The political crisis that has gripped Honduras for the last five months will hopefully be over after elections on Sunday handed the Presidency to conservative rancher Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo. Lobo received 56% of the vote, well ahead of the nearest challenger at 38%, and turnout was exceptionally high as 61% of eligible Hondurans voted. The numbers bolster the credibility of the electoral outcome and should persuade most Western democracies to accept the result.
Interestingly, the high turnout is a direct repudiation of ousted President Manuel Zelaya, who had urged supporters to stay home in protest. The United States has already accepted the winner, along with Costa Rica and Panama, and Mexico and Canada seem likely to approve as well. Brazil and Argentina, however, are still providing opposition that will prove tricky to resolve for both the incoming President and the US State Department.
The source of the opposition to Lobo’s victory is one that evades me on logic. No matter what your stance on Zelaya’s ouster – and it’s my opinion that Honduras was well within their rights to get rid of him and that the Obama administration was incorrect to continue to back him – the simple fact of the matter is that even if Zelaya was still in power, he would be unable to run in this 2009 election due to constitutional term limits – term limits, by the way, that Zelaya was trying to roll back and got him into trouble with the Honduran legislature, Supreme Court, and military.
I’ve been writing about the struggles of Honduras for a while now, so I feel a certain personal connection to this story, and I’m heartened to see this nasty chapter in its history come to a hopeful close. With the support of America and probably Mexico, the rest of the world governments should make the right decision and recognize the legitimacy of these elections, allowing Honduras to move past the ugliness of the last few months. In a Latin American geopolitical situation that includes Zelaya’s buddies Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega, future unpleasantness can never be completely ruled out, but it’s my fervent wish that the people of Honduras can finally get back to their lives without this pointless drama being played out in front of the rest of the world.
Congratulations, President-elect Lobo. I wish you the best of luck.