Military Coups and banana republics

on Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Banana Republic, the term was first introduced by Honduras, a small democratic republic in the Central America. Banana republic is a term used for countries that are politically unstable and depend on limited agriculture. Honduras is facing an ongoing political crisis. The President of Honuras was ousted by military from his official residence. Latin America left behind military coups long back which is a big accomplishment. But that doesn’t give the democratic government a blank cheque guarantee to last. There are times when governments just fall apart but the dispute can be resolved by some ways and means. But presidential system in Latin America is a rigid one ans so messiness ensues. This decade alone has witnessed many coups which were rather ’soft coups’. There was this coup against the president of Venezuela in 2002. But the international community including Washington, unanimously condemned the coup.

This coup in Honduras was a harsh one. Eight cabinet members were arrested and a new president was appointed on the same day as ouster of Mr. Zelaya, former president, Honduras. The political crisis that Honduras is in the midst of was triggered by Mr. Zelaya himself. He called for a referendum to make changes to the constitution and the idea was not supported by the army chief which resulted in president sacking him up. Supreme Court also called it unconstitutional.

Mr. Zelaya had the vision to visit Cuba and strengthen ties with Venezuela and have Honduras joined ALBA. This is why president Chavez of Venezuela has deplored the coup. If a political crisis was stirring in Honduras democracy some solution should have been found through a compromise between the government and the opposition.

President Lula of Brazil says they would not acknowledge any Honduran president except Mr. Zelaya. Chile is taking the same line as Brazil. Various International political cooperation mechanisms like the Rio group, the South American Community of Nations have come forward to denounce the coup. President Barack Obama has also condemned it. Honduras is a part of Central American Market and if it is excluded from it, its products would have a hard time competing in US markets.

If Mr. Zelaya gets back in his office, as a result of international pressure, it would show a new measure of hemispheric cooperation and committment of the community towards democratic stability and continuity. However, if the coup in Honduras is not reverted back, the political progress seen in this region will be undone.