Burning of the US embassy in Honduras ‘a provocation’ says former president Zelaya

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Hondurans demonstrate in Tegucigalpa against the government

A TEACHER has been arrested for allegedly setting the US embassy in Honduras on fire last Friday, following police repression of educators and doctors who are protesting against privatisations.

A group of teachers are denouncing the arrest of their fellow teacher by the Honduran authorities in connection to Friday’s burning of the United States embassy which is located in Tegucigalpa.

The group also held more demonstrations and protests last Saturday and Sunday in front of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH).

US ambassador to Honduras, Heidi Fulton, said in a statement the facility is cancelling ‘all visa appointments and routine services for US citizens from June 3-7, 2019’ due to the violent incident.

The group of teachers in the capital are demanding the authorities release Romel Valdemar Herrera Portillo, who was arrested last Friday for allegedly setting tyres on fire in front of the US embassy which resulted in a major blaze and damage to the building.

Local media showed Herrera being seized and put into the back of a pickup truck by military-style police.

The teachers told Radio HRN that his arrest ‘is an attack by the government’ against the month-long, national teacher and medical professional protests, and that the educator is being framed.

Images and videos are circulating on Twitter of a group of young males with full masks pushing grocery carts full of old tyres to the front of the US embassy last Friday and setting them on fire.

Honduran organisations, such as Anti-bots, a cyber security and anti-corruption organisation, questions why there were no police or security in front of the typically highly-guarded embassy at the time.

Just prior to the incident, these same people broke the windows of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which is in charge of all electoral matters in Honduras.

Manuel Zelaya, former Honduran president who was ousted in 2009 and leader of the left-leaning political party Libre, tweeted images of the hooded youths, saying that the perpetrators are not protesters, but ‘paramilitaries’ sent by the administration.

‘Terrorism, assassinations, looting, sabotage and vandalism are executed by paramilitaries operating from the State COUP. (False positives).

‘This provocation today at the “Emb USA” is no exception. Attacking Libre is the purpose. A year ago it was the MARRIOT,’ he tweeted, referring to vandalism on the major chain hotel in Tegucigalpa in January 2018.

Teachers, students, medical professionals and the general public have been holding nearly continuous month-long strikes all across Honduras in reaction to two laws passed by Congress in late April this year.

Many Hondurans say these will privatise the nation’s health and education programmes, and lead to mass layoffs in these sectors.

Hundreds of thousands were also on strike on May 30 and 31 in response to President Juan Orlando Hernandez’ implementation this past fortnight of two executive orders, PCM-026 and PCM-027.

These declared a state of emergency over the public health and education sectors, respectively, in response to the constant work stoppages and protests last month.

Many want Hernandez out of office after a highly controversial and internationally-recognised fraudulent 2017 presidential election that placed the incumbent Hernandez back as head of state.

These latest presidential orders are traditionally only used in times of war, epidemics, or during ‘disturbances to peace’.

The decrees essentially give his administration a blank cheque to privatise the education and public health areas and to ‘reassign’ their funds.

While protests have been peaceful, national security forces have regularly cracked down on the unarmed demonstrators with tear gas and live weapons.

The Honduran Platform for the Defence of Health and Education denounced the state violence and repression as ‘excessive’, and said they will not negotiate or hold any talks until the decrees are repealed.

However, the Honduran president is refusing to cancel the decrees.

Meanwhile, standing up against US interference, the Venezuelan government has pledged to secure the right to housing for millions of its citizens.

To date, the Great Housing Mission Venezuela has built 2,641,000 adequate and dignified homes around the country and plans to reach three million by the end of the year.

The government of President Nicolas Maduro announced last Sunday that it will continue to defend and secure the right to adequate housing despite the ongoing economic blockade imposed by the Trump administration.

‘We are proud that Venezuela has taken on a creative formula to demonstrate that governing by placing human beings above goods and capital is possible,’ Minister of Habitat and Housing, Ildelmaro Villarroel, said.

Despite the coercive and illegal US sanctions that have significantly affected the country’s fiscal revenue, the Great Housing Mission Venezuela (GMVV) is well on track to reach its five million home goal by 2025.

‘In the Revolution all Venezuelans are guaranteed housing, as it is a social right not a commodity and that is the difference between Venezuela and the imperialist countries,’ Villaroel added.

Approximately 37 per cent of public housing projects in Venezuela have been built by the Bolivarian government and the construction will continue as President Nicolas Maduro has recently approved US$184 million to acquire construction materials.

In Venezuela, the costs of housing are protected by preferential financing for all companies and construction companies.

This effort by the Latin American nation has not gone unnoticed.

During the first United Nations Habitat Assembly that took place from May 27 to 31 in Kenya, the international body recognised Venezuela as one of the top countries for guaranteeing people’s right to housing, as the GMVV has fulfilled one of the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Venezuelan government is sticking to the path of rectification, renewal and change in policies and management forms, according to the call by President Maduro.

‘We will transform all working methods to move towards the future with greater efficiency.

‘Let’s prove to the world that we can overcome all hurdles’, Maduro tweeted.

Last weekend the Venezuelan government began to implement its National Change, Renewal and Rectification Plan.

This seeks to generate specific ideas to strengthen People’s Power, and move towards state policies and areas limited by the US siege.

In this regard, the president urged a counter-offensive to recover some management structures and mechanisms, – a call launched since last April.

‘We are facing these difficulties with continuing work, in order to boost domestic manpower by the people.

‘The definitive economic liberation of our nation will only be achieved through the path of the 21st century’s Revolution and Bolivarian Socialism’ Maduro wrote on his official Twitter page.

This plan is originally based on more than 21,000 proposals derived from popular sectors, following the ‘national talk days’ held in April, in which over one million Venezuelans took part.