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 An online magazine about investing, living, working and relocating to the Caribbean.
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When a “Coup” Isn’t a Coup


When interviewing natives and expats alike in the Republic of Honduras, one overriding sentiment resonates above all others. And, in fact, it seems to have ensconced itself into the thinking of countless numbers of stateside US citizens who may once have thought of visiting, investing, or, perhaps, even resettling in this beautiful, bountiful little country.

In essence: The Republic’s reputation was horribly damaged by the so-called “coup” (so-called by Manuel Zelaya, Hugo Chavez, Barack Obama, and others who were zealously intent upon establishing a Marxist dictatorship in this pivotal country).

Construction in Honduras has dropped by more than 30% over the past year. Tourism (upon which average, everyday Hondurans depend for their livelihoods) has plummeted. And US aid – well-warranted in the case of Honduras, long America’s most reliable democratic ally in Latin America. – has been severely hampered by the Obama Administration. All of this, most agree, is direct result of the US-led effort to portray the impeachment of Zelaya as a “military coup” and force the Republic to put the disgraced would-be despot back into power.

What makes the continued assault on Honduras particularly damaging – as well as unfair, according to the majority of geo-political analysts -- is that the people of the country were strictly adhering to their own Constitution when, by congressional and court order, they removed Zelaya from power.  Zelaya had defiantly attempted to violate one of only three un-amendable provisions in the Honduran Constitution: the provision limiting the president to one term.

When warned repeatedly – even by his own attorney general and those leading his own party’s congressional majority – that he was risking impeachment, Zelaya teamed up with Chavez to thwart attempts to rein him in. When it then became clear that he intended to conduct an illegal referendum – even at the risk of instigating civil unrest -- and that he had gone so far as to have Chavez print the ballots, impeachment proceedings were undertaken. All by the book.

And how did average Hondurans respond to the impeachment of Zelaya and the preservation of democratic rule? Below is a commentary written by Rodrigo Cantero, one of the country’s leading young realtors, shortly after the popular election that brought in the party opposed to Zelaya. It was published broadly in the US, and with more than 60% of Hondurans supporting the newly elected president, his comments are clearly not isolated.

“Yesterday we had our most important date with destiny.  And Honduras won!

“We fought our most important battle without firing a shot.  We let the ballots be our bullets, just like the fathers of democracy intended. We went against 21st Century Socialism and won. 

“We went against Chavez and won.  We went against a would-be-dictator and won.  We went against Barack Obama and the "International Community" and won.  At the end of the day 62% of the eligible voters stood together against the world (with the exception of friends like Panama, Taiwan, and Colombia), for we have never felt alone, we have always felt like one country, one family.
Honduras
“Tiny, little, poor Honduras just keeps giving the world free lessons on democracy.  The most unlikely of nations, the most unlikely of heroes, have unmasked the world and its leaders for what they really are: hypocrites.

“Leaders from around the globe,  stood tall and looked down on Hondurans, thinking we belong in the dark ages, thinking we have no rule of law. They judged Honduras and our Constitution without knowing our country or our laws.  They defended a person above a country.

“They neglected to see that the biggest threat to democracy are so called democrats, who win an election and then turn on the government institutions that helped them get to where they are. They eat away at the institutions independence from within.  They desire a stronger presidential role; they despise the idea of power sharing or the idea of balance of power. 

“Time and time again we have seen "democrats" like Hugo Chavez, like Evo Morales, like Rafael Correa and now Daniel Ortega trying to turn their countries into their own private ranches, and we have seen the International Community stand by and just applaud rigged election after rigged election.

“Yesterday there were big losers, but they were not the opposing candidates. The big losers were: Manuel Zelaya, Hugo Chavez and Jose Miguel Insulza, Lula, Kirchner – and, yes, Barack Obama. These "democrats" tried and tried again to dismiss our elections.  They tried to take away our right to vote, our right to choose. They could not break the will of our country.  They could not break the spirit of our people.  They could not turn us away from elections.

“Yesterday was a very proud day, and I have never been prouder of my country or our citizens.”

One of the most respected members of the US Congress, Florida’s Connie Mack, echoed Cantero’s views, writing in the popular American newspaper Human Events;

“Honduras, rejected the Chavista vitriol and embraced freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. This should have been seen as a win for freedom over tyranny. But instead, President Obama and his administration condemned the Honduran people and stood with a “who’s who” list of tyrants and thugs of Latin America.

“The people of Honduras will continue to stand tall … I urge Hondurans to show President Obama, Brazil, Venezuela and especially the OAS that democracy is not a political tool, but a cherished value that must be closely protected and defended at all costs. And I urge the American people to continue to stand with the people of Honduras as they seek freedom, security and prosperity for their country and for Latin America.”

So, where does that now leave Honduras? Politically, most analysts agree, it leaves the tiny country right where it was before the Zelaya impeachment: as arguably the strongest democracy in Latin America. The country has never had a violent civil war. It has been a constitutional republic since 1982, with free democratic elections. It has five freely functioning political parties. And in recent years, the people have elected five Liberal presidents and three Nationalists, including the current president, Porfiro Lobo.

Economically, the country is beginning to recover from the US-led economic assault. Construction in the major cities – Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, and Puerto Cortes – is showing signs of renewing its previous vigor. Tourism in popular areas like the Bay Islands and La Ceiba (the “Tourism Capital of Honduras”) is starting to return. And realtors on Roatan Island, always a bell cow, are confirming a recent uptick in sales.

As to the long-term effects of the “coup” that wasn’t a coup, one Trujillo developer recently explained, “We believe the American people are fair-minded. Once they realize that the people of Honduras value their democracy as much as do the people of the United States, they will re-embrace our country. And Honduras will be back on track to becoming the next Costa Rica, or Panama.”

Time, of course, will tell.

Please give me your feedback on the new Caribbean Retirement Pages at, on my Twitter account: @caribcarter. And don’t forget to sign up for your special “CaribAlerts” emails keeping you up to date on breaking events and opportunities throughout the month. I look forward to hearing from you.
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