Honduras: students demand transportation subsidy

A total of 25 high school students from the Honduras Technical Institute in Tegucigalpa were arrested on July 30 when the National Police broke up a protest by about 100 students on the Armed Forces Boulevard in the Villas del Sol neighborhood. The protesters were demanding that the government pay out a promised transportation subsidy. When police agents used tear gas and nightsticks to disperse the demonstration, the students reportedly responded by throwing rocks. Some shops were damaged, along with a patrol car, but according to police spokesperson Desire MartĂ­nez “no students or police were injured.” 

Jorge JimĂ©nez, a student leader, told reporters that the government had failed to comply with an agreement it had signed after negotiations. The students’ goal was a transportation subsidy of 600 lempiras (US$31.58) for the 180,000 students in the country’s 422 secondary schools. Other demands included an end to repression and reforms to the Fundamental Education Law. The government said it had already started paying out the subsidy and would finish by Aug. 28. 

The protests continued through the week. On Aug. 2 students blocked traffic in the El Obelisco area of ComayagĂĽela, Tegucigalpa’s sister city. On Aug. 3, a group of students carried out a similar protest in the Germania neighborhood. With the support of some adults who live in the area, the youths burned tires in the street, tying up vehicles on the highway to the south for several hours.

The student protests coincided with a series of job actions by public school teachers in each of the country’s 18 departments to protest the Supreme Court’s rejection of complaints by various groups against legislation that they said would harm teachers’ rights. Educators walked off the job in Francisco Morazán department on July 30 and planned to suspend classes in Copan, Comayagua and Atlántida departments on Aug. 1. Further job actions were to come in Lempira, La Paz and Yoro on Aug. 2 and Intibucá, Islas de la BahĂ­a and Gracias a Dios on Aug. 3; teachers were to stage actions in the remaining departments the week of Aug. 6-10. (Prensa Latina, July 30; TeleSUR, July 30; Kaos en la Red, Aug. 2 from Defensores en LĂ­nea; La Tribuna, Honduras, Aug. 3)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Aug. 5