Most political observers in Chile went to bed on November 19th with the certainty that Sebastian Pinera would defeat what was often dubbed by press and pundits: a cohort of Lilliputians.
The reckoning came the morning after as a completely unexpected turn of events in a surge in electoral preferences for the center of left pushed Alejandro Guillen, a journalist to political center stage.
Mr. Guillen will now face off Mr Pinera in the December the 17th runoff.
The same bitter awakening was experienced by the current president of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernandez who thought he had this reelection wrapped up only to find that he could lose.
In Chile, the absence of renovation among the liberal forces led to public fatigue and a sense of entrapment that triggered a strong citizen reaction against the leadership that brought back to country to democracy.
And while this does not include some of Pinera’s supporters who would have easily worked for a military regime, it encompasses the rest of the political leadership encapsulated in the Party for Democracy to fight the Pinochet dictatorship.
But this political amalgam was meant to exist as a catalyzer of anti-dictatorial forces.
As democracy gained traction however, the blend was to dissolve into interest ridden political associations that would allow participation to the most varied groups of citizens.
Instead the Party for Democracy continued to monopolize electoral politics, thereby freezing democratic change.
This created a sense of alienation among the young that erupted into street protests and continuing dissent to the point of threatening governance.
Today most interest groups have their own association and hold positions that are far apart to those of the Party for Democracy whose old leadership looks unattractive and incompetent to deal with the challenges presented by a society that is young and lives in the digital space.
The country could now fall pray to political fragmentation triggered by the monopolistic behavior of the foundational generation.
In Honduras, lack of adequate policies to beat poverty and control violence took a toll on president Hernandez, whose star began to dim before the elections.
To be sure, under his watch the worst children exodus has taken place in Honduras.
UNHCR, the UN agency for refugees estimates that every year about 9,000 children are sent away by their parents to seek security in the U.S.A. as undocumented migrants.
Between 10-20% of these children never reach the U.S. safely.
They succumb to death by exhaustion or are taken by human trafficking gangs as sex slaves. Their parents and relatives are beginning to organize to demand better public policies from the Honduran government.
Needless to indicate that president Hernandez is not precisely admired by the children’s relatives.
Most recent recount results seem to slightly favor President Hernandez over his contender the journalist Salvador Nasralla.
The people of Honduras however do not seem to believe in those tallies and have taken the streets in protest.
Should Hernandez carry on with his uncertain mandate, he will most certainly face strong political dissent, constant protest and elusive governance. This situation will weaken his authority while making economic development more elusive. In short Honduras is about to become a destabilized nation in the years to come.
Both countries are archetypal of the difficulties Latin nations face in adjusting their institutional framework to change brought about by economic or political conditions.
Chile has been unable to adapt to a vibrant democracy that constantly demands more avenues to participation while in Honduras once freedom has been guaranteed, people are demanding security. Neither will come unscathed from these challenges to democratic rule.
Published by LAHT.com on Monday December 4th, 2017