Saturday, May 8, 2010

Hunger strike at National University becomes serious

Today in El Tiempo there is a report on an ongoing hunger strike by employees and one student at the national university in Tegucigalpa (UNAH). Four of the eleven employees on hunger strike were reportedly treated for medical problems on Thursday including cramps, faintness, strong headaches, and loss of vision.

Tiempo reports that students who are members of the Movimiento de Resistencia Patriótica (MRP) started a drive to collect food for the dismissed employees this past Thursday.

The hunger strike began on April 27 to demand the rehiring of 186 employees who were fired, the article says, "supposedly for taking over the UNAH." La Tribuna gives a more detailed report that describes the situation as beginning on February 23, when members of the UNAH union took over a building to put pressure on the university administration to negotiate a new contract, and then
extended to all the University City [campus] by taking in progressive form the remaining buildings, which impeded classes being able to be held during almost two weeks.

This led directly to the arrest of University union leaders on charges of, among other things, charges of sedition, as we previously described. On May 3, the judge hearing the case issued a dismissal for the remaining union members whose charges were still pending.

The Tiempo article notes that
uncertainty is growing for the university workers, since their calls still have not been heard by the university rector, Julieta Castellanos

According to coverage in La Tribuna, the initial hunger strikers, David Montoya Velásquez, Víctor Rodríguez, María Juvencia Alvarez, Katy Marlen Pereira, Josué David Reyes and Dilier Herrera, were joined on April 30 by a philosophy student Marvin Amílcar Pérez, and workers Nora Valladares, Jorge Rafael Durón Flores, Gustavo Adolfo Salinas, María Lucila Miranda and Anderson Flores. Finally, a few days later, Samuel Elías Sánchez Flores and Abelardo Antonio Alvarado joined the protest.

Four are in critical condition. Anderson Flores was hospitalized on May 6. No progress appears to be happening on negotiating an end to their hunger strike. Julieta Castellanos met with the Secretary of Trabajo y Seguridad Social, Felicito Ávila a week ago to try to agree on a solution, without success.

Castellanos, of course, is busy in her recently adopted role of Honduran member of the highly contested "Truth Commission".

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