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Liberalism in Honduras


Liberalism in Honduras

Liberalism in Honduras, as a form of Latin American liberalism, has old historical roots. Influenced by the French revolutionaries in the 1790s, the door was opened for ideas of positivism. People turned to liberal ideas: the idea of liberty, equality, and popular sovereignty.

In the early years after the region achieved independence from Spain, Honduras was a constituent of the United Provinces of Central America. Frictions between liberals and conservatives undermined the federation. The liberal position was in favour of republicanism, free trade, less government and boven all removal of the political and economic powers of the catholic church. The Honduran liberal Francisco Morazán became president of the United Provinces in 1830. Morazán enacted many reforms, including freedom of speech, the press, and religion, equality of people of all classes before the law, and trial by jury. All of this was objected to by the Conservatives. The separation of Church and State, including allowing secular marriage and divorce and an end to government enforced tithing, made much of the clergy an enemy of Morazán and the Liberals. This led to a breakdown of this federation.

Independent Honduras came under control of the conservatives. It lasted until 1876 that the liberal Marco Aurelio Soto assumed the presidency. In the upcoming period liberals dominated the country and encourage foreign investment and economic growth. Soto and his successors were responsible for the reform of the powers of judiciary and church, a professionalization of the armed forces and a modernization of communications and education. In this way they paved the way for Honduras to become a state capable of taking its place in the world. Liberals were president until 1903 with Luis Bográn (1883-1891), Ponciano Leiva Madrid (1891-1893), José Policarpo Bonilla Vásquez (1894-1899) and Terencio Esteban Sierra Romero (1899-1903). After this period liberals ruled the country between 1907 and 1911 (Miguel Rafael Dávila Cuéllar), 1920 and 1924 (Rafael López Gutiérrez and 1929 and 1933 (Vicente Mejía).

After that year a period of conservative and/or dictatorial rule starts. Only in 1957 the liberals could regain power with the (democratic) election of Ramón Villeda to the presidency. He is deposed by a bloody military coup in 1963. This leads to another long period of military rule/ This ended in 1980 and in 1982 Honduras became a presidential democracy again with the election of the liberal Roberto Suazo as president. Liberals were also elected president in 1985 (José Azcona), 1993 (Carlos Roberto Reina) and 1998 (Carlos Roberto Flores).

In contrast to most other liberals in Latin America, the Honduran liberals remained united in one party, the Liberal Party of Honduras (Partido Liberal de Honduras), however after the 2009 Honduran coup d'état former president Manuel Zelaya and his supporters including some former liberal party members split away from the liberal party to form a new party LIBRE. The PLH is member of the Liberal International and nowadays the traditional centre liberal party. It was founded in 1890 and is a party with both conservative and progressive wings. The diversity of the party is reflected by the existence of factions within the party.

Further reading

  • Zaldivar Guzman, Raúl: Liberalismo en Honduras (Tegucigalpa, 1964)

See also

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