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The Caesar Temptation

BUENOS AIRES – On June 28 a coup deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, ending his attempt to hold a referendum that would permit his re-election. That same day in Argentina, former president Nestor Kirchner was defeated in a mid-term election that many people viewed as a test of whether or not he or his wife Cristina, Argentina’s current president and Nestor’s successor, would continue as president after the vote of 2011. Both events crystallized a peculiar Latin American phenomenon: the temptation to empower a new, local Caesar.

This “Caesarism” is not a new idea.  Instead, it marks the return of a practice that had seemed to have been consigned to history’s dustbin which has now returned with a vengeance.