The monument to the FSLN at the entrance to the town of Granada, Nicaragua. The Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional is the name of an officially registered political party and also a name associated with a historic social movement. A problem occurs when these two phenomena get blended together. During the presidencies of Violeta, Alemán, and Bolaños the FSLN campaigned as a legitimate opposition political party, but since Daniel Ortega has been the elected President, the FSLN is trying to come across more as a social movement. "El pueblo/Unido/¡Jamás será vencido!" goes the official chant. "The people united shall never be defeated." Was the illusion that the entire population of Nicaragua might indeed be of one spirit, sharing a single collectivist point of view, the reason the municipal government felt justified in using public funds to erect this monument? Does the landmark celebrate the deposition of a military dictatorship in 1979 by a majority population, or the consolidation of power by a politician that won the presidency with only 38 percent of the popular vote and who has since that time become increasingly unpopular?
If a Republican or Democratic politician in office in the US had used public funds in order to put up a monument to his own party ... well, I would have sculpted the guy's grip on the AK-47 a little differently, but nevermind ... there probably would have been some controversy, but not here. Life goes on, and you'd never know anyone had a problem with it until you get into a taxi.
Democracy doesn't work the same here in Central America as it does in the States. When I think of the troubles that Honduras is going through right now, and how the situation is being presented, I get really confused. What I understand is that Mel Zelaya acted in flagrant violation of the orders of the Honduran Supreme Court, pulled a B & E, and proceeded to go ahead with preparations for the “cuarta urna” so he could rewrite the constitution. He didn’t say specifically that he wanted to rewrite Article 239, which states that any president who attempts to change this particular article about the presidential term of office automatically and immediately ceases to be president. Nevertheless, the congress and the Court assumed this to be his agenda because of his association with Hugo Chavez, who did precisely that in Venezuela. They weren’t going to risk the suspension of elections in November by allowing this “cuarta urna” which was being accompanied by thugs. The famed Honduran human rights activist Ramón Custodio had advised citizens earlier to abstain from voting on June 28 for their own safety. So the Court ordered the military to remove Zelaya from office and put him on a plane for Costa Rica. Now the argument is not whether or not Mel Zelaya violated the constitution (he violated an order of the Supreme Court, and oversaw a break-in, which are wanton criminal acts), but whether the Court and the military did so by removing him thusly from office. The answer to that could be yes, not only because there is no proof that Zelaya aimed to change article 239, but also because the constitution neglects to mention how to enforce the immediate cessation of his presidency. Due process cannot by nature be immediate. So maybe the constitution does need a little more work after all.
Regarding the scheduled elections in November, with all presidential candidates having been selected by the normal primary process during the course of Mel Zelaya's time in office, you might wonder, in practical terms, what difference it would make whether or not Mel is returned to office for a month and a half with diminished powers. Either the Liberal or the National Party candidate will win, and neither will continue in the direction of Mel’s policies; they both just want the election to count if they do come out victorious. The international community demands that Mel be reinstated for the results of these elections to be recognized. Mel himself demands it, but de facto government has not been willing to let that happen. In the end, fear and outrage are the driving forces; the great fear that people in power can get away with messing with the rules, and outrage because they have done it time and time again, yet when they get caught red handed, they never get punished. In Central America these emotions are sometimes suppressed and compacted into a little container that resembles complacency until someone pokes it a little too hard. When that happens, however, things get a little difficult.