The EI Executive Board in Cape Town has condemned the murder of teacher Ilse Ivania Velásquez as a new low in an increasingly deteriorating situation in Honduras.
Arbitrary arrests, beatings and dismissals are among the control measures that symbolise the brutal acts of repression being acted out by the Honduran army under orders of President Porfirio Lobo.
The situation in Honduras is extremely serious with Porfirio Lobo’s Government repealing the Teachers’ Statute and the Education Ministry announcing a suspension of the collection of trade union dues, thereby suspending compulsory membership.
Furthermore, the government has drawn up a list of 1,200 teachers who were involved in protests and has announced their dismissal. The first six of those to be dismissed were the presidents of six different teachers’ associations, three of which are affiliated to EI. The authorities have also appointed substitute teachers to replace those taking part in protest activities.
On 22 March, the government named a negotiating body which was rejected by the teaching profession on the grounds that it was the same body that, since August 2010, had failed to implement the terms agreed under collective bargaining agreements. The following day, a new Commission headed by Hanna Pineda, the Human Rights Commissioner, and the Zelayista Minister Cesar Ham, was accepted by the teachers’ unions as a step towards enabling dialogue.
Meanwhile, the government announced that it will continue to use armed force against protesting teachers.
In a television programme, the Minister of National Security stated that the only way to solve the problem is to “capture the national trade union leaders.” EI’s Honduran teacher union affiliate, COLPROSUMAH, has reported some schools being surrounded by armed forces to put an end to trade union activity.
Politicians in the Parliament are currently debating a law called ‘Encouraging community participation for the improvement of quality in education’ which attempts to mask the aim of privatising public education in Honduras, and transfer responsibility for education to the municipal level.
To see some images of the represion please click here