Feature

Latin America: The curious epidemic of ‘re-electionitis’

President Manuel Zelaya claims he had no plans to run again, but the Honduran people can be forgiven for suspecting him, since the mania for staying in power “seems to be contagious” across our region, said Jorge Ramos &#038

Jorge Ramos Ávalos
Reforma (Mexico)

The recent coup in Honduras was a heavy-handed attempt to ward off the dreaded Latin American disease I call “re-electionitis,” said Jorge Ramos Ávalos. The Honduran military stepped in last week and deposed President Manuel Zelaya because he was allegedly planning an illegal referendum to amend the constitution, so he could run for a second term as president. Zelaya claims he had no plans to run again, but the Honduran people can be forgiven for suspecting him, since the mania for staying in power “seems to be contagious” across our region.

Cuba’s Fidel Castro had it for a long time, and transmitted it to his brother Raúl. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez caught it, staying on for a second term after he promised only one, and changing his country’s constitution to allow him to run yet again. That tactic has become epidemic. Both Ecuador’s Rafael Correa and Bolivia’s Evo Morales changed their nations’ constitutions to allow them to remain in power, and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega and Colombia’s Álvaro Uribe are considering doing the same.

Latin America has seen decades of dictatorships and coups, and democracy here is still frail. Let’s hope it won’t be killed off by this new, pernicious virus.

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