|Honduras After the Coup (by codepinkhq)|
Three weeks into a teacher’s strike, Honduran President Porfirio Lobo is threatening to fire all teachers and dissolve their unions. The Associate Press reported that teachers who fail to show up to work today will be suspended without pay, according to the president's decree. If they don't show up to work by April 4, they will be fired. The unions rejected Lobo’s ultimatum. Teachers want back pay for the past 6 months and a return of President Manuel Zelaya, who was deposed in a U.S.-backed coup in 2009. They also oppose attempts to privatize public education and to give the Catholic Church more control over public education.
Hospital workers have vowed to join the strike, while Zelaya supporters and the People's National Resistance Front are calling for a general strike on Wednesday. There was another general strike in February, which Lobo ruled illegal and has used as justification for not paying the teachers.
The teachers have been a key force within the Front, while the recent strike is only the latest in a series of protests dating back to the coup. One teacher, Ilse Ivana Velasquez was killed by police during these protests, according to the Argentina Independent, while several people have recently been killed by police at demonstrations in support of Zelaya’s return. Numerous people have also been assassinated and disappeared since Zelaya’s ouster.
Lobo’s attempts to crush the teachers’ unions should be seen as part of the broader attempt to legitimize the coup government and liquidate its opposition. While this movement includes a broad coalition of Hondurans, including peasants, unionists, nurses, writers and GLBT activists, the teachers have continued to be one of the strongest contingents, going out on strike the day after the coup and striking regularly since then.
The attempt to privatize education in Honduras has an interesting link with Ed Deform in the U.S.: Vander Ark/Ratcliff, a private equity fund (Learn Capital) that invests in digital learning companies. Ratcliff was named in a Wikileaks document as one of the PR hit men hired by the Honduran coup government to help them attack their opposition, including the teachers.