Various Latin American politicians have bypassed term limits, sometimes undermining the rule of law along the way.
Álvaro Uribe of Colombia amended the Constitution to get another term and, this year 2010, sought a referendum to put a third term to a vote. The Constitutional Courtroom stopped him. Yet various in Colombia believe by lifting the presidential mandate once, Mr. Uribe undermined the checks and balances in the Colombian Constitution that were designed to make sure that presidents are placed in check by officials nominated by their predecessors.
In the same way, Hugo Chávez of Venezuela managed to eliminate term limits in 2009 2009. At the time, he was as well busy with a larger project of dismantling the checks on his electric power. So much damage had already been carried out that a few months later on, the Supreme Tribunal he previously packed with his supporters issued a ruling that dismissed the separation of powers as an “device” established to “safeguard individualist pursuits of the ruling class.”
Mr. Chávez passed away of cancer tumor in 2013, but had he survived he’d probably still rule Venezuela. The erosion of checks and balances he carried out has allowed his successor, Nicolás Maduro, to go even more still so that he is nowadays able to intimidate, censor and punish his critics with impunity.
Newsletter Sign Up Read on the main story Join the Opinion Today Newsletter Every weekday, get thought-provoking commentary from Op-Ed columnists, the changing times editorial panel and contributing writers from around the world. Please verify you are not a robot by clicking on the box. Invalid email address. Please re-enter. You must select a newsletter a subscription to. SUBSCRIBE You consent to receive occasional updates and special offers for The New York Times’s services and products. Thank you for subscribing. An error has occurred. Please make an effort again later. View all New York Times newsletters.
In 2015, Rafael Correa promoted a constitutional reform to allow indefinite re-election in Ecuador. After mass protests he previously to compromise by making certain the new provision could apply and then future presidents. But he warned that if the opposition received the 2017 presidential race, Congress could demand new elections, and he’d “run again and succeed.” Mr. Correa’s applicant, Lenín Moreno, received and is remarkably among the few presidents in the Americas who have sought to determine term limits where they are lacking.
Why is Mr. Morales’s strategy unusual, however, is that he has the nerve to invoke individual rights to cling to electric power.
There is transparent hypocrisy in his argument that international human rights law bars the Constitution’s term limits. During the past Mr. Morales’s administration provides often contended that sovereignty should trump rights.
Advertisement Continue studying the main story
In 2013, the Bolivian president said that the Inter-American Commission on Man Rights was an “instrument of domination” and that he’d consider abandoning it. Recently, after Secretary Basic Luis Almagro of the business of American Says tweeted that the results of Bolivia’s 2016 referendum should be respected, the Bolivian justice minister, Héctor Arce, accused Mr. Almagro of hoping to “trample the sovereignty of Bolivia.”
Yet Mr. Morales’s approach isn’t unheard of. In ’09 2009, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua as well played the human rights card. He successfully brought a lawsuit to the country’s Supreme Courtroom of Justice to lift up the term limits established in his personal country’s Constitution. Mr. Ortega ruled in Nicaragua through the entire 1980s and has received two re-elections since he regained the presidency in 2007. When his current term ends, he will experienced 24 years in electric power.
Mr. Arce, the justice minister, provides promised O.A.S. members that Bolivia’s constitutional court would rule with “absolute independence and liberty.” But doubts remain. The seated magistrates were appointed in 2011 through a broadly criticized process that was handled by authorities supporters in Congress.
President Morales himself appears to have little respect for the judicial independence his justice minister promised the O.A good.S. A day after lawmakers brought the claim before the constitutional court, he explained that “the so-called ‘judicial independence’ is at the service of the United States empire” and is a “doctrine of the United States.”
Bolivians have taken the controversy to the roads. In October, hundreds protested in La Paz against Mr. Morales’s approach. And his supporters got to the streets earlier this month phoning for his re-election. The president explained a day later that if he were allowed to run, he’d “win by a lot more than 70 percent” and carry the country nearer to “true democracy.”
Yet Mr. Morales provides progressively undermined many of the checks and balances that will be cornerstones of any functional democracy. In 2013 he signed a decree that grants the federal government wide latitude to hinder the operation of independent civil culture groups. And since 2016 his administration provides been going after a troubling reform to the judiciary that poses a serious risk to judicial independence in the country.
After years of silence, in 2017 leaders across the Americas spoke against the grave abuses of President Maduro’s authoritarian government in Venezuela. Yet work to hold presidents in your community from going toward autocracy could be much more effective if governments reacted as the checks and balances will be being dismantled, instead of wait until the situation becomes an emergency.