Right is expected to regain power in Honduras

The coup last summer in this tiny, Central American country exploded into an international incident, with thousands of Hondurans taking to the streets while everyone from Barack Obama to Fidel Castro lined up behind ousted President Manuel Zelaya.

 President Manuel ZelayaNow, with Zelaya still holed up in the Brazilian Embassy, voters will choose a new president this Sunday from the political establishment that has dominated Honduras for decades. No one is pushing the leftist agenda of the ousted leader, who said he was trying to lift a country where seven in 10 people are poor.

“It’s a risk-averse culture,” said Manuel Orozco, a Central America expert with the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue.

The months of turmoil as Zelaya pressed for his reinstatement, the negotiation and U.S. shuttle diplomacy are about to be overtaken by business as usual – Honduran style.

Even many of the poor who supported Zelaya as he aligned himself with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Latin America’s new left say they will vote for conservative front-runner Porfirio Lobo, a 61-year-old wealthy businessman who is ahead by double digits in the polls.

“I will vote for the one who can fix this and give us work right now, because those suffering are the poor,” said Reina Gomez, 53, a single mother who washes clothes for a living and who supported Zelaya in 2005.

Zelaya was prohibited by the constitution from running for more than one term – even before the military whisked him out of the country at gunpoint in the June 28 coup. His opponents said he wanted to follow in Chavez’s footsteps and revise the constitution to extend his time in office. Zelaya denies any such intention.

Honduras has always been run by a handful of families who control the news media, economy and every power sphere from the military to the Supreme Court. It remains one of the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nations, where gaunt workers in torn shoes survive on $250 a month.

Exit mobile version