December 17, 2018

Press Freedom

Honduras

OPC Protests Spree of Bloody Violence Against Honduran Journalists


H.E. Porfirio Lobo Sosa

President

Republic of Honduras

c/o Embassy of the Republic of Honduras

3007 Tilden Street

Washington, DC 20008

Fax: (202) 966.9751


Your Excellency:


March was a catastrophic month for our Honduran colleagues. The ambush and execution of two journalists on a highway in eastern Honduras brought to five the total of reporters murdered in that month alone.


As we are sure you know by now, on the 26th of March, radio journalists, José Bayardo Mairena Ramírez and Manuel Juárez, had just finished hosting their radio program for Radio Excélsior in Catacamas and were driving to Juticalp. Gunmen pulled up alongside their car and shot them both to death.


Mairena, as we assume you are aware, opposed the 2009 coup d’état that ultimately led to your election. He was known for his sympathy to the opposition movement, according to our associates at ARTICLE 19, and was a veteran journalist whose beat included organized crime. His associate, Juárez, was a news presenter. The two journalists worked together on the program, “Así es Olancho,” for R.Z. Television’s Channel 4.


Local authorities have, to date, not suggested possible motives or identified any suspects in their murders of Mairena and Juárez. What we know for sure is that they are the latest victims in a spree of murderous violence against Honduran journalists. On March 14, unknown attackers shot to death Nahúm Palacios Arteaga in Tocoa. On March 11, radio reporter, David Meza, was murdered in La Ceiba. On March 1, reporter, Joseph Hernández Ochoa, was slain in Tegucigalpa in a shooting that left another journalist seriously wounded. At this writing, investigators have reported no progress in any of the five cases.


In the meantime, on the same day that Mairena and Juárez were murdered, journalist, José Alemán, was attacked by gunman in San Marcos de Ocotepeque. Alemán, a correspondent for Radio América and Diario Tiempo, survived the attack but was compelled to flee the country after being told by local police they were unable to provide him with protection. And in San Pedro Sula, multiple threats have been made against the staff of Radio Uno. The broadcaster, which despite being monitored by the Honduran army since last year’s coup, continues to take risks by covering human-rights violations.


According to ARTICLE 19, these attacks on our colleagues are of a piece with recent assaults on human rights and opposition activists since the middle of 2009. We see no evidence to dispute that suggestion.


Violence and corruption predate your presidency, and have for too long marked life in Honduras. The work of the nation’s courageous journalists should be more than protected. It should be celebrated as the cornerstone of civil society. It would be a signal of a new direction for Honduras if such a celebration, combined with your promise of justice for our murdered colleagues, were to come from your young presidency.


Respectfully yours,


Larry Martz
Kevin McDermott

Co-chairmen – Freedom of the Press Committee


cc’s:

H.E. Eduardo Reina Garcia

Ambassador of Honduras to the U.S.A.

Embassy of the Republic of Honduras

3007 Tilden Street

Washington, DC 20008

Fax: (202) 966.9751


Ambassador Jorge Arturo Reina

Permanent Representative

Permanent Mission of the Republic of Honduras to the United Nations

866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 417

New York, NY 10017

Fax: (212) 223.0498


H.E. Hugo Llorens

U.S. Ambassador to Honduras

Embassy of the United States of America

Avenida La Paz

Tegucigalpa M.D.C.

Honduras

Fax: (011.504) 236.9037


Radio América

Tegucigalpa

Honduras

Fax: (011.504) 232.2923


Diario Tiempo

web.tiempo@continental.hn