Teachers took to the streets all over Venezuela to demand decent salaries, social benefits, and a proper health system for teachers and their families. In a country where hyperinflation is entering its fourth year, teachers and professors say that it is just not feasible to teach for $2 a month, neither from home nor anywhere else.
In the municipality of Nirgua, Lara state, teachers were dispersed with tear-gas bombs, while in the rest of the jurisdictions, military personnel tried to intimidate them.
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“We are trying to keep the universities open, but this is a regime that despises knowledge and despises it so much that the salary of a teacher does not exceed four dollars,” said Jesus Larez, college professor during the protest.
The president of the Association of Teachers of the Universidad Politecnica Experimental Libertador (Upel in Spanish), Blanca Teran de Arrieta, declared that it is unviable for teachers to continue in public institutions with a salary of two dollars a month.
“The Venezuelan teachers are defending our right to live with dignity, and not be treated like slaves, because that is what they have done to us,” she said after assuring that there are no conditions for any classes.
In Barquisimeto and El Tocuyo, they marched and raised slogans against low wages, harassment at work, and the deterioration of public education. In Carora, teachers marched through the center of town, despite the deployment of National Guard in full riot gear. In Coro, teachers had the support of the citizens and the Inter-union Commission of Public Workers.
“Stop being indifferent to the problems faced by the teachers in Falcon. We ask for support from parents, representatives, and the students themselves,” the teachers said in unison.
For his part, the student Henry Narvaez expressed: “We, the young people, are raising our voices in support of our teachers because without teachers there is no education and without education, there is no progress.”
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The National Secretary of the Venezuelan Teachers Association, Frank Andrade, indicated that this call marks the beginning of a cycle of protests in Venezuela for the demands of the teachers: collective contracting, right to health, food, and recovery of quality education.
“The Venezuelan teachers must continue in the struggle, not for crumbs, because the government has as its policy to end the salaries of the workers, but for political, social and economic change in this country,” he explained.
Maria Irausquin is a primary school teacher, and she said that with her salary, she can’t buy a chicken.
“We do not even have bus fare. I do not have shoes or uniforms anymore. It has been five years since I bought blue pants for school because my salary is not even enough to eat. We deserve better wages. We are the base of the development of the country. They should take us more into account,” said Irausquin.
The protest was all over Venezuela. “We want a decent salary so that we don’t go to bed without eating,” Teresa Yeguez, one of the hundreds of educators who went out to protest for socio-economic demands in the state of Guarico.
Yeguez, a preschool teacher in San Juan de Los Morros, is a mother who today regrets the weight of the complex humanitarian crisis that caused the emigration of her son.
“I cry for my country. I cry because my son has been gone for a long time. I cry because of the economic situation I have in my house, that of my neighbors and my co-workers,” said the teacher Teresa, who has dedicated more than 23 years to the education of children.
Yeguez is the same woman who almost a year ago told El Pitazo of her outrageous situation of not having a pair of shoes to go to her work at Los Llaneritos Preschool. At the same time, she thanked the solidarity of one of her colleagues, who gave her the shoes to continue her work.
The call of the national teachers received a response that exceeded the expectations of the same leaders of the regions. With mouthpieces, flags, and banners, alluding to the precarious conditions, the teachers in several cities of the country.