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Honduras: Solidarity with teachers and others fighting for democracy

by ctu communications  |  12/29/2017

We all know we are under assault on a million fronts here in Chicago and in the U.S.. Sometimes that makes it hard to also keep an eye on what is going on around the world, but we want to encourage CTU members and supporters to take a moment and learn about the struggle in Honduras against electoral fraud, the brutal repression people are facing, and the visionary resistance the people are waging.

Why should we pay attention?

  • Because we are fighting the same enemies. The same financial interests behind closing schools and privatizing education in Chicago are also supporting the Honduran dictatorship. There they don’t just have charter schools, they have corporate-run charter cities! The powerful behind these policies work together, and we also need to work together if we are going to win.
  • Because our tax dollars are funding their death. 34 people have been killed in Honduras just for peacefully protesting against electoral fraud. The Honduran military and police have received over $100 million from U.S. taxpayers since the 2009 coup d’etat, during which many teachers were killed for protesting. They are using that money to carry out a brutal wave of repression.
  • Because we have important lessons to learn from Honduran teachers' resistance. As authoritarian rule begins to creep up on us here at home, we need to learn lessons from those resisting outright dictatorships around the world. Few places have social movements as bold and visionary as in Honduras right now, where in the last month they have been able to shut down over 200 roads around the country, convene marches of millions, and force a major crisis for a dictator who has yet to be recognized by most of the world or fully install himself into power despite using overwhelming force to try to crush the protests against him. This repressive regime has yet to fully take power because people have not given up. Teachers have played a major role in opposing repression and are often described as the backbone of the resistance.
  • Because this crisis will provoke a mass wave of refugees. After the 2009 coup d’etat, migration from Honduras to the U.S. skyrocketed, leading to tens of thousands losing their lives while passing through Mexico and thousands of children ending up at the border as refugees. This current crisis is only exacerbating those pressures in what is already the world’s most violent country.
  • Because Honduran teacher leaders are specifically asking Chicago teachers and their supporters to help.

Here’s some background on what’s going on, followed by a call to action:

As you may have heard, Honduras is in flames. There were elections on November 26th where the two leading contenders were Salvador Nasralla of the Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship and Juan Orlando Hernández, who flagrantly violated the Honduran constitution, which prohibits a sitting president from running re-election. Hernández has been consolidating his grip on power since his last electoral fraud in 2013. His administration was found to have stolen millions from the public hospital system in Honduras to help finance his previous campaign, officials in his government have been directly implicated in the assassination of indigenous leader Berta Cáceres, and he has militarized Honduran society like never before seen, especially through his creation of a military police force that responds directly to him without any accountability. He has given away hundreds of concessions to mining and dam companies, deepened privatization, attacked teachers and other unionized workers, had close family members implicated in ties to narco-traffickers, and relentlessly criminalized and attacked human rights defenders.

Hondurans rejected him overwhelmingly at the polls. The head of the electoral tribunal, a close friend of Hernández and a member of his party, refused to release results that showed the opposition alliance having an “irreversible lead” with most votes counted and the opposition up by 5%. A rebellion by one of the magistrates and pressure from international observers forced the release of these results and Hondurans began to celebrate for several days, despite the system “going down” and no further results released for days. When the system came back up, all the remaining votes broke for Juan Orlando Hernandez overwhelmingly, the hard drive had been re-formatted and ballot boxes were found opened -- all of which is documented in the Organization of American States’ report. The final “results” showed Juan Orlando Hernandez with a razor-thin margin.

Hondurans cried foul and took to the streets in numbers not seen since at least the 2009 coup d’etat, and surpassing that resistance in many ways. They have shut down all of the major roads in hundreds of blockades around the country and held marches of millions denouncing the fraud.

The response has been the use of live ammunition by the military police, leaving 34 people killed, hundreds wounded, and thousands detained. The regime is desperately clinging to power through the use of force alone, and people are not giving up, leading to a quickly spiraling human rights crisis. Tear gas is being shot indiscriminately into densely populated areas, leaving numerous children hospitalized. Even the main public hospital was tear gassed.

But Hondurans have not given up, and are stepping up their struggle. The least we can do as a starting point is to pay attention. Here are some resources to learn more, followed by a call to action. Make sure to watch the video specifically directed to Chicago teachers from a Honduran teacher leader as a starting point.

Background articles and videos :

People can follow the crisis on the La Voz de los de Abajo blog: HondurasResists.blogspot.com

Call to action:

  1. January 27th at 10am we will participate along with other Chicago unions and organizations in a citywide teach-in and action downtown (location TBA) in solidarity. Please mark your calendars and begin to spread the word.
  2. Call your representatives. You can call (202) 224-3121 and give your zip code and be connected with your representative. Tell them  “My name is ________, I am a constituent and live at _____________ and a member of _____________. I am outraged about the human rights violations and electoral fraud in Honduras. I want to know what my representative is doing and ask that you 1) call for an end to all U.S. military and police aid to Honduras until the human rights violations cease and 2) call on the State Department to take back its recognition of Juan Orlando Hernández, whose candidacy was illegal under the Honduran constitution and whose electoral victory the OAS and European Union have both said was mired in irregularities and whose results both have refused to certify as a result.”
  3. Call Senators Durbin - (202) 224-2152 - and Duckworth - (202) 224-2854 - and deliver this same message. Also ask Senator Durbin to stand with Senator Leahy and use his vote in the Appropriations Committee to hold up funding to Honduras through the Alliance for Prosperity until the human rights violations end and there is a transparent process to ensure the Honduran people’s will is respected.
Chicago Teachers Union