Latin democracy deserves more attention from U.S.

Democracy in the Americas appears to be receiving an important shot in the arm from the people of Peru. Their fury over a political scandal has led President Alberto Fujimori to promise that he will call new elections and leave office afterward.

Considering that Fujimori is serving only as the result of stealing votes and bribing members of Congress, his exit cannot come soon enough.

Properly, the United States helped lead other American nations in condemning the scandal as it evolved in recent days and has welcomed Fujimori’s announcement that he will call new elections. Unfortunately, Fujimori’s troubles are the first reversal of a troubling trend toward authoritarian rule in several Latin countries that the Clinton administration has let develop without displaying any dynamic leadership.

Fujimori, who had grown increasingly authoritarian, apparently intends to have the elections take place in March. Public opinion polls show that most Peruvians would like the voting to take place within six months, if not sooner. There is speculation that Fujimori and the current Congress might stay in office until late July. The extended timetable gives reason for worry about more political trickery.

Both the president and the congressional majority have blatantly subverted democracy. The current scandal arose after a TV station showed videotape of Fujimori’s top aide paying a bribe to a member of Congress who switched parties to help the president’s party obtain a congressional majority. It is not out of the question that such an unscrupulous president or the military might try to block a transfer of power to a newly elected government.

Dictatorships, with the exception of Cuba, have virtually disappeared from Latin America, but the situation remains perilous in a number of countries. In Venezuela, left-wing President Hugo Chavez, an admirer of Fidel Castro, often appears to be traveling on the same slow boat to authoritarianism that Fujimori, a rightist, used in Peru. In Ecuador, the current president was installed by Congress after a military coup overthrew the elected president.

Many of the gains for democracy in the Americas came during the 1980s, inspired at least in part by former President Ronald Reagan’s rhetoric. Despite some recent bright spots for Latin America, most notably the election of opposition candidate Vicente Fox as president of Mexico, the Clinton administration has devoted too little attention to nurturing democracy in the rest of the hemisphere, except in moments of crisis.

Recently, President Clinton has focused much of his Latin American attention on Colombia, where he and our Congress have joined hands to spend more than a billion dollars on an ill-conceived military aid operation aimed, more or less, at drug trafficking. Latin America and its people need and deserve more positive, sustained attention from the next administration.

SELECT *

FROM Talkback

WHERE Story LIKE ‘../Stories/00/9/20/12979216.cfm’

AND Dateverified LIKE ‘verified’

ORDER BY Dateposted

Talk back

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Opinion

toon
Editorial cartoons for Tuesday, June 18

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

EMBARGO: No electronic distribution, Web posting or street sales before WEDNESDAY 3:01 A.M. ET, Feb. 28, 2024. No exceptions for any reasons. EMBARGO set by source. FILE — An AR-15 style firearm at Clark Brothers Gun Shop in Warrenton, Va., Feb. 25, 2018. The Supreme Court will soon hear arguments about a bump stock ban, a Trump administration rule put in place after the Las Vegas massacre. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)
Editorial: U.S. Supreme Court ‘ducks’ reason on bump stocks

The majority defies common sense and ignores potential violence to rule against a regulatory agency.

Paul: Warning on social media helps, but much more necessary

We know the harms social media causes children; Congress should take steps to better regulate it.

Goldberg: Trump movie not coming soon to a theater near you

A movie about Trump and his lawyer, Roy Cohn, can’t find a U.S. distributor. Take a guess why.

toon
Editorial cartoons for Monday, June 17

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Father's Day is a holiday of honouring fatherhood and paternal bonds, as well as the influence of fathers in society.
Editorial: Men, boys could use a little help to be better men

The work of fathers could be aided by a state commission focused on the issues of boys and men.

Trump speaks like a dictator; is that what we want?

Trump supporters had better start thinking seriously about life under dictatorship. The… Continue reading

Herald’s coverage of Pride events is appreciated

Thank you to Aina de Lapparent Alvarez for the informative, well-written article… Continue reading

President Biden will wait until after election to pardon son

Sleepy Joe Biden will pardon his son, after he is reelected. But… Continue reading

Comment: Ruling on abortion pill access may be short-lived

Despite a unanimous decision upholding access to mifepristone, it left open avenues for challenge.

The City of Everett is set to purchase two single sidewalk restrooms from Romtec, a company based in Roseburg, Ore., for $315,000. (Romtec)
Editorial: Utilitarian but sturdy restrooms should be a relief

Everett is placing four stalls downtown that should be accessible but less prone to problems.

Artist Natalie Niblack works amongst her project entitled “33 Birds / Three Degrees” during the setup for Exploring The Edge at Schack Art Center on Sunday, March 19, 2023, in Everett, Washington. The paintings feature motion-activated speakers that play each bird’s unique call. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Editorial: For 50 years Schack Art Center there for creation

The art center is more art studio than museum, supporting artists and fostering creativity in kids.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.