- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 25, 2001

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras A businessman with little political experience is getting a political boost by citing Rudolph W. Giuliani's record as New York mayor. It's not Michael Bloomberg, but Ricardo Maduro, who hopes to win the presidential election today with a Giuliani-style "zero-tolerance" anti-crime plan.
Mr. Maduro hopes he will benefit by invoking Mr. Giuliani's name, much as fellow political novice Mr. Bloomberg did earlier this month, when he came from behind to win the New York mayoral race after Mr. Giuliani endorsed him.
Mr. Maduro, 54, hopes the identification will work in this impoverished, crime-ridden country. He vowed to attack traffic violations, littering, graffiti and vagrancy as well as robbery and murder.
"I saw how it worked in New York, and I liked how it worked," said Mr. Maduro, whose holdings include hotels and chain stores and whose only government experience was a stint as head of the Honduran central bank.
Mr. Maduro holds a comfortable lead in most polls over rival Rafael Pineda of the governing Liberal Party.
Although Mr. Giuliani has not been involved in the election, Mr. Maduro met with Mr. Giuliani's staff and New York police officials earlier this year before he came up with his plan to give this nation of 6.5 million inhabitants its first traffic laws.
Currently, drivers seldom carry licenses or obey the few traffic signs that exist, turning the capital, Tegucigalpa, into a zone of permanent gridlock. Mr. Maduro said littering, graffiti and vagrancy laws are also in the cards, as well as more accountability among police and government officials.
He also said he will take on more serious problems, such as the country's wave of murders. His own son Ricardo was gunned down in 1997. Nineteen Americans have been killed during the last three years, but none of their killers has been convicted.
As if to underscore the climate of violence, unidentified gunmen burst into the home of a 44-year-old congressional candidate from Mr. Maduro's Nationalist Party and killed him yesterday near the El Salvador border. Police had no immediate information on a motive.
Mr. Maduro's opponent, Mr. Pineda, the 71-year-old head of Honduras' Congress, says he would focus on improving education to fight crime.
"I want to make Honduras one big school," said the former schoolteacher and 20-year veteran legislator. He said he opposed the tough "zero-tolerance" approach. "Besides, I don't think you can transplant a program from one country to another."


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