Honduras: striking teacher dies in police attack

Honduran teacher Ilse Ivana Velásquez Rodríguez died around noon on March 18 in a Tegucigalpa hospital from injuries she received that day when riot police and the special Comando Cobra unit attacked a demonstration of thousands of teachers in front of the National Institute of Teachers’ Social Security (Inprema). Protesters initially said Velásquez was hit in the face by a tear gas grenade and was then run over by a police vehicle. The Spanish wire service EFE later reported that she fell in the confusion when the police attacked and was hit by a vehicle belonging to a local television station; EFE said the driver, Carlos Eduardo Zelaya Ríos, turned himself in to the police that evening.

Deputy National Police Director René Maradiaga Panchamé told the media that the police were investigating the death. Maradiaga Panchamé led a unit in the notorious Battalion 3-16, a death squad active in the 1980s.

Velásquez was the assistant principal at the República de Argentina school and a founding member of the Committee of Relatives of Disappeared Detainees in Honduras (COFADEH) human rights organization. Her brother, Manfredo Velásquez Rodríguez, was disappeared in the 1980s; her sister, Zenaida Velásquez Rodríguez, is said to have been COFADEH’s first president.

The demonstration come on the third day of a strike by some 60,000 education workers who say 5,000 teachers haven’t been paid in 18 months and that the government of President Porfirio (“Pepe”) Lobo Sosa hasn’t complied with an agreement Lobo signed on Oct. 1 after a strike over the Inprema pension fund. The teachers also oppose a decentralization plan that they say will lead to the privatization of the public schools. Lobo has threatened to replace the strikers with temporary teachers. (National Popular Resistance Front website, March 18, March 19; Honduras Culture and Politics blog, March 18, March 19; EFE, March 19, via La Tribuna, Tegucigalpa)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, March 20.

See our last post on Honduras.

  1. Complete lie
    I am sorry to say but this is not correct.
    The teacher was killed by a pick up truck belong to hable como habla tv & radio news, Eduaro Maldonado. The same teachers killed the old lady and blame the police. The driver was not arrested due to Maldonado gave money to others press to not said who killed the oldlady.
    Report the truth and not to lie people.

    1. Who’s lying about Honduras?
      The Weekly News Update is a news summary based on published news stories, and we cite all our sources. In this case, we reported the protesters’ initial claim that Velásquez Rodríguez was hit by a tear gas grenade and run over by a police vehicle, and then EFE’s later report that she had been killed by a vehicle belonging to a local TV station. The anonymous author of the comment above says this is a “complete lie”–Velásquez Rodríguez was killed by a vehicle belonging to a local TV station! The poster does give a different name for the driver, without citing a source; he or she should certainly feel free to take that up with EFE.

      And what sort of record does the Honduran right have for truthful reporting? Back in 2009 they said that Zelaya was going to run for president again in November, that Zelaya had written a letter of resignation, that the coup against Zelaya was perfectly constitutional, that there was high turnout in the elections organized by the de facto government. A glance at the calendar showed the first claim was impossible, the supposed resignation letter turned out to be an obvious forgery, Honduran constitutionalists assembled by the US embassy debunked the third claim, and the final turnout for the voting was under 50%. Honduran rightwingers are like Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass: “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean–neither more nor less.”

      David Wilson
      Weekly News Update on the Americas

      1. Well said David Wilson.
        Well said David Wilson. Well said…. Honduran protesters have been murdered ever since Zelaya was kicked out of his own country.

        Why isn’t the U.S. helping the people of Honduras from the powerful elite who continue to kill civilians?