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Disconcerting military come back in Latin America

Latin America has been turning away from military rule. In fact, it is on a path towards participatory and pro-poor democracy in a majority of countries. The age of military rule by dictators trained in the infamous School of America and buttressed by Washington seemed long past.

President Manuel Zolaya. AFP

The change was so strong that some started even talking of a continental shift to the Left. However, news that came over the wire services on Sunday was disconcerting. The Honduran army has forcibly taken Manuel Zolaya, the constitutionally elected President prisoner and interned him in an Air Force camp before being sent to Costa Rica.

It is clear that forces opposed to a non-binding referendum being held last Sunday to decide whether the Constitution should be amended or not are responsible for the ouster.

The beginning

Powerful forces among the elite classes and their agents in key positions in legislative and judicial arms of the State as well as media groups aligned with them are behind the conspiracy. The trouble started with the President removing the Army Chief for refusing to facilitate the Referendum. The referendum was aimed at obtaining popular support to carry forward the pro-poor policies. Naturally it earned the wrath of conservative forces including that of President's own party.

The President was elected at the Presidential Election in November 2005 in a close contest and was instituted in office in February 2006. His term extends to early 2010. The State television station has been closed by the military and it only managed to call the people to oppose the coup minutes before closing. All other media have kept mum on the developments and people are kept in the dark about the developments.

Meanwhile President Manuel Zolaya in a telephone message from Costa Rica have stated that he has not resigned and that he intends to attend the speedily summoned meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) that would discuss the situation in Honduras.

"Clear, decisive and sharp"

The OAS as well as the European Union has condemned the coup. The President of the United Nation Nations General Assembly Miguel D'Escoto has condemned the coup in a "clear, decisive and sharp" manner. "The situation is worrying because unfortunately in Latin America we still recall the sound of sabres in the barracks," he told the media.

People have come on to the streets in Honduras calling for the reinstatement of the President and are confronting the Army which has barricaded the President's House.

New path

The map of Honduras. Picture - Internet

The next few days will show whether the people of Honduras could have their say and continue on the new path of development initiated by President Zolaya or whether the reactionary forces would gain the upper hand and drag Honduras down a dark age of despotism again.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has openly accused the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of planning and supporting the coup. He has called upon President Obama to condemn the coup.

The latter has made a statement which falls short of condemnation but it calls upon all parties concerned to settle the issues by discussions.

The world has changed much since the 1970s and 800's when dictatorships ruled sway in Latin America. Whether the Honduran development could go back to those dark days is a question that worries the democrats the world over.

A progressive liberal

Zelaya is not a blood red Communist but a progressive liberal. He was elected in a three cornered contest. At the time of election he was labeled as a Centre Right by the Western media though now he is labeled a Leftist.

It is the compulsions of office that made him move towards a pro-poor pokies. Honduras remains the Second poorest country in Latin America.


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