Extolling Presidential Frugality

  • Written by  Marco Cáceres

Perhaps the thing that most defined the Lobo administration was bureaucratic incompetence. President Lobo himself said it over and over again, referring to "lmaldita burocracia" (the accursed bureaucracy). He also regularly scolded his ministers for their ineptitude, for not working hard enough to get the job done. He often dressed them down for texting on their smart phones while in the middle of a Cabinet meeting.

 Ultimately, Mr. Lobo has to accept responsibility for the maldita burocracia  and for his inept and unprofessional ministers -- either because he could simply not command the respect (or fear) that he required as President or he was such a poor judge of character that he was consistently unable to appoint the right people to head the ministries. Well, or he just didn't have that many good people from which to choose.

 

The second thing that defined the Lobo administration is waste. It's hard to recall all the trips that Mr. Lobo took abroad -- always with sizable delegations and members of his family. There were at least three trips to Rome to visit Pope Benedict and Pope Francis. There were the vacations to Miami -- at least one to celebrate the New Year. There was the trip to Caracas, Venezeula to attend the funeral of Hugo Chávez. Really. Oh, and the trip to the World Cup in South Africa in 2010. There were countless others, but the trips to Rome, Miami, Caracas, and the World Cup best tell the story of how Pepe wasted the public's money. The president of the third poorest country in the Western Hemisphere can justify traveling abroad with a very small team of staffers to negotiate and sign agreements that will result in increased trade and investment for the country -- the kind of stuff that will produce hard currency and jobs.

 

The President of the third poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, however, cannot  remotely begin to justify junkets overseas simply to see and be seen, particularly not with unnecessary family and friends... and especially not when the money that is being spent increases the public's debt to domestic and international banks and reduces the amount of money available to pay public employees such as teachers, police officers, doctors, nurses, and hospital guards and cleaning crews who are barely able to feed themselves and their families. These kind of wasteful trips are almost criminal.

 

Let's hope that President-elect Hernández makes good on his promise to govern differently than Mr. Lobo. Let's hope that he doesn't get an itch to hop on a plane and fly to South Africa for Nelson Mandela's funeral on Sunday. Let's hope that he has the common sense not to dip into the public dole and travel to Brazil for the World Cup next summer. You know, nowadays you can watch these kind of events on TV (in color) from the comfort of your living room couch... and with plenty of Salva Vidas in the frig. That would send a nice signal to the Honduran people that you're kind of like them. What a refreshing image for a Honduran president. (12/9/13) (photo courtesy Internet)

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Note: The author is the editor and cofounder of Honduras Weekly. He is an aerospace market analyst by profession. He was born in Tegucigalpa. He is the author of "The Good Coup: The Overthrow of Manuel Zelaya in Honduras".

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