These are tense,
dangerous times in Latin America. As the political crisis in Honduras
inches worryingly close to civil war, the region’s more sensible
leaders are struggling to keep the peace. Meanwhile, Alvaro Uribe is
handling the situation catastrophically.
The Colombian president is
hanging out with the wrong crowd, adding fuel to the burning political
fire and showing more signs of his indifference to democracy.
recent coup in Honduras is Latin America’s worst political crisis in
recent memory. The country is inching closer to a civil war that would
greatly exacerbate existing ideological tensions throughout the region.
Luckily, the Latin American leaders seem to have put aside their
political differences and rallied in defense of democracy. Immediately
after the coup, almost every government in the Western Hemisphere,
including Colombia’s, adamantly condemned the coup in a display of
unity that effectively neutralized Hugo Chavez’s polarizing rhetoric.
however, Uribe’s public position on the Honduras crisis seems to have
been all talk. The president irresponsibly met with members of Roberto Micheletti’s government and, according to Honduran sources, expressed sympathy for the golpista regime.
as it seems, the Honduran regime is telling the truth about the
meeting, Uribe is clearly on the wrong side of the crisis. That is not
to say that he should be allying with the undemocratic Manuel Zelaya.
On the other hand, he should definitely not express sympathy for the
only blatantly undemocratic government in the Western hemisphere. He
should instead take the same position as nearly every regional
government: strong support for a peaceful, democratic resolution to the
The President’s meeting endangers such a solution by carelessly involving himself in an already delicate situation.
While he was quick to denounce Hugo Chavez for ‘interfering’ with
Colombia’s US base deal, he had no problem interfering in a crisis
that, at any moment, could lead to war. So far, regional leaders have avoiding turning the crisis into a regional ideological struggle. Uribe’s meeting with the right-wing Micheletti only adds ideological fire to a ticking time bomb.
Finally, the meeting is also further proof of Uribe’s indifference to democratic values and institutions. Micheletti
is a global pariah who has raised fears that the post-Cold War
solidification of Latin American democracies may end. Meeting with him
was quite a dangerous thing for Uribe to
do in the current international political climate. The President’s
support in the US and Europe is increasingly fragile, in part because
of his autocratic tendencies. Politically, reaching out to Micheletti was just about the most illogical thing he could have done in response to the crisis in Honduras.
There was absolutely no need – political, ethical or otherwise – for the Colombian government to speak privately to the Micheletti
regime. It could be argued that the current tensions with neighboring
Colombia and Venezuela have made Colombia desperate for political
allies. Nevertheless, there is little to be gained from an alliance
with the poor, weak and totally isolated Honduran government. Honduras is not the type of friend Colombia should be making.
Strategically, the Uribe government is playing with fire on the international stage. The President should cut off all public and private ties to the Micheletti government and confirm to the international community that he is indeed respectful of democracy.
Ethically, Uribe has made a huge mistake. Micheletti does not deserve international supporters. Coups should remain a thing of the past, and no golpista regime should have the privilege of explicit or implicit official recognition by another government.
most importantly, Uribe has risked making a political solution to the
Honduras crisis even more unlikely. The meeting was a step toward
turning the Central American problem a regional ideological battle between the Chavista coalition and right-leaning governments like Uribe’s and that is the last thing Honduras and Latin America need.