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News > Latin America

Honduran Transportation Halts For Third Day

  • Taxi, van and bus drivers park along a highway in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa protesting high gas prices. July 23, 2018

    Taxi, van and bus drivers park along a highway in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa protesting high gas prices. July 23, 2018 | Photo: @GildateleSUR

Published 23 July 2018

Taxi, van and bus drivers across the country continue to boycott on Monday demanding a 92 cent reduction in gas prices, the government last offered a 2 cent decrease. 

Transportation drivers across Honduras are on strike again on Monday demanding a 96 cents per gallon reduction in gas prices at the pump.

TeleSUR correspondent in Honduras, Gilda Silvestrucci, reports that drivers are giving the government 48 hours to respond.

Honduras: Bus, Taxi Drivers Suspend Strike As Talks Continue

Leaders of taxi and bus transit unions rejected the government’s counteroffer to lower gas rates by US$.02 over the weekend calling it a "mockery," prompting Monday’s continued nationwide strike.

President of the National Transportation Council of Honduras (NTC), Marvin Galo, while he called the administration’s proposal a mockery last week, added on Monday that the council "will review and analyze the proposal put forward by the government and we will respond with respect.”

Galo told reporters the NTC is in dialogues with the government and that the CNT will come to a conclusion in the “best possible way for the benefit of the Honduran population," he said.

Negotiations with the government broke down last Friday after taxi and bus unions initially demanded a fare increase between 8 and 25 cents. After much public outcry leaders then placed their demands on the government to lower gas prices.

Galo said that strikers - taxi drivers, along with city and cross-country bus drivers - want to reach a deal.

"I think things are going very well and we will get through this," he told reporters, noting that both sides - drivers and the government - have to "give a little" for everyone to benefit. He asked drivers to "have patience" as dialogues unfold understanding that many drivers are concerned about lost wages and unemployment.

The minister of the presidency, Ebal Diaz, said on Monday the government is waiting for a response to its counter-proposal. "We’re waiting for (transportation union) leaders to communicate to their bases the government’s proposals, which are very interesting and very good for them," Diaz told reporters without detailing what the Juan Orlando Hernandez administration had offered drivers. He tweeted a communique that states that the government is dialoguing not only with the transportation sector but all "those who feel worried by the availability of resources to meet their demands." 

If the administration reduced gas fare by 23 lempiras or approximately 96 cents per gallon, the government would take in about US$5 billion less per year, according to EFE. Mayors and municipal leaders are worried about any such reductions saying that the reduction in gas prices means less funding for local projects.

The executive director of the Honduran Association of Municipalities (Amhon), Antonio Mendez, told reporters that certain gas taxes go directly to the 298 Honduran municipalities. The local governments would miss out on some US$225  million in direct aid, according to Mendez.

"These transfers," said Mendez on Monday, "go toward all of our plans for public health, education, kids, infrastructure, … the social fabric that’s strong," he remarked.

Former commerce minister Juliette Handal contends that the lowering of gas prices, in Latin America’s poorest country that has a 68 percent poverty rate, "would release inflationary pressures on goods and services." She tells Contra Corriente she doesn’t like to see drivers return home with no pay, but that their "efforts are worth it."

Drivers are also looking for the government to revise its current transportation law making it more difficult for pirate drivers to operate.

At a press conference last week, the Labor Minister Carlos Madero asked how much public transportation fares would decrease were the government to concede a gas price reduction.

"How many lempiras will the fare be lowered to ensure that this benefit gets to users, who are the majority," he said.

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