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   The Latin American Initiative


Annual Conference

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Honduras Conference 1

ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2009:
THE HONDURAS CRISIS

The current crisis in Honduras, whereby an elected president was ousted from power under military pressure after allegedly pledging the Honduras people his intent in modifying the country's constitution in order to be reelected, is a vivid testimony of the frailty of democratic institutions in Latin America. It reveals to what extent controversies involving the executive branch's decision-making on delicate issues can create conditions for political upheaval including outright political crises such as the clash of institutional powers or military intervention. At the same time it shows the inability of the Inter- American system to cope with political crises before they reach boiling point.

It is no secret that under the surface of a more democratic continent, Latin America is deeply polarized. On one side such countries as Brazil, Chile, and Mexico which at one point experienced authoritarian rule, are now some of the strongest democracies in the region. On the other side, countries like Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador in one way or another are currently experiencing the erosion of important tenets of democracy, such as free press, power alternation, and the independence of the legislature and judiciary from the president. The Honduras crisis, though mainly understood as a military backlash from the past, points to this important fracture that has even affected the Organization of American States' capacity to handle events of this sort. This continental fracture could in the future lead to improbable events such as regime collapse in Central America, deepening the impact of other external forces such as the narcotics industry. Unfortunately this industry has already set a beachhead in this part of the Americas as a consequence of the expansion of Mexico's increasingly powerful drug cartels.

Honduras Conference 2

ADDRESSING THE ISSUES IN THE HONDURAS CRISIS

The Carr Center, in collaboration with the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS) at Harvard, will be pursuing a one day conference to explore in greater depth the nature and implications of the crisis in Honduras. The idea is to explore the different angles of the events in the country, looking at the Central American historical context in which democratization took place, examining the impending constitutional crisis that resulted from a clash of internal powers, analyzing what international forces (Latin American countries, the US, OAS, mediators) were at play and what was their response to the crisis. Finally, the implications of the current crisis in terms of the confrontation of forces alluded earlier on how democracy is exercised throughout the continent.

Because it is so recent, the Honduras case involves preliminary exploration in order to clarify main themes that subsequently may involve substantial additional research and analysis. The Conference is intended as a first step in breaking ground about issues and trends that are wider in scope and cover the entire region. Resulting from the presentations and discussion we expect a number of conclusions that will serve to orient future research and dialogue with policy-making agencies both in the US and in the Inter American system. We also plan on writing a conference report to account for the presentations and discussions.

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