Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Cartagena Accord in Honduras

My impression of the Cartagena Accord, which allows for Mel Zelaya's return to Honduras, is positive.  For a translation and discussion you should read this post at Honduras Culture and Politics.

This is really the moment of truth for the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular, or FNRP.  Some resistance groups--even armed ones--have become parties and entered the formal political process with tremendous success, but there is always considerable internal disagreement about whether becoming a political party will lead to real change or will be selling out to the establishment.  One difference in Honduras to other prominent examples (e.g. the FMLN and FSLN) is that although there was a coup, there was no protracted civil war or extended military dictatorship.  There is a pretty large literature on post-civil war transformations, but that does not fit Honduras too well.  The FNRP is not a guerrilla organization that has to give up armed struggle.

There is also a lot written on how ethnic movements become parties.  See, for example, Donna Lee Van Cott's book From Movements to Parties in Latin America. She argues that more open institutional rules augur well for ethnic movements to successfully become parties, when combined with deteriorating linkages to existing parties and strong leadership in the movements.  In Honduras it is reasonable to argue that the first two conditions are present.  As for the third, the FNRP is not an ethnic movement, and so the key factor is whether the leadership can keep it together as an organization that is for certain policies as opposed to being against the government.  Ethnic identity is by no means a guarantee of unity, but it provides for a sense of commonality that the FNRP will have to continually generate.

The FNRP's political committee issued a statement praising the Accord, so we will have to see whether it remains unified over the long term.


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