Domingo, 23 de octubre de 2016

| 2009/10/27 00:00

Knowing when to leave in Latin America

Oct 27--Leaders who circumvent term limits undermine the region's democratic progress.

Knowing when to leave in Latin America

As Latin America's military dictatorships fell one by one in the late 20th century, incipient democracies across the region sought to stamp out caudillo caudillo culture with constitutions that limited their newly elected leaders to one term in office. No more strongmen ruling in perpetuity. So powerful was the no-reelection sentiment that the Honduran Constitution even included a clause saying that its single, four-year presidential term limit could not be amended in the future.

But as democracies took root and civilian governments tried to implement ambitious economic and political reforms, they began to feel constrained by term limits. Soon,elected leaders from right to left sought to extend their mandates. Driven by ego and arrogance as well as ideology, some pursued the changes legitimately through the legislature. At least that was the case when the leaders of Peru, Argentina and Brazil sought second terms in the 1990s.

Problems arose, however, when Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori and Argentine President Carlos Menem still weren't satisfied and, despite charges of corruption, sought third terms. Other leaders went even further, using and abusing the tools of democracy to eliminate term limits altogether. That would include Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who lost one referendum to extend his term before winning passage of a second in February, and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, whose allies on the Supreme Court lifted a ban on reelection last week, raising fears that Nicaragua might return to the kind of entrenched power that Ortega took up arms to defeat in 1979.
Read more here.
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