Hondurans began a dialogue to define healthcare and education policies amid the collapse of President Hernandez administration's legitimacy.
The Honduran Platform for Defense of Education & Healthcare (PDSE) committee began its "Alternative Citizen Dialogue" to in Tegucigalpa Tuesday in order to discuss how the government can improve the health and education systems amid austerity protests across the country.
"This democratic exercise has been created by people who cry for a better future," Suyapa Figueroa, the PDSE coordinator and president of the Medical College of Honduras (CMH) said Tuesday. She stressed that the Honduran "political class not only holds power for its own benefit, but forgets that true power rests in the people."
The PDSE dialogue, which includes representatives of public organizations and international agencies, aims to design a comprehensive plan to improve the national public education and health systems.
"This plan seeks to recover the public health and education systems which are have being outsourced through a service management model," Figueroa explained. She added that social movements and the public at large remains mobilized until health and education are recognized as fundamental human rights that the state should provide.
"Day 8 hunger strike in Tegucigalpa!" Two teachers Ruy Diaz and Wilton Gomez are on hunger strike in defense of health and education and to demand the release of political prisoners in Honduras. Their health is being monitored by a doctor."
Hundreds of teachers, students, doctors, nurses and citizens tried to participate in the PDSE roundtable Tuesday at CMH headquarters, however the facilities were too smal. The meeting organizers accomodated anxious participants by installing two giant screens outside the building to broadcast the event live.
Among the invited to the dialogue was the president of the Latin American Medical Confederation (CLM), Anibal Cruz, who stressed that privatization of Honduran health services has worried international specialists.
"We have been monitoring the problem, a general strike which has been carried out for more than 30 days in Honduras," he said, adding, "the right to health is a right to enjoy, without discrimination, the best healthcare that allows peopel to live a worth life."
Cruz said that healthcare systems in poor countries are so precarious that neonatal wards often have to sleep babies in cardboard boxes, pharmacies at public hospitals go unstocked. He blamed these symptoms on weak policies, low budgets, corruption and business interests where "the pharmaceutical industry monopolizes the health market."
"The healthcare and education platform at the Medical College of Honduras."
Since late April Hondurans have been carrying out a near-constant strike when Congress approved the "Law of Restructuring and Transformation of the National Health and Education System" that education and medical professionals said would privatize these two sectors and lead to massive layoffs in each.
The director of Casa Alianza Honduras, Jose Guadalupe Ruelas, stressed that the PDSE dialogue is an effective response to the lack of legitimacy of the right-wing presidency of Juan Orlando Hernandez that the population doesn't trust.
"This is an illegitimate administration. It is really difficult for it to build education and health for the people," said Ruelas at the conference.
"The people have self-convened through the Platform. ... various sectors are gathered to try to generate alternatives for our country," added Ruelas.
Across the country citizens continue protest, calling for state support for the health and education systems and the removal of President Juan Orlando Hernandez.
Simultaneous to the PDSE alternative talks the Honduran government is carrying out its own with other health and education organizations.
Vice Minister of Education Javier Menocal and Deputy Interior Minister Nery Cerrato attended this meeting saying that social organizations should participate in the government's "official dialogue."
The PDSE representatives, however, rejected the government's pleas calling the administration's dialogue "false."