Hector Ulloea — a former student leader and member of the Libre Party — spoke at the College of Middle Education Professors in Honduras (COVEMH) to an international delegation that had been invited by President-elect Xiomara Castro to witness her inauguration.
Ulloea spoke of the overwhelming support that Castro has, especially amongst the youth of today and those who were youth when the coup of 2009 occurred. In fact, he said, much of the anger of those youth who witnessed the denial of elected former President Manuel Zelaya to remain in office in 2009 fueled their passionate support for Castro.
Those youth and the youth of today, he said, have organized into a powerful force for social change. That change Ulloea spoke of had to overcome the U.S.-supported coup leaders and their collaborators and, in spite of that, successfully made way for the will of the people. Xiomara Castro is the first woman and the first pro-socialist elected in Honduran history and also the first candidate to receive 1.7 million votes in an election, the biggest victory ever.
“A large amount of the youth who were shaped by events of the coup are now a formalized alliance and now a continuation of the process that was started in 2009,” said Ulloea.
The University Student Movement (MEU), which Ulloea belonged to, is not new to the struggles against the coup leaders of 2009 and waged a powerful campaign to keep the National Autonomous University from being privatized, like much of industry in the years after the coup. The students faced massive repression but remained steadfast and determined. Because of the repression, Ulloea said he was forced to leave Honduras in 2019 and just returned three weeks ago to continue his work here on the new government transition.
“These groupings absolutely trust Xiomara and make up those that wanted retribution against the narco dictatorship. The 1.7 million votes shows Xiomara’s ability to unify the opposition against reactionaries,” said Ulloea.
Ulloea mentioned three areas of concentration for the government now as a result of the debt that Honduras is in and the destruction of the economy by the leadership of the government after Zelaya, which sabotaged public industries, destroyed water sources for the people and increased poverty with austerity programs.
“We can’t trust the statistics and reporting of the outgoing government,” said Ulloea. As a result, he said they are forced to gather that information regarding issues like national debt and relative health of various sectors of the economy in order to make budget decisions.
In addition to questions of the budget, they also must consider the needs and demands of the people with the understanding that “we are a socialist government so we cannot cut social services to balance the budget, we must find other means,” declared Ulloea. This refreshing unwillingness to use austerity against the people should help any honest critiques of Xiomara Castro take into consideration the difference between those governments keeping their economies tied to capitalist economics with further privatization and depletion of social welfare programs and those moving toward socialist economics, as Castro has promised in continuing the programs like wage increases and expanded social programs that Manuel Zelaya began shortly after becoming president.
Finally, Ulloea said, the functioning of the government is another one of the three priorities to ensure that people begin to get their lives back and counter the last 12 years of dysfunction, poverty and repression.