MiamiHerald / At a time when the United States should be going out of its way to stop a dangerous regression toward dictatorships in Latin America, the Trump administration – which to its credit has denounced the power grabs by the leftist leaders of Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua – should be equally critical of the slide into authoritarian rule by the conservative president of Honduras.

Unfortunately, the Trump administration has responded too slowly, and weakly, to the widespread irregularities in the Nov. 26 elections in Honduras, which both President Juan Orlando Hernandez and his left-of-center rival Salvador Nasralla claim to have won. Worse, the Trump administration has failed to strongly denounce Hernandez’s previous maneuvers to run for re-election, despite the fact that the Honduran constitution prohibited him from doing so.

Why should Trump criticize a U.S.-friendly autocrat?, some of you may ask yourselves. Well, by turning a blind eye to a rightist autocrat, the United States loses its moral authority to denounce leftist ones. It enables Venezuela’s dictator Nicol├ís Maduro to tell his people that U.S. statements and sanctions against him have nothing to do with a legitimate defense of democracy and human rights.

“The Trump administration’s silence and passivity has generated all kinds of suspicions that the U.S. has a double standard on democracy and human rights issues,” says Jose Miguel Vivanco, of the Human Rights Watch advocacy group. “That’s a cancer that destroys U.S. credibility. … It allows authoritarian rulers to say that Washington makes its judgments selectively, according to its political interests.”

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