As public employee and teachers battle across the United States to save their unions, and as the US intervention in Libya–supposedly aiding pro-democracy rebels seeking the ouster of dictator Muammar Ghaddafi–continues to unfold, the U.S.-backed Honduran government is sicking police and military forces on striking teachers, who are calling for the return of the former democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya, currently in exile in the Dominican Republic.
Manuel Zelaya, a member of the Honduran Liberal Party, was removed from office and exiled in 2009 by a military coup following a request by Zelaya to initiate a public poll on convening a democratic assembly to rewrite the Honduran constitution. The coup was condemned by the international community including the Organization of American States and the United Nations. While President Obama publicly condemned the coup, the State Department intentionally delayed enforcing U.S. law which places sanctions on coups. Last June President Obama restored full political recognition, military and economic aid to the new Honduran government of Porfirio Lobo.
The newly installed reactionary government has been embattled ever since it rose to power, arresting, kidnapping and assassinating opposition activists and members of the grassroots resistance coalition the Frente Nacíonal de Resistencía Popular.
The World Socialist Website and the Associated Press both reported today that the Honduran government has ordered military and police attacks on striking teachers who are calling for the reinstatement of President Zelaya, back pay after a six month delay in teacher payment and more community control over public education.
According to AP, President Lobo claims that protests aim to “destabilize” his government.
The repression of the Lobo regime has already claimed the life of one activist Ylse Ivania Velázquez Rodríguez an assistant principle on March 18th, who was killed after riot police shot a tear gas canister at her head point blank. 20 other teachers have been imprisoned after being charged with “sedition.”
On Sunday, as if reading from Gov. Scott Walker’s textbook, Lobo declared the strike illegal, to suspend teachers pay who didn’t return to work by Monday, and to permanently fire all teachers who do not return to work by April 4th. Already, over 1,200 teachers who’ve participated in protests have been threatened with being fired by Lobo.
14,000 public healthcare workers have walked off the job in support of the striking teachers and also in protest of a proposal to raise the national retirement age to 70. According to AP this strike ended after legislators said this proposal is not immediately up for consideration.
A general strike has also been called for today. Other reports say there have been several highway takeovers by youth and university staff across the country, and that in one incident a professor was killed in a clash with police.
None of this has forced Obama to utter a peep about the repression or to take military or economic aid to the Honduran government off the table.
The International Action Center has called for nationwide demonstrations in solidarity with the Honduran resistance and against US backing for the reactionary Lobo government to take place on March 30th.