Sunday, January 26, 2014

Honduras: The new president gets a lavish swearing-in

There’s a certain over-the-top, bread and circuses aspect to tomorrow’s ceremonies for the swearing in of the new president of Honduras.
Especially for a country that is, effectively, broke, with desperate unmet needs.
The government has given all employees a half day off, in case they want to attend the ceremony or watch it on TV. A fleet of 450 buses has also been lined up to bring people from around the country.
The national stadium in Tegicugalpa, the venue for the big event, is being repainted, and beginning Sunday night the roads in a wide area around the stadium will be closed to traffic.
And 8,000 police - 4,000 of the new military police and 4,000 regular officers - were pulled from duty beginning Saturday to prepare security for Monday’s event. They will set up a series of security cordons and guard the hotels where representatives from some 60 countries will be staying (including Canada).
It’s a far cry from the Canadian process where the new prime minister and his cabinet are sworn in, there are some photo-ops and a cocktail party for party supporters, and everyone gets back to work.
You could argue, I suppose, that all the spending and pomp and pageantry are a legitimate celebration of democracy in a country still scarred by the 2009 coup. The November elections, while flawed, where the second since the widely criticized post-coup elections.
Or alternately you could argue that the giant public event is in effect a victory celebration for the National party, which succeeded in capturing the presidency and a plurality of congressional seats, designed in part to reinforce the power of President Juan Orlando Hernandez.
Mostly though, you have to wonder about the lavish spending on a spectacle at a time when hospitals go without medicine and the government has claimed an urgent need to cut spending.

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