THE BLOG

Nationalists and Liberals in Honduras Are Equally Clueless

ASSOCIATED PRESS

An economic team within the presidential transition committee appointed by President-elect Juan Orlando Hernández to ensure a smooth transfer of power from the Lobo administration to the Hernández administration on Monday, blamed the Liberal government of President Manuel Zelaya (2006-2009) for Honduras' current financial problems. It stated, "The irresponsibility and poor administration by the government of ex-President Manuel Zelaya generated a financial imbalance and an economic disaster of such magnitude that it continues to be a fiscal snowball."

The report by the team, consisting of members of the National Party, outlines the casual overspending by the Zelaya government and how it racked up so much wasteful debt instead of investing in development programs to improve production and stimulate the economy.

The team essentially does what Mr. Hernández has been doing for many months, which is to attribute all of the country's economic problems to Mr. Zelaya. Unsurprisingly, the team's report mentions nothing about President Lobo and his government during the past four years. It's as if the Lobo administration never even existed.

All the hundreds of millions of dollars wasted through unspeakable bureaucratic ineptitude and corruption during the past four years? No mention of that. All those tens of millions of dollars given away under the so-called "Bono 10,000" welfare program (aimed officially at helping the extreme poor, but in reality geared toward buying the political support of the masses) during the past four years? No mention of that. All those tens of millions of dollars wasted through countless questionable trips abroad by President Lobo and his family and sizable staff during the past four years? No mention of that. The countless hundreds of millions of dollars lost due to lost productivity as a result of endless strikes by unpaid, frustrated and angry public employees. Nada.

The level of partisan bias and blatant disregard for any sense of reasonable balance in the report is so extreme that it is... well, worthless, laughable. Four years under a Nationalist-led government have passed, and the Nationalists are still blaming Mr. Zelaya for Honduras' entire economic mess. Really? Do Mr. Hernández and his incoming team lack any ability at self-reflection? Not even the faintest willingness to admit the tiniest mea culpas?

It is understandable and acceptable for a new presidential administration to criticize its predecessor for the problems it created or left unsolved. It is illogical and utterly unacceptable, however, for a new administration to absolve its predecessor for the disorder and conflict it leaves, and instead blame its predecessor's predecessor.

Sadly, the Liberal Party is guilty of a similar tendency. On Monday, former Liberal presidential candidate Mauricio Villeda assigned responsibility for just about everything bad that has happened in Honduras of late to Mr. Lobo and Mr. Hernández, and by extension, the entire National Party. Mr. Villeda pointed out that for the past 12 years, Mr. Lobo and Mr. Hernández have been a key team in Honduran politics, starting out when Mr. Lobo was the president of the National Congress and Mr. Hernández served as congressional secretary, and then subsequently when Mr. Lobo was President of Honduras and Mr. Hernández took on the role as president of the Congress.

"The responsibility for everything that has happened in the country is their fault," said Mr. Villeda. "It is a joint responsibility."

Uh, no. A little balance, some self-reflection, a few mea culpas... pretty please. Three-and-a-half horrendous years of amateurish Liberal rule under Mr. Zelaya? And remember, as bad as Mr. Zelaya was, he wasn't a one-man show: He had a large supporting cast of Liberal characters. It was under Liberal rule that public spending started to get out of control again, national budgets failed to be submitted and passed, and the Central Bank was sacked. It was under the Liberals that illegal drug trafficking and the homicide rates started to spike upward. Oh, and then there was that little matter of... the coup. That was also a Liberal deed. Ignoring or minimizing the impact of an overthrow of a democratically-elected president? Ludicrous.

The simple truth is that both the Nationalists and the Liberals have dug the deep hole Honduras is in right now. They are equally to blame -- which explains why 45 percent of the people who voted in the general elections on November 24 did not vote for Mr. Hernández or Mr. Villeda. The two-party monopoly has been broken in Honduras, and the reason is because both the Nationalists and the Liberals have long been clueless about how to lift the country out of its endless apathy, poverty, corruption, violence and bad governance.