Nine years have passed since I wrote the last lines of a thesis on the figure of the dictator in Latin American literature. Although my study pointed out the existence, still, of several caudillos who served as magnificent references for writing novels, in the end I thought it was an endangered species. Shortly afterwards I began to doubt if the tyrants weren’t in incubation, to reappear on our American lands. For some time now I have left my doubts behind: the dictators, or those aspiring to be, are here, although now they wear jeans, guayaberas or red shirts.
Nor has that other danger been extinguished: the military that takes the law into their own hands; the uniformed who impose their will by force of arms. We continue to rush into the arms of one or the other because a tradition of personalities and demagogues is not so easily eradicated. Right now in Honduras a whole nation can wrap itself in the prickly coat of the soldiers or be mesmerized by the “triumphal” return—á la Chavez—of one who has been deposed by force. In this dilemma, the citizens rarely come out well.
I like neither military coups nor presidents who seek infinite reelection. I have the same distrust of one who comes down from a mountain bearing arms, as I do of one who is elected at the ballot box and administers his country as if it were a hacienda, or as if it were his parents’ old plantation. And so I am worried about Honduras. I fear what happened will pave the way for the emergence of another figure invested with full powers. Beware! In the broad range encompassing satraps, the worst combination is when the figure of the caudillo and the armed thug converge in a single person.