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Journalist Political Murders In Honduras
By Aaron Ortiz

From the beginning of the constitutional crisis of 2009, the OAS took a stance that seemed calculated to guarantee the reelection of José Miguel Insulza.  Comparing the statements of Human Rights Watch and the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights you will see that the IAHRC would only publish and complain of human rights abuses against friends of ALBA nations. ALBA nations and ALBA-friendly hold considerable power in the OAS, being the majority. Thus Insulza could not hope on being reelected if he crossed them.

Because of this, while the human rights situation deteriorated notably in Venezuela and Cuba, the OAS was silent. The United States, whose influence in Latin America is leveraged through the OAS since the Obama administration, was also a party to this.

The power the Obama administration holds over the supposedly independent media is staggering. They have presented Obama in the most favorable light possible, and have published world news in was that make their bias and partiality obvious to those who have witnessed the events they report, and can compare them to reality.

In contrast, but also in concert, the absolute power that the Chavez administration holds over the Venezuelan media, who self-censor everything they produce to avoid being shut down, produced a flood of biased and sometimes outright false information. This information was presented as truth, and world governments responded to the events in Honduras with universal condemnation.

Thus Manuel Zelaya was presented as a victim of the "political elite", Roberto Micheletti was labeled the "de-facto president" a "dictator", and Zelaya's ouster a "military coup", when it was the supreme court and congress who ordered his capture and sent the military to his door.

The events in Honduras became a litmus test between left and right, and insults were flung in both directions. It became impossible to have a reasoned discussion of the events, and suddenly, all articles needed to be treated with suspicion, whether the source was CNN, Reuters, AFP, the local media, The Wall Street Journal, or even the venerable BBC. On both sides of the political aisle, truth was ignored for political expediency.

News media, who because of the economic crisis could not investigate on their own, swallowed the articles provided to them by the international news wires, without qualm, as long as they bolstered their existing partiality, left or right.

An election that was planned under Manuel Zelaya's own administration was reported as being invalid for being organized by an "illegitimate" government. Political candidates, who were chosen months before the crisis, were branded as "coupsters" when if anything, they had the most to lose from a coup.

The result: a country isolated and punished in ways that other nations, who have insulted democracy and human rights much more, did not experience. Also a greatly heightened murder rate, and a great degree of anger.

For decades, unofficial executions have been taking place in Honduras. In the 1980s, the targets were leftists. In the 1990s the victims were sometimes environmentalists, like Jeannete Kawas. In the 2000s the victims were gang members. But even before the 2009 crisis, the victims became the journalists.

In October 2008, Carlos Salgado, a very popular radio journalist was murdered as he left work (3). He was critical of Manuel Zelaya's government. Colleagues of his were being sued for re-publishing an article from a Mexican journal that implicated the head of the state telecom in a scandal.

In December, an attempt on Carol Cabrera, another journalist critical of Manuel Zelaya, led to the death of her daughter. Roberto Micheletti was forced to retract his words when he attributed her death to the resistance. Also in December, Edwin Canaca, the son of a journalist who worked for the military, was murdered (4). In March, another attempt was made on Carol Cabrera's life, which led to the death of her colleague, Joseph Ochoa (5).

I have presented only the murders of journalists who have criticized Zelaya because these have not been publicized as much by the mainstream media (6). But, there have been many other journalists, who have written and spoken out in favor of Zelaya, who were also murdered.

The following is a quote from Human Rights Watch Letter to the Attorney General of Honduras Urging Investigation into Attacks on Coup Opponents (7)

"Julio Benitez, a member of the National Popular Resistance Front and the Union of Workers of the National Service of Aqueduct and Sewer Systems (Sindicato de Trabajadores del Servicio Nacional de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, SANAA), was shot by men on a motorcycle as he left his home on February 15. He died in the hospital shortly afterwards. Benitez's wife said he had received numerous threatening phone calls warning him to abandon his participation in opposition groups.

Hermes Reyes, a member of the "Movement of Artists in Resistance" and the "Broad Movement for Divinity and Justice," told Human Rights Watch he was leaving a meeting of the National Resistance Front on February 12 when a car drove towards him. A passenger emerged from the car and whipped him across the face with a wire cable. Reyes fell to the ground and his attacker said, "now we know where you are, you sons of whores."

The body of Vanesa Yánez, a member of the Union of Social Security Workers (Sindicato de Trabajadores del Seguro Social) and the National Popular Resistance Front, was reportedly dumped from a car on the night of February 3. According to witnesses interviewed by CODEH, her body had signs of torture.[3] Yánez's mother told HRW that her daughter had left the home the day before to buy some notebooks, and never returned.

Edgar Martinez, Carol Rivera, Johan Martinez, Meliza Rivera, and one other woman-all five of whom are active members of the National Popular Resistance Front-were abducted on February 10 and taken to an undisclosed location, according to testimony collected by a nongovernmental human rights organization, Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Honduras (Comité para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos en Honduras, CODEH). There, they reportedly were subjected to torture and two of the women were raped. According to victims' testimony, when they were set free, one of their captors said, "Pepe says hi," using the nickname of President Porfirio Lobo. The victims have since moved locations out of fear for their safety.

Claudia Larissa Brizuela was murdered in her home on February 24. Her father, Pedro Brizuela, is a prominent leader of the National Popular Resistance Front, of which she was also a member.
In addition to the attacks on members of the National Popular Resistance Front, we have also received a report of a politically-motivated attack on two journalists:

Manuel de Jesus Murillo from Globo TV and Ricardo Antonio Rodriguez from Noticiero Mi Nacion were reportedly detained on February 2 by plain-clothes men who identified themselves with police badges and told them to get into a car. According to testimony collected by CODEH, the men were then taken to a house where they were tortured and interrogated about arms possessed by the resistance. The journalists said they were told their families would be killed if they denounced their abuse."

The targeted murders of journalists are certainly not being perpetrated by Lobo's government. What motive could he have? What gain would he receive? But there are others who would gain, and who would have motive and means to target journalists. These are foreign entities who would benefit from further humiliation of Honduras and sanctions by the OAS, organized criminals who would prefer the government assign its limited resources to chasing the murderers of journalists instead of working to dismantle them, and powerful people with grudges.

All of them can operate freely, under the protection of a corrupt and completely ineffective Honduran justice system
 
 
 
 
 

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