Saturday, December 26, 2009

Glossary of Political Terms - My Perspective

As I continue my tour of the World, certain terms have been (or will be) coming up regularly.  To assist with perspective, I have listed each term and a short definition.  This is by no means an Oxford Dictionary approach but simply how I interpret these items.  Let me know if there are any others terms you would like me to define. Enjoy:

Alba -  An organization of Latin American & Caribbean countries defined as a leftist socialist trade bloc and development program.  This concept actually represents Venezuela's Hugo Chavez's attempt to undermine free trade in the America's, create economic dependency on Venezuelan oil money and effectively colonize these countries through this dependency.  With the removal or prevention of open trade, member countries will not fully develop their ability to compete globally and will be forced to rely on "Sugar Daddy Hugo".  We all know nothing in life is for free.  Current members include:...
 Antigua, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, St. Vincent & Venezuela.  Honduras, with the recent end of the Zelaya regime, is withdrawing from this group.

Coup - Also referred to as a Coup D'Etat.  A sudden change of government, illegally and by use of force.  Historically, Coup's have been carried out by a country's military for the purposes of deposing an elected government and taking power.  Examples of historical coup leaders include Augusto Pinochet of Chile and Jose Napolean Duarte of El Salvador.  The recent move by Honduras' Supreme Court in ordering the army to detain President Zelaya, due to his insistence on pursuing a Chavez backed initiative to violate the Honduran constitution, does NOT represent a Coup.  While the act of removing Zelaya from the country is debatable, this was not a Coup.

Democracy - A system in which leaders and/or government are chosen by citizens through a fair and free election process.  Although several varieties of democracy exist, a common thread is a free and fair election process.  Many regimes portray a facade of democracy, incorporating institutionalized fraud, vote rigging and voter intimidation.  Good examples of these faux democracies include Zimbabwe and of course, the retched regime in Iran.

Dictator - All powerful leader who maintains a hold on power through intimidation and force.  Suppresses all forms of free speech, opposition and democracy.  Examples of countries under dictatorship:  Iran, Burma and North Korea.  In the case of Iran and Burma, the dictatorship consists of a regime rather than an individual.

Freedom of Speech - The right of citizens of a country to openly express political and other opinions, free of any threat of state retribution.  This also includes includes the right to peaceful protest.  This right is often abused by individuals and groups who promote hate and ethnic discrimination.    Sometimes countries who have true freedom of speech are forced to make small amendments to this right for the protection of minorities.  These amendments are debated openly and with the best of intentions.  Unfortunately, many countries that lack true freedom of speech attempt to rationalize persecution, torture and brutal oppression of dissent in similar terms, such as the protection of citizens.  Any of you who have been following the recent Iranian protests, are witnessing a regime violently suppressing this freedom.

Theocracy - A concept in which an individual, or group of individuals, who are, "divinely guided", by a God or Deity, govern a Country.  Although many current governments have a state religion, they are not true theocracies as a theocratic government (or a branch thereof) mimics the hierarchy of its religion.  Currently, three governments are considered good examples of Theocracies:  Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Vatican.


LEE said...

There is no legal debate about Zelaya's expulsion to Costa Rica by military officers. It flagrantly violated the Honduran Constitution whereby citizens cannot be expelled from the nation. And it flagrantly violated the Supreme Court's order to arrest and detain him. A few days later a senior military lawyer openly admitted that. So Zelaya's due-process rights under Honduran law were severely compromised. The illegal expulsion has been tragically conflated with the legal order and treated as a coup d'etat or military coup by the OAS, UN, EU and other international parties; by almost all nations including the U.S.; and by Zelaya's Honduran and foreign supporters. The conflation could be resolved if he were willing to be duly adjudicated for his alleged crimes along with the military officers who expelled him. But he refuses to do that, Micheletti's interim government has apparently not filed charges against the officers, and a festering internal and international conflict continues to cost lives and fortunes. So goes the rule of law in Honduras and the international community.

Richard Lee Dechert
Maplewood, Minnesota USA

World Affairs Guy said...

Richard, thank you for your excellent comment. It seems we are in agreement that this was not a coup. I agree that the act of removing Zelaya from the country has damaged the optics of a justified and necessary protection of the constitution. I do note that the removal of Zelaya to Costa Rica was done with the good intentions of preventing bloodshed and maintaining order until the election. Unfortunately, I cannot give much credence to international reaction to any incident, given the hypocrisy demonstrated by the lack of international reaction to many worse crimes around the world.

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