Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo was sworn in today as president of Honduras. So who is he? According to this long, exhaustive, very well done profile by the folks at the Barcelona Center for International Studies, Pepe is a child of the political power structure. Born a wealthy rancher, he studied business administration at the University of Miami. After an odd detour to spend a few years at a university in the Soviet Union, he joined the power structure of the country’s right-wing Honduras National Party (PNH) in the 1980s and worked his way up through various executive- and legislative-branch posts.
After winning his party’s nomination for president in 2005 (partly on a platform that called for legalizing the death penalty), Lobo ran against none other than Mel Zelaya. He lost to Zelaya in a close election marred by complications with the vote count. After Zelaya was deposed in June of last year, Lobo initially supported the coup, then backed off and remained conspicuously neutral during the rest of the controversy.
He won the presidency in a relatively peaceful vote that took place on November 30. His first act as president-elect was to reach an agreement to grant Zelaya safe passage out of the country, which Zelaya took advantage of today. Some 10,000 security personnel were in place during his inauguration today, where Lobo made a point of stating, “It’ll be four years. Not one day more, not one day less.”
His 15 proposals for his administration are as follows:
- National reconciliation, extended to the international community.
- Amnesty as a principle of reconciliation.
- The installation of a truth commission.
- To set up a 28-year National Plan.
- To generate wealth for all Hondurans.
- To set up a welfare program for 600,000 homemakers of the country’s poorest families.
- To get computers for public schools.
- To improve the health care system.
- To push for a public bilingual school.
- To reduce the unemployment rate.
- 200 days of classes (every year, I assume).
- To improve crime statistics, especially in the country’s large cities.
- To improve justice at all levels.
- To combat corruption.
- To attract foreign investment through a new law that will be sent to the National Congress soon.
Pretty standard fare for a politician. I’m more entertained by Reuters’ revelations about the 61-year-old president:
Lobo, which means “Wolf” in Spanish, has been married three times, is the father of 11 children and practices tae kwon do.
Maybe he and Putin could get together and spar.