May democracy return to Honduras

In late March 1964, my parents went to visit the newly unveiled Brazilian capital of Brasilia.  My mom, pregnant with me, returned to Uberlândia, where my father’s family lived, to their great relief.  Brazil had just suffered the military overthrow of their elected government, and my mom and dad, seeing the sights in the capital city, hadn’t even noticed.

Like the recent military coup in Honduras, Brazil’s coup was bloodless.  But it ushered in twenty years of political repression, journalistic censorship, disappearances, a pattern of torture, and even amid a time of burgeoning economic growth known as the “Brazilian miracle”, a rise in infant mortality, the collapse of the education system and the polarization of society into a small group of ultra-rich and a huge class of desperately poor.  The Brazil that I came to know as a teenager was a Brazil teeming with urban poor clustered in shantytowns of unimaginable squalor.

The military dictatorship that followed in Chile in 1973 showed patterns of repression that were even worse than those in Brazil.  Argentina’s military dictatorship, ushered in in 1976, was worse yet, resulting in the disappearance of 30,000 people.

It’s a terrible sign that the new leadership in Honduras is shutting down the newspapers that oppose it.  It’s a good sign that the Organization of American States has stood against the military government.  And unlike the earlier coups in Latin America, this time the American administration is also in opposition.

May democracy soon return to Honduras.

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