Yesterday, May 1st, was el dia del trabajador which is Worker’s Day in Honduras and many other countries. In Juticalpa, workers from a bunch of different sindicatos, kind of like worker’s unions, marched across town and gave a bunch of speeches about how they have to fight for their rights and this and that. The sindicatos represent workers from the different government offices (SANAA for water, health, teachers, energy company, etc…).
SITRASANAAYS is the group from my office, SANAA. Everyone in my office is great, but I have some issues with these guys, the work they do, and what they’re fighting for. Due to lack of funding, a lot of these guys spend weeks or even months sitting around not doing anything. They collect paycheck after paycheck but there are no funds for projects or for gas to be able to drive out to communities for whatever reason. This can make things tougher but it definitely does not mean that they can’t go work. For all the jobs that I do through SANAA, the community picks me up, gives me housing and food, and whether it’s one or ten days I don’t spend any money because they provide me with everything I need. However, with no funds, the tecnicos from the office don’t get per diem for everyday they go out. Not getting that extra money (the per diem) is enough to make some of the guys just say no they won’t go work. Yet, SITRASANAAYS has meetings trying to get salary raises and other things that some other people wouldn’t really see as justified.
Yesterday, many people in the march had shirts with Che Guevara and there were various speakers from each group. Most of them talked about how the government is screwing them over and doesn't treat anyone fairly, and that the people have to stay united and fight for their rights. A popular chant (and song) is ‘El Pueblo Unido, Jamas sera vencido’. I believe that’s how it goes. Google it to hear the rest.
Since I came to Juticalpa and starting working, I find it ironic that all these government workers always complain about the government not doing anything for el pueblo and its people. Why? Well a lot of these government workers are in a spot where they can really make a difference, but many (not all) don’t want to do anything if there’s no per diem involved or if the work isn’t for a community where they have family or friends. At the same time, they say the government is holding its people down and they’re trying to get raises and other benefits. I’m not supposed to discuss anything political, so I’m just going to stay at those facts. Anyways, a campesino got up to talk after all these people from the various sindicatos. This guy was a strong speaker. He started off by denouncing everyone and saying that they don’t care about anyone except themselves and the only reason they’re ‘luchando’ for ‘el pueblo’ is to protect their jobs and their salaries. He was saying that he has 10 kids and they need education and they need food and if anyone here cared about the workers (remember this is all during Worker’s Day) that they would be out working with them in the fields instead of sitting around doing nothing while collecting their paychecks.
Most of his speech was along those lines. A couple of the people in the crowd were saying that he’s the only one telling the truth and people should listen to him, but a lot of people kept screaming and making noises (you could picture this better if you lived here) and were messing around the entire time. Most of the people in the crowd would never fight for anything if there were a chance that they’d lose something, yet at the same time they were wearing Che Guevara shirts and talking about fighting back against the government. What the guy said was dead-on: These people aren’t fighting for el pueblo, they’re fighting to protect their own jobs and no one else. This country has many problems, but one big one is that no one cares about their neighbor. I feel like the idea of doing something for someone else or helping someone without benefiting yourself barely exists here.
Anyways, I wanted to write a blog taking a look at the past year. I've been in Juticalpa for almost a year now, which may or may not be the half-way point. Instead, I decided to mention the sindicatos and I hope to blog about other things that are going on before I go to the US this weekend. In case you’re wondering, work and life are going very well here. And there are a few good workers in the office who I make an effort to work with when I can.