The Honduran press has been slowly sinking into nightmarish disaster for more than a decade, following a coup in 2009. For journalists, the country is one of the most murderously dangerous in the Americas.
Media pluralism is endangered by multinational corporate ownership of major media and political class ownership of smaller media. The country’s major papers are La Prensa, El Heraldo, and La Tribuna.
Presidential elections in November 2021 saw a decisive victory for left-wing opposition candidate Xiomara Castro of the Partido Libre. The result marked the end of a decade in power – three presidential terms – for the Partido Nacional. However, legislative elections held at the same time did not give Libre a parliamentary majority. Consequently, it will have to negotiate with the other parties, in a tense political atmosphere, to see through its social reform agenda. Collusion between the media and part of the political class amounts to an obstacle to freedom of expression.
In a country ravaged by organized-crime violence, and corruption, the level of impunity is one of the highest in the region. Journalists are regularly subject to unfounded prosecution. Prison terms for defamation are common, in some cases coupled with prohibitions on continuing to work in journalism. A new penal code, adopted in 2020, contains draconian provisions, notably criminalising demonstrations and meetings. The code constitutes a threat to press freedom.
Honduras has one of the highest rates of inequality in Latin America. Its agriculture-based economy is very open. The United States is the country’s main trading partner.
Journalists are regularly assaulted, targeted for harassment and intimidation campaigns, subjected to death threats, and forced into exile. Most of the abuse and violence comes from security forces, especially the military police and army.