A seemingly uneventful transition of power will take place today in the small Central American country of Honduras as Interim president, Roberto Micheletti, hands over the keys to the presidential palace to president-elect Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo. The occasion will be marked with the usual pomp, celebration and traditions that mark any presidential inauguration. But for the people of Honduras, tomorrow’s inauguration will be nothing short of historic. Hondurans will welcome the closing of a turbulent chapter in their storied history.

For months (if not years), democracy and the rule of law in Honduras have been in constant assault. Arrogance and defiance characterized former Honduran President, Manuel Zelaya, as he worked furiously to trample on the state’s constitution to advance his selfish desires to extend his stay in the presidential palace in the likeness of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega.

Thankfully the people of Honduras were quick to recognize the danger of allowing their bombastic president with amending the state’s constitution. Perhaps it may have something to do with Hondurans having seen this telenovela before when dictators and despots ruled over the people indefinitely. The rule of law prevailed when Manuel “Mel” Zelaya was removed from office in defense of the state’s constitution.

Despite having the facts on their side, defenders of democracy and the rule of law in Honduras were largely given the cold shoulder. Our own country sided with Manuel “Mel” Zelaya despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

The people of Honduras bravely carried out their planned presidential election on November 29, 2009 with the eyes of the world watching. The Heritage Foundation was in Honduras, on the ground, covering the election as democracy was being tested in our hemisphere. The people of Honduras spoke loud and clear in favor of democracy despite threats of violence and calls for boycotting the electoral process. Close to sixty percent of eligible Hondurans showed up to the polls to exercise their civic duty.

Nearly two months after this historic vote, the people of Hondurans have every reason to celebrate. They proved to the world that despotism and totalitarianism are not replacing democracy and the rule of law. But as our 2010 Index of Economic Freedom reveals, Hondurans must confront the realities of how corruption and an inefficient judicial system continue to starve their country of true economic freedom.

Hondurans must seize on their defense of political freedom