The DC metropolitan area fell to second place in 2013 in its per capita rate of sending volunteers to the Peace Corps. DC produced 7.6 Peace Corps volunteers per 100,000 residents this year, compared to 8.1 volunteers per 100,000 residents in 2012, when the district placed first in the nation. Vermont ranked first with 7.8 volunteers per 100,000 residents.
If my readers are following the news from Honduras, they know that there is much upheaval over the recent results of the hotly contested presidential elections in which 8 candidates were running, so whoever ran was sure to have garnered a minority of votes as the highest vote getter, not of a majority of votes, wins. As in neighboring Nicaragua, where Daniel Ortega has perpetuated an initial minority win into perpetuity by jettisoning a previous rule prohibiting consecutive terms, a minority win is not a good recipe for maintaining political stability. In both Honduras and Nicaragua, it would be better, in my opinion, to have the 2 top candidates face a run-off election, such as happens in Chile. Frankly, unlike my fellow would-be liberals, I was never an admirer of Zelaya, considering him inept, a fraud, an opportunist, and a demagogue, so would hardly have supported his wife Xiomara. But I realize that she has many ardent advocates, including the family of the young doctor called “Loni” in my book, who are her immediate relatives. Many Hondurans rightly feel the economic and political system is stacked against them—certainly there are obscene extremes of wealth and poverty, with those in poverty far outnumbering the wealthy (as in the US also). However, whether Zelaya and his wife would actually help the majority of the poor while feathering their own nest is questionable in my view and I never considered Zelaya’s ouster a “coup,” though the action was highly irregular and the situation murky because of the lack of impeachment powers in the Honduran constitution. During his presidency, Zelaya did raise the minimum wage to something equivalent to $280 a month, which was never enforced, except among Peace Corps volunteers who argued to be included. He also got cheap oil from Venezuela, which helped everyone. However, now Venezuela is in fairly dire financial straits and unlikely to keep expanding its oil largesse. If, indeed, the US did favor or assist the winning candidate, Juan Orlando Hernandez, that was not obvious and there is no such evidence, and, nonetheless, EU observers have certified the election results, despite irregularities. As indicated, Hernandez had a substantial lead, though not a majority of all votes cast. Ortega already has called from neighboring Nicaragua to congratulate Hernandez. Doubtles Zelaya’s wife’s supporters still believe there was fraud, with Zelaya loudly denouncing the results, and the article below in the Guardian disputes the outcome—however, with much opinion and little proof, I would say. Very belatedly, am regretting not volunteering to be an election observer for this contest. I do have election observer experience (Chile, Nicaragua, Haiti, and DR) and an abiding interest about and concern for Honduras, but I was distracted by other responsibilities and just didn’t present myself beforehand. Who knows for the next presidential election in Honduras? I might be considered too old then and fear much turmoil in the meantime.