’s ‘candidacy’
When the world last heard from Honduras in 2009, the country had sparked a regional crisis after deposing its president, Manuel Zelaya, for his repeated illegal attempts to rewrite the Honduran Constitution as his amigo, the now-deceased autocrat Hugo Chavez, had done in Venezuela. Despite the fact that the Law Library of the U.S. Congress later found the process to be constitutional, the Obama administration joined Chavez and other radical regimes in branding Mr. Zelaya’s removal a “military coup” and unleashed punitive sanctions on one of the region’s poorest countries.
Honduras survived that assault, but not before enduring such affronts to its sovereignty as Mr. Zelaya buzzing the airport in Tegucigalpa on a plane with Organization of American States Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza after being denied landing rights, and then Mr. Zelaya sneaking back into the country and finding refuge in the Brazilian Embassy, where he lined his room with tinfoil because he said Israeli agents were beaming microwaves at him.
Incredibly, Mr. Zelaya is poised to return to power in Honduras next month in the person of his wife, Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, a candidate in presidential elections to be held Nov. 24. Ms. Castro, who has never held elected office, currently leads the polls in a three-way race, although with just under 30 percent support.
That Manuel Zelaya is anywhere near the halls of power in Honduras today reflects the degree to which the country has bent over backwards to placate misguided international opinion. It may result in not only a national disaster, but a regional one as well — with significant implications for U.S. security interests. For starters, Ms. Castro has campaigned on a platform of “refounding” the country along the lines of other radical populist regimes in the region. This includes rewriting the Honduran Constitution — the very issue that led to her husband’s impeachment — which, in the other countries has meant centralizing power in the executive, gutting checks and balances and turning more of the economy over to the state at the expense of the private sector.
If the effort to transform the Honduran state along chavista lines didn’t work the first time, it is unlikely to work again — and will only lead to another round of confrontation, recrimination and polarization that defined her husband’s tenure.
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