Under command of the international financial institutions, JOH’s regime has announced in April the approval of restructuring acts for Health and Education.
Written by Socialist Teachers of the PST
With these acts JOH planned to reduce the payroll and deepen the privatizations in both sectors. He has paid dearly for this mistake since, as we shall see in a bit, the movement of doctors and teachers not only took down the said acts, it brought the same end to the President and Minister Council decrees (known as PCMs) that had been approved in previous years, as well as igniting an increase in the struggle which now demands the immediate end of the regime. For all of this, it is very important that we take conclusions and perspectives from this process.
In the late 90s the Honduran teachers conquered, as a product of their struggle, the Teacher Statute, which went counter to the imperialist offensive that imposed the neoliberal model on Honduras and the entire world. Years later, in 2009, the teachers took over the fight against the coup against the State. Thus amidst work stoppages and demonstrations, the teachers became a bastion along the youth and were seen as leaders of that heroic resistance. Besides there was also a previous experience in the National Coordination of Popular Resistance (CNRP). In this sense, the victory of the coup and the defeat of the masses had very bad consequences for the teacher movement.
During 2010, 2011 and 2012, the coup government not only stole economic rights from Teachers but also approved the Fundamental Law of Education and reforms to the old Teacher Social Security Institute (INPREMA) Law. With this the Teacher Statute is reduced to nothing and the State creates a legal framework to transfer education to families and townships. At the time the teacher movement took the streets against the reforms, but the bad direction of the union bureaucracy led to a new defeat. Caused by these bad experiences, on the past few years a series of grass-roots organizations processes occurred amidst the rank-and-file, without union interference.
In the case of the Health sector, very important strikes of physicians, nurses and students happened. Strikes demanding things such as the payment of wages and scholarships, against the Landmark Law of the Social Protection System and the terrible conditions of public health. Also very important are the denunciations from this sector of the embezzlement in the Honduran Social Security Institute (IHSS) and the Indignados movement in 2015.
Development of the current process of struggle
Faced with the threat of lay-offs, the teachers and health care workers built with a unified forum to fight. The Platform for the Defence of Public Health and Education rapidly won the trust the hundreds of teachers, health care workers and of the general population. The reasons for this trust are mainly that they did no negotiation of any sort before the PCMs were revoked, as well as the organization of demonstrations and assemblies across the country.
The Platform had two important victories: the defeat of the restructuring decrees and the defeat of the PCMs. The first victory is a product of the demonstrations of April 29 and 30, when the university and neighbourhood youth played an essential role. The second victory is achieved after a leap of quality in the process with the national assembly in May 28, in Tegucigalpa, which unifies the criteria and votes for the National Strikes of May 30 and 31.
While all of this happened the government took every opportunity to state it would not revoke the PCMs, and threatened to attack the striking teachers and health care workers. In league with the government, the teacher union bureaucracies failed in their attempt of taking the struggle to the field of negotiating with JOH to dismantle the movement. This policy of dividing and betraying the movement was defeated by the rank-and-file more than once, so the union bureaucrats had no choice but show an apparent alignment to the Platform’s positions and only betray once they became members.
Thus, amidst strong pressure in the streets, millionaire losses for the Private Company and harsh repression, the government announces it will revoke the PCMs on Sunday, July 2nd, although it was part of a reactionary deal with some traitor teacher leaderships which a few days before were being mentioned by the government as very corrupt.
The struggle emboldened other sectors to take the streets themselves. On the third week of June the crisis sharpens, with the heavy load transport strike and the “dropped rifle” strike of the COBRAS and TIGRES riot police. And, without doubt, the main element of the crisis is the removal of JOH.
Conclusions e perspectives
- The demonstrations against the PCMs provoked a shift in the situation of the mass movement, characterized by an uprising and a balance of power which is favourable to the masses. Since the insurrection against the electoral fraud there was not a movement capable of putting the government in crisis. Until now the government was on the offensive with a series of attacks against the working class, without opposition.
- Unity and defining common goals are essential tasks. It is clear that unity is not an abstract subject, because in order to achieve unity we must organize from below. The method of assemblies has managed to forge a strong bond between parents, students and popular social sectors. About the goals or program, the Platform has limited itself to demands related to Health and Education, and while new sectors have joined the struggle, the program has not changed to take in the new demands.
- There is a temporary suspension of the dispersion of the mass movement. Taking over the defence of public Health and Education, health care workers and teachers have managed to win over the support of union organizations like SITRAUNAH, ADUNAH, INFOP, among others, and peasant organizations like CNTC, the MUCA and other peasant movements of the Bajo Aguan, the Indignados and anti-JOH movements of Tegucigalpa, the Mesa de Indignación of El Progreso and neighbours of Choluteca, all of which have taken active part in the process; the youth and its student organizations on the secondary and university level have also had an essential role in the radicalization of the struggle in the streets against the regime repression. The same importance can be given to the neighbourhood resistance of Villanueva, Cortés. However, objectively it was not possible to unite all sectors in a single front against the regime and this is because of the Platform’s limited program.
- The workers must organize independently from the bourgeois opposition. Since the extinct CNRP and the teacher struggle in 2011 there has been no national struggle headed by sectors of the organized working class. Now teachers and health care workers lead the process. On the other hand, unlike the battles headed by the bourgeois opposition parties like the LIBRE, this time class independence has prevented the struggle from being diverted to the negotiations and dialogues with the government which lead the masses to dead ends.
- There is a degeneration in the bureaucracies. They are an objective element which hinders the working class, as has been shown by the sell-out leaders which dealt with JOH. Thus part of the program is fighting against these bureaucrats. The teacher rank-and-file, in this sense, has an even greater task. But it is evident that the rank-and0file has learned the lessons from the previous struggle (2012) and did not trust for a single minute their leaders. Which is why it is urgent to reorganize the teachers from the ground up.
- We need a SECOND NATIONAL ASSEMBLY of the Platform, in which we democratically discuss a plan for the continuation of the fight, centred on the defence of public, free, quality Health and Education. It must incorporate as part of its program the removal of Juan Orlando Hernández from power, because there is no other way to fight coherently against his policies, much less against his compromise with the IMF, other than kicking him out of the presidential chair.
- The unity, the mobilization and the construction of a leadership are strategic tasks in the struggle against JOH. The National Strikes organized from the rank-and-file have shown it is possible to defeat the dictatorship. But for this we must build a leadership that adopts as its central task the removal of JOH. We must urgently build a National Platform of Struggle against the Dictatorship.
Translated by Miki Sayoko