The Manipulation of Student Struggles in Honduras

Protesters purporting to be students throw rocks at police in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
Protesters purporting to be students throw rocks at police in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. (La Prensa)

EspañolHistorically, heroes have often emerged from the ranks of a country’s student population, traditionally a seedbed of rebellion and passionate outrage. In many cases, from the US civil rights movement to protests against communist repression in China and the former Soviet Union, students have been the first to speak out against injustice.

In Latin America, students have also been at the forefront of social struggles. In 1968 in Tlatelolco, Mexico, the government massacred around a hundred student demonstrators in the city’s Plaza de las Tres Culturas. History repeated itself in 2014 with the disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa.

It was also students who lead the protests against the authoritarian government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in 2014.

But not every student struggle is the same: they don’t all share the same noble background, origins, or goals. Witness present-day Honduras, where a group of students from the Vicente Cáceres Central Institute, the country’s largest secondary school, have unleashed a wave of violent protests over changes to class schedules. Students claim that adjustments requiring them to study later and walk home in the dark put them at risk of gang violence.

They’ve been unwilling to settle the matter through dialogue with the authorities, and their leaders continue to issue contradictory demands. Students have seized classrooms throughout Tegucigalpa, preventing their classmates from studying, and police have fired tear gas to try and dislodge them.

Meanwhile, other schools across the country have reached an agreement with the government so that classes don’t extend far into the night, compensating with classes on Saturday morning. Parents from these schools confirmed the peaceful negotiation took place and that they never even considered protesting. So why did high schools such as Vincente Cáceres or the Luis Bográn act differently?

Powers behind the Protests

It’s fast become clear that behind these violent demonstrations are groups that, far from constructively reaching a solution, try to create divisions. They want to create martyrs and foment social unrest, so they can later present themselves as saviors from a crisis they launched themselves.

How can we know this? Because the same methods have been applied in every country where the socialist “experiment” has taken root in recent years — and Honduras is no different.

Such is the incoherence of these nefarious political groups is that they support the murder of students in Venezuela and censorship in Cuba, but encourage students to put themselves in danger in Honduras. Young lives matter little to them. What they really want is power, even if the country needs to burn for them to achieve it.

Honduran Minister of Education Marlon Escoto has lamented the injuries that protests have caused, and manifested his outrage that “cowards are taking advantage of children and young people.” After this, Escoto shared photo evidence via Twitter that non-student groups — even their own teachers — were financing the protests.

Escoto also denounced Congressman Bartolo Fuentes from the socialist LIBRE party leading one of the protests that later joined the Vicente Cáceres students’ demonstration.

“Congressman directs the occupation of Pineda Gómez Institute in La Joya.”

Honduras is not Venezuela or Tlateloco, nor is it Ayotzinapa. The political scenario, the intentions, and causes of protests are different — to say nothing of the spontaneity of those demonstrations, compared with the planned and directed element of these.

Debate, criticism, and progress are achieved by clear and calm debate. We don’t need to resort to human shields, young people whose idealism is manipulated to provoke instability and disorder.

Honduras doesn’t need martyrs for any cause. It needs engaged, proactive, and flourishing students who can go on to contribute to the country and tackle its problems. I invite students today to become the solution, not the problem; to encourage dialogue and not confrontation.

I invite them to raise their own voices, and not channel those of groups who only want to climb to power through their effort, injury, and death.

Translated by Daniel Duarte. Edited by Laurie Blair.

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