Protests began on 7 March 2011 with the sudden introduction of a bill towards municipalisation of education in the name of ‘citizenparticipation’; the congress tries to confuse people with a new name to cover its ongoing agenda to privatise education, but teachersand families are in no doubt, and strikes and unprecedented repression began on 17 March 2011.So far, one teacher has been killed, 20 captured on 24 March 2011 imprisoned for ‘sedition and illicit protests’, and the thousands of teachers participating in the strikes are threatened with mass firings.Every weekday of the strikes came with reports of use of massive amounts of teargas bombs aimed at teachers’ bodies, and of beatings, and illegal detentions. The worst reports regarding the quantity of teargas bombs used was on Wednesday 23
March whenaround 500 teargas bombs were reportedly shot, at the Autonomous University of Honduras UNAH. Journalist and professor JorgeAmador said this repression is more brutal than under Micheletti, the worst invasion of UNAH in 40 years.Bombs have been shot to release gases inside of buildings, often these were sites of gathering, protest, or refuge for the teachers andtheir supporters. The buildings-turned-gas-chambers have included the teachers unions, the teachers pension institute, universitybuildings, homes that are providing refuge for protesters, shopping centres, the truth commission office, schools, etc.Gases have beentargetted both indiscriminantly affecting from babies to grandparents, and selectively, at journalists and key activists, at their headsand bodies.Ilse Ivania Velazquez Rodriguez (59) had one such proyectile teargas can shot at her face at the 18 March 2011 protest which knockedher over, after which she was run over by a vehicle and killed. It was reported that it was a random driver who lost control due tobeing affected by gases. Investigations as always are inadequate. Ilse was a teacher (deputy principal), resistance activist, and co-founder of human rights org COFADEH. Her brother disappeared in 1981. All the regime’s spokespersons have to say about this isthat they are not responsible, and to tell teachers to go back to class to avoid a similar fate.Live gun shots were recorded on a number of occasions on 17 March 2011 – in Tegucigalpa, Comayagua and San Pedro Sula(Margarito Rodriguez was wounded by gunshot in Comayagua, and a father of a family in San Pedro Sula).Illegal detentions of protesters were daily, some examples: 27 in Tegucigalpa and 22 in Comayagua just on 17 March 2011. 10 inTegucigalpa on 18 March 2011 including of an 8 year old girl. 20 in Tegucigalpa on 21 March 2011. 5 women, 15 men and 6 minorson 24 March 2011 in Tegucigalpa. Over 40 on 25 March 2011 in Tegucigalpa.The tanks the protesters nickname ‘La Miona’ appeared and shot its coloured and toxic tint on at least 5 different dates in Tegucigalpa.On occasions, the city centre of Tegucigalpa have been desserted due to attacks against protests. Trees have caught fire from teargasbombs.Many hospitalisations are recorded on a daily basis. One example is of Edwin Osorto (33, teacher), who was amongst those detainedat the protest, but he was not registered at the police station. ‘I screamed I am Edwin Sorto and the police covered my mouth so thatthey would not hear me, I believed that they were going to disappear me because the police were taking advantage of that they did nothave me in the book of detained persons, and went planning on what to do with me on the journey to the Manchen police station.’Sorto, a primary school teacher, was hospitalised, he was beaten in the legs to knock him down, and beat him 15 times with the stick in the head to break it, from which he got a big hole and trauma in the head. He was amongst others who transferred to a private clinicbecause police went looking for him at the hospital, but they also tried to take him from the private clinic.Many cases of attacks against journalists and camera people present to cover protests were reported. For example, reporter for Honduras Laboral Bartolo Fuentes was on 21 March 2011, victim and witness of attacks with sticks, teargas bombs, against at least 12journalists. One bomb was shot at his legs after he turned to take a photo of the bomb launcher. Those attacked included journalists of Radio and TV Globo, Channel 36, El Libertador, and Honduras Laboral. Another example is of David Romero, head of Radio Globo,who appeared on radio on 22 March 2011 reading a declassified document of the CIA where defacto Security Minister Oscar Alvarezaffirms that he was trained in Argentina and US in methods of disappearing persons and intervening telephones. Later the same day hewas at the protest site finishing off an interview with the teacher Casana at the protest and hopping into the car to drive off when 2teargas bombs hit his car, one at the front and one at the back, as the door was open and the gases entered he almost suffocated. He hasbeen granted cautionary measures for protection, which were never implemented.On 25 March 2011, for 30 minutes in the morning during heavy repression, Radio Globo went off air, and Channel 36 went withouttransmission of visual images.
Instead of resolving the conflict, Lobo is telling teachers to go back to school.
Unidentified police sources say the police have areserve of 2 million teargas bombs to continue the repression. Lobo said he will dismiss every teacher who participates in the strikes,and replace these with substitute teachers, as outlined in the emergency decree he passed.With the municipalisation of education, the responsibility for education is passed onto the councils from the state, and the councils cansell these to private companies. IMF and World Bank impose the neoliberal condition of reducing the little the state invests in healthand education, to a regime desperate for its loans (Itzamna, 2011).Health workers in Honduras have just joined in the protests with moves to privatise health services as well in the same way.