Honduran police have fired tear gas at 200 people protesting a newly erected highway toll outside of Honduras' second-largest city, San Pedro Sula. Former president Manuel Zelaya was among those in the crowd. This is just one of eight simultaneous protests at new highway tolls around the country.
The tolls are a public-private initiative. The government has contracted out private companies to run the tolls, which charge drivers 20 lempiras or a little less than a dollar to pass, a princely sum in a country where per capita income is less than $US200 per-month.
“They are firing these tear gas canisters at the people. The protests weren't violent. People were on the sidewalks,” Luis Redondo, a lawmaker with the Anti-Corruption Party, told teleSUR. “They were just saying that we don't want reelection in Honduras.”
The action is part of larger opposition mobilizations against the government of Juan Hernandez and his political maneuvering to run for reelection next year.
Zelaya, the left-leaning president who was deposed in a 2009 coup, told teleSur that “this government abuses the Honduran people. This toll restricts the Honduran people's right to movement that is guaranteed under the Honduran constitution. No more tolls. No more electric meters for the poor ... We stand in defense of society's rights.”
Opposition parties are demanding electoral reform ahead of next year's vote, or they vow that there will be no vote.
There are roughly 200 police on the scene.