In Honduras, #FueraJOH becomes a national war cry

The government has yet to respond to the demands of the education and healthcare workers who have been mobilizing to defend the sectors for more than a month.

June 12, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch

Over the past month, thousands of teachers, students, doctors, healthcare professionals and citizens have been mobilizing across the country in defense of public health care and education. The demonstrators are demanding the elimination of the executive decrees PCM 026-2018 and 027-2018 as well as the resignation of President Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH) under the slogan “FueraJOH” (Out JOH).

The Platform for the Defense of Health and Education has been at the forefront of the mobilizations. The platform is an umbrella organization which brings together several organizations and trade unions from the healthcare and education sectors.

On Tuesday June 11, several important roads were blocked throughout the national territory and marches were carried out in the main cities of Honduras. In the capital Tegucigalpa, hundreds of people marched along the Suyapa Boulevard continuing their dignified struggle while the government threatened to arrest the protesters.

President Hernández on his twitter account warned that protests will no longer be tolerated by his administration. “Anyone who wants to protest, can do so, but in peace, without harming others, without violence. We will not tolerate that anymore,” he tweeted.

Last week, the platform presented a set of nine demands to the government and demanded to hold the dialogue with the representatives on television and in one of the hospitals in Tegucigalpa. But until today, the government has not responded to them.

The platform informed that in an act of desperation, the government has infiltrated organized criminal groups to carry out acts of vandalism and looting. Several infiltrators wearing hoods were identified by demonstrators. Later, the complaints against them were also lodged. However, in the evening, the Ministry of Security, omitting these complaints threatened that it would arrest every protester who is hooded.

The mobilizations have received the support of common citizens. On Tuesday dozens of people blocked the CA-13 highway, an intersecting road between the cities of San Juan Pueblo, La Masica, Tela, Atlántida, in support of the platform. They also demanded that the Honduras Energy Company (EEH) and the Honduran National Energy Company (ENEE) put an end to the increases in the tariffs of electricity services.

Late at night, after an internal meeting, the platform gave the call for another set of mobilizations today, on June 12. It called to hold a demonstration outside the main campus of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH). Through an official communiqué, the UNAH announced the suspension of all its activities for the day. Vitalino Alvarez, the president of the Unified Movement of Peasants of Aguán (MUCA), expressed their support to the platform. He said that the platform had become the movement for all kinds of social struggles and vowed to address to all their calls for protests in the department of Colon.

The executive decrees of the Presidency of Ministerial Council (PCM) 026-2018 and 027-2018, give the President and the cabinet, the authority to transfer the administration of the public healthcare and education to private hands. It also allows them to carry out mass dismissals in both sectors. These decrees were approved after the military coup d’état of 2009 as an attempt to repress the rebellious trade unions of the two sectors.

For more than a month, the professionals of the education and healthcare sectors have been mobilizing to defend the already precarious services of the two sectors. The crisis in the sectors is a key contributing factor to the impoverishment and misery faced by many in Honduras.