January 27, 2014

Democracy



“To view the opposition as dangerous is to misunderstand the basic concepts of democracy. To oppress the opposition is to assault the very foundation of democracy.” — Aung San Suu Kyi

“I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” — James Madison, US President (1809-1817)

"Nothing can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws, or worse, its disregard of the charter of its own existence" — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear." — Harry S. Truman, US President (1945-1953)

“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.” — Theodore Roosevelt, US President (1901-1909)


"The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections." — Lord Acton

“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” — Benjamin Franklin

My thoughts

From my viewpoint, an awful lot of people are losing sight of the true meaning of democracy and instead are siding with the use of the very sort authoritarian and undemocratic actions that they claimed to be protecting the country from in 2009.

It's particularly sad and hypocritical that so much of the media is supporting the right of the Nacionalistas to suppress the opposition's right to speak. In recent years, both Liberal and Nacionalista governments have threatened freedom of speech in the media several times.

"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." –Voltaire

"Puede ser que a alguien no le guste la izquierda o la derecha, pero si es demócrata debe defender su existencia" –Piedad Córdoba Ruiz

How many times in history has someone said that it's okay to be authoritarian for the greater good? How many times was it for the greater good?

If you understand Spanish, please watch these video interviews (December 2013) with an open mind. Liberal Diputado Dario Banegas, who I respect greatly, discusses the dictatorial nature and intolerance of Mauricio Oliva who was presiding over the old congress. Banegas and PINU Diputado Mario Rivera also discussed their concern over the mass of laws passed after the election which put too much power in the presidency. Banegas said that JOH spent four years passing laws consolidating power in the congress and then, during the last month (after his election), managed to get a boatload of laws passed that move that power to the presidency.

These two men were the only diputados that I saw in many sessions of Congress in December and January who spoke out against the railroading of laws through without analysis and discussion or even the ability to read the law before it was passed. In this video, both warn of the consolidation of powers in the presidency and the weakening of the powers of the congress. This, in my opinion, is something to be concerned about.

From my last article: Ironically, what Nacionalistas have accomplished in the past four years is not terribly dissimilar to what they and Liberales were warning about in 2009 – consolidating money and power in the executive branch, weakening the judiciary and congress, and trying to debilitate the power of the media. This is something to be feared no matter which party is doing it.

It's just a fact that a large portion of the Honduran population do not believe that they are represented by the traditional parties – even among those who vote for them. In fact, thinking back, I can't remember anyone I know ever telling me that they felt represented by their congressmen. For many years, the only way people believed they could be "heard" was by protesting in the streets or in front of government buildings.

Now Honduras has two new parties who were able to obtain 39% of the congress in their first election. That is a major accomplishment. Just imagine how those voters feel to see that they still have no representation in congress because the traditional parties won't allow them to participate.

That has to change.


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