Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Random thoughts and events

Breaking up the unions?

The teachers are back in the schools – at least temporarily. A new law affecting education has passed through the Honduran Congress that many teachers feel could lead to the privatization of education. There are voices in Congress that are calling for further laws that will change the character of education in Honduras.

I have my doubts that the laws proposed by Congress will really have a positive effect on education here. Dominated by political and economic elites legislators usually have their own interests at heart more than the common good. I could be wrong.

But the other day I attended a meeting of people involved in water issues, preparing for the regional Forum on Water. Most of those present are deeply concerned about the possible privatization of water and the increasing granting of concessions of water use to private corporations, many non-Honduran. But one person made an interesting remark that helped me put the current situation in perspective. He sees the policy of the government is to break up organizations (desorganizar), beginning with the teachers unions.

All of a sudden I thought of what is happening in Wisconsin and other states in the US – the efforts to undermine public service unions. Of course change is needed, but the goal often seems more about power than about reform.

Interesting parallels.

Poverty amid plenty

A few days ago a friend shared what he heard on a television program that morning. Honduras exports are up this year and this is good for the economy.

But poverty continues unabated; the costs of fuel, food, and other items increases. The poor suffers while some reap immense profits.

Seeking alternatives to violence

This past weekend I helped host in Santa Rosa a workshop of the Alternatives to Violence Project.

The project began in prisons in New York state after the Attica Riots and Massacre, when prisoners asked the Quakers to help them deal with violence in prison. The project has grown and is in many countries throughout the world.

The workshop was led by two Honduran women and a US woman who is one of the founders of the project. Eleven folks came together in the Community Center of Colonia Divina Providencia in Santa Rosa, one of the poorest communities in the city. They included five people from the neighborhood.

The workshop is very participative, using methods of popular education. After this workshop there are two more workshops for those who wish to pursue the topic, even to the point of becoming trainers, as had the two Honduran women leading the workshop.

I was impressed by the seriousness of the participants and hope that we can continue this effort.

And so, while governments seek to undermine unions and other organizations of the people, small efforts are being made, throughout Honduras and the world, to bring people together to create a world with justice and peace.

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