The constitution of Honduras, established in 1982, did not provide structures for popular democratic participation. In June 2009, President Manuel Zelaya called for a referendum on whether a constituent assembly should look to rewrite the constitution or not. He had been elected in 2005 as a cattle-rancher conservative but moved to the left and allied himself with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. He maintained that he wanted to guarantee wider and fairer representation to all Hondurans.
President Tiburcio Carías—founder of the National Party of Honduras—governed Honduras throughout the 1930s and 1940s (known as “decades of Dictators” in Central America as El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala were also under lasting rule of their respective, oppressive dictators). His presidency started on February 1, 1933, and lasted until January 1949. On November 16, 1943, Carías and the National Party rigged and swept the municipal elections. This victory gave him the opportunity to modify the Honduran Constitution to allow him to stay in office for an extended period of time.