May 24, 2007

Uh-Oh! We're on that slippery slope

Honduran President Mel Zelaya, photo: CNN/APP

Honduras has taken the first step down that slippery slope I was talking about in "Oh, boo hoo, everyone is against me."

CNN reports today:

"Honduran President Manuel Zelaya has ordered all private radio and television stations to broadcast government propaganda to counteract what he called unfair coverage of his administration."

President Zelaya has ordered the stations to broadcast an entire two hours of his propaganda every day for the next 10 days, saying:

"We find ourselves obligated to make this decision to counteract the misinformation of the news media about our 17 months in office," Zelaya told a news conference.

The fact is that people are not stupid. If Mel's administration was doing good things for the country, the people would know it and the press would report it. We wouldn't need him to tell us about it. He says that the media has created a climate of personal and business insecurity. He can't really be so naive to think that people will feel safer or that businesses will come to Honduras because the president commandeers the media and says so, can he?

Some of the most recent information is that Zelaya's country house was fiber-optic wired by the near-bankrupt national telephone company at no charge to him.

A few years ago, the former Honduran president made an address and all of our 80-plus cable TV channels were turned off until the address was finished. I'm wondering if these two daily hours are going to be like that, where people don't have a choice to watch or listen to anything else.

El Colegio de Periodistas (organization of journalists) has asked him “muy respetuosamente” (very respectfully) to revoke his decision.

(Thanks, Ángel, for tipping me off to this report.)

Update May 25, 2007: President Zelaya's actions have the attention of potential business investors now. The story was picked up by Forbes, International Herald Tribune, NY Times, LA Times, and numerous other news agencies. If there is one thing that
most of the world agrees upon, it is the importance of freedom of the media.

Aaron, a Honduran who writes the Pensieve blog (in English), also wrote about it in Mel Zelaya, Paranoia and Authoritarianism
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