A meeting on April 14 between the Honduran government and teachers’ union representatives in Tegucigalpa seemed to be heading towards a settlement of a month-long national strike by 60,000 teachers over pension issues and a decentralization plan that they say would lead to privatization of the schools. The strike, which has continued with some interruptions since March 7, has been characterized by militant demonstrations on the teachers’ side and violent repression from the police and military, with the death of an assistant principal at one protest and several attacks on journalists covering demonstrations. At least two government cabinet meetings included debates between ministers on the human rights situation and its possible effect on Honduras’ international standing.
At the April 14 meeting the teachers reportedly got the government to back down on the firings and substitutions of some striking teachers and the suspension of 702 others. According to Edwin Oliva, president of the Honduran Professional Guild of Teachers’ Improvement, there was also agreement on a new way of regulating the national public school system, on a new General Law of Education and on respect for the Statute of the Teacher, a sort of bill of rights for education workers.
The government also agreed to release teachers who had been arrested in demonstrations, and to review the financial situation at the National Institute of Teachers’ Social Security (Inprema), which handles teachers’ pensions and has been a subject of dispute between the government and the unions at least since last August. Issues that remained unresolved included the government’s monitoring committee for Inprema and deductions from teachers’ salaries for the days they were out. (Prensa Latina, April 15; La Tribuna, Tegucigalpa, April 15; Adital, Brazil, April 15, some from Prensa Latina and La Tribuna)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, April 17.