On Thursday, August 5, members of Honduran teacher’s organizations from across the country began filtering into Tegucigalpa to participate in a nation-wide teachers' strike. The teachers left their classrooms in order to pressure Porfirio Lobo’s government to replace an estimated 4 billion lempira (approximately $210 million) that had disappeared from Inpremah (the National Institute for the Payment of Honduran Teachers) and to protest against a proposed law that would privatize the final years of high school in Honduras.
Teachers' strikes are not something new in Honduras. As lawyer Nectalí Rodezno noted, teachers' strikes are a nearly annual occurrence because Inpremah funds (which are intended to provide teachers with a pension after retirement) have been historically mismanaged. What is unprecedented, however, is the brutality being used by Honduran police forces to break up the teacher’s marches.
On Friday, August 20, teachers took to the streets for the fifteenth straight day of marches. As they left their makeshift headquarters at the Universidad Pedagógica, they were surrounded by police in riot gear who began to fire tear gas canisters, beat marchers with clubs, and make arrests. The human rights organization COFADEH reported 18 arrests on August 20, including that of march organizer Luís Sosa. Mr. Sosa was later hospitalized as a result of injuries inflicted by an officer’s club.
In the wake of the repression, teachers have gathered at the campus of the Universidad Pedagógica. There are continued reports of police launching tear gas into the university in attempts to disperse the teachers. Mr. Sosa told Witness for Peace over the phone today that “repression continues to be fierce.”