November 24, 2011

Threats against the media

La Prensa's unpopular headlines
Some of the headlines the president doesn't want us to see

La Tribuna published a public denunciation of police intimidation and threats:

On November 20, a member of La Tribuna's investigative team driving a motorcycle was followed by a vehicle from which two shots were fired at him in Tegucigalpa. He accelerated and was able to flee from his pursuers.

On November 18, a reporter received a call at the office from someone who identified himself as a police agent from the colonia Kennedy station and asked the name of the reporter who covers crime, because, he said, they had just captured someone and wanted the Tribuna to cover it (something which the police had never done before). The agent would not give his name but insisted in knowing the name of the crime reporter. The agent finally hung up when the reporter refused to give the name.

On November 22, a Tribuna photographer was threatened by Cobra agent Mario Antonio Alvarez Izaguirre, accused of losing (or pawning as this article reports) his police weapon. The agent was released by the court after a 3-hour initial hearing. When the photographer tried to take his photo, Alvarez threatened, "Remember that I am free. If you publish my photo, tomorrow I will look for you...."

Also, a Tribuna editor was detained in front of the Las Brisas station on the nights of November 9 and 11. When questions led to him identifying himself as an Tribuna employee, the police became hostile, made him exit his vehicle, to search for weapons. They held him for hours, supposedly to make telephone consultations before they let him leave. Later, the editor was followed to work and again in the afternoon. He was also followed on various other occasions.

La Tribuna stated that they will hold government authorities responsible for any harm suffered by their employees.

Two San Pedro radio journalists who have been exposing police corruption have also reported receiving telephone death threats.

Reporters and editors of El Heraldo, Televicentro, Radio Globo and Globo TV have also reported being the objects of intimidation and physical and death threats in the past few days. A Heraldo editor was also followed by two people, one of them dressed as police. The license plate of the vehicle was found to be registered to a different car, which was decommissioned by police in an organized crime raid. Twenty journalists have been murdered in the past two years.

The Human Rights prosecutor, Sandra Ponce, will be opening an investigation. Commissioner of Human Rights (CONADEH) Ramón Custodio has denounced threats and acts of intimidation against reporters and editors to international jouralist orgranizations.

The following day, La Tribuna's November 24 editoral implied that it is likely that their complaint will be archived into the same circular file as all of the other citizens' complaints. The editorial pointed out the the Tribuna manager had suffered an attempt on his life a few months ago in which nine bullets were fired at his car — and to date, the case remains pending, unsolved, uninvestigated, with no clues and nobody knows anything.

No word has been issued yet about President Lobo's meeting this afternoon with national media directors.
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