Honduras: students protest plans for draft

Thousands of students marched in the northwestern Honduran city of San Pedro Sula on Aug. 28 to protest plans to reinstitute compulsory military service. “The current government isn’t legitimate, ” student leaders said, referring to the de facto government put in place by a June 28 military coup, “and we don’t want to waste time; we want to study.” The draft was replaced by voluntary service under former president Roberto Reina (1994-1998), but de facto president Roberto Micheletti’s administration is reportedly seeking to bring it back. Jaime Guifarro, student council president at the Technological Institute of Business Administration (INTAE), said the plan was “a step backwards for Honduras” and would hurt “the poor, not the children of the rich.”

Students from INTAE and other schools, including José Trinidad Reyes, Primero de Mayo and Cristo Rey de Choloma, marched down First Street to the central park beating drums and carrying signs with slogans such as “No to the military coup” and “Now I’m going to teach you to kill and beat the people.” The police did not interfere with the protest. (Honduras Laboral, Sept. 2 from Resistencia Morazán; El Tiempo, San Pedro Sula, Aug. 29)

Unionized employees of the National Electric Energy Company (ENEE), the National Aqueduct and Sewer Service (SANAA), the National Telecommunications Company (HONDUTEL) and other state-owned enterprises held a one-day strike on Sept. 3 and participated in protests against the coup regime. According to the strikers, who were occupying their workplaces, the authorities have been laying off longtime workers and contracting new ones to replace them.

Organizers said Sept. 3 was the 68th consecutive day of protests against the coup. For the past several days, coup opponents had been visiting various neighborhoods to build support for the resistance, especially in the poorer areas. People in these neighborhoods tend to oppose the coup, but some have been reluctant to join demonstrations. (Minga Informativa de Movimientos Sociales, Sept. 3 from Comunicaciones—Vía Campesina en Honduras)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Sept. 6

See our last post on Honduras.