TEGUCIGALPA – Honduran police used tear gas on Monday against ousted President Mel Zelaya and other activists who blocked roads to protest the imposition of new tolls.
Members of the center-left LIBRE party and of the FNRP resistance organization that arose following the June 2009 coup against Zelaya joined the former head of state for a demonstration at a toll plaza between the northern cities of San Pedro Sula and La Lima.
Elsewhere in the north, cops forcibly removed protesters who burned tires to block traffic on a one-land bridge in the Santa Rita sector.
Security Minister Julian Pacheco said over the weekend that authorities would not allow demonstrators to interfere with transport.
Zelaya was on the telephone with a television station in Tegucigalpa when police launched the tear gas against the protesters.
The government should not be collecting tolls for the use of roads that are already built and paid for, he said.
“The people must protest, demand electoral reform and transparency,” he said, accusing President Juan Orlando Hernandez of plotting to remain in power beyond the elections scheduled for November 2017, despite a constitutional ban on consecutive terms.
In Zambrano, some 35 kilometers (22 miles), north of the capital, security forces dispersed demonstrators led by Zelaya’s wife, Xiomara Castro, who reminded Hondurans that the tax they pay on gasoline at the pump is supposed to fund highway maintenance.
“We oppose the toll because we are paying twice,” she said. “We will not finance with our money the re-election of Juan Orlando Hernandez.”