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 Monday, July 22

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

Scott Spahr, Generation Engineering Manager at Snohomish County PUD, points to a dial indicating 4 megawatts of power production from one of two Francis turbine units at the Henry M. Jackson Powerhouse on Friday, Feb. 17, 2023, near Sultan, Washington. Some of the water that passes through units 3 and 4 — the two Francis turbines — is diverted to Lake Chaplain, which supplies water to Everett. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Editorial: Amber King best suited for PUD’s 2nd District seat

Among three solid candidates, King’s knowledge of utilities and contracts will serve ratepayers well.

Brooks: Democrats must provide an answer to MAGA’s promises

For Democrats to succeed, they need to offer people a future of both security and progress.

Krugman: For Trump, once again, it’s carnage in America

Ignoring the clear decline in crime rates for much of the country, Trump basks in thoughts of mayhem.

Krugman: It’s not just Trump that J.D. Vance has flipped on

The GOP’s vice presidential nominee has shifted position on the white working-class folks he came from.

Comment: Blaming media a poor repsonse to political violence

Conspiracy and violent rhetoric holds no specific party identification but seeks only to distract.

Former President Donald Trump, the presumed Republican presidential nominee, speaks during a campaign event in Doral, Fla., July 9, 2024. The Biden campaign has attacked Trump’s ties to the conservative policy plan that would amass power in the executive branch, though it is not his official platform. (Scott McIntyre/The New York York Times)
Comment: Project 2025’s aim is to institutionalize Trumpism

A look at the conservative policy behind Project 2025 and the think tank that thought it up.

Vote 2024. US American presidential election 2024. Vote inscription, badge, sticker. Presidential election banner Vote 2024, poster, sign. Political election campaign symbol. Vector Illustration
Editorial: Return Wagoner and Low to 39th Disrict seats

‘Workhorse’ Republicans, both have sponsored successful solution-oriented legislation in each chamber.

A law enforcement officer surveys the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, the site of the Republican National Convention, on July 14, 2024. (Haiyun Jiang/The New York Times)
Editorial: Weekend’s violence should steel resolve in democracy

Leaders can lower the temperature of their rhetoric. We can choose elections over violence.

A graphic show the Port of Everett boundary expansion proposed in a ballot measure to voters in the Aug. 6 primary election. (Port of Everett).
Editorial: Case made to expand Port of Everett across county

The port’s humming economic engine should be unleashed to bring jobs, opportunity to all communities.

toon
Editorial cartoons for Sunday, July 21

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

Forum: How much do we really know about ‘bus stop people’?

Our assumptions about people, often fall short of accuracy, yet we justify our divisions based on them.

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.