Views from the Center

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Déjà Coup and the Forgotten “Autogolpe”

This blog entry also appeared on the Huffington Post.

Adam Thomson, in today’s Financial Times, writes of the coup in Honduras as an echo of 1980s violence in Central America. But, in fact, the past is not as distant as much of the coverage of the coup suggests and the seemingly forgotten autogolpe, or “self coup” in Guatemala in 1993 may offer some lessons for today.

Honduras: Walks Like a Coup, Quacks Like a Coup, But Not Officially Called a Coup?

On June 28, after months of tension over Honduran President Manuel Zelaya’s plan to lift presidential term limits, armed soldiers hauled him in his pajamas out of his home and put him on a plane to Costa Rica. Looks like a coup to me. Later that day the Honduran Congress voted to remove Zelaya and swear in Roberto Micheletti, head of the Congress, as the new civilian president. Even so, it still sounds like a coup to me. So, all the news stories call it a coup.

Don't Do It, Colombia! Presidential Term Limits Are Good for Development, But Endangered

How long should presidents rule? On Tuesday, Colombia’s senate approved a national referendum to amend the constitution—again—to allow the popular president Alvaro Uribe to stand for election next year to yet another term in office.

You should care because this is representative of a big phenomenon that spans the whole developing world. For good reasons, many developing countries built presidential term limits into their constitutions—the contracts that govern how people agree to be ruled by each other.