News

September 7, 2009 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Media in coup storm


- The head of the preventive police, Carlos Rubí Fuentes, has denied Radio América’s claim that an arson attack on its transmitters interrupted its broadcasts, C-Libre reports. Speaking on 4 September, the police chief confirmed that a Radio América security guard was attacked but he insisted that the transmitters had continued to work properly. ------------- - According to local news reports, Radio América’s transmitters in Olanchito, about 500 km northeast of Tegucigalpa, were damaged in a pre-dawn arson attack on 1 September. One of the country’s leading radio stations, Radio América supports the de facto government that took over after the 28 June coup d’état. The daily La Tribuna said the attack was the work of several men who overpowered a security guard before setting fire to the transmitters. No one was injured by the fire.
It was a Radio América correspondent, Gabriel Fino Noriega, who was shot dead in the northern town of San Juan Pueblo on 3 July. His killers have still not been identified. -------------- - A group of masked gunmen destroyed the transmitters of Radio Globo and Canal 36 in Canta Gallo, in the central department of Francisco Morazán, on the night of 23 August, the Honduras Committee for Free Expression (C-Libre) reports. Esdras Amado López, the head of Canal 36, and David Romero, the head of Radio Globo, said their broadcasts were interrupted on 24 August as a result of the sabotage. After threatening to kill a guard if he tried to call the police, the gunmen went directly to where the transmitters are located and poured abrasive chemical products over them, López said. Both stations have been in the de facto government’s sights ever since the coup and both have had their broadcasts cut several times.
- C-Libre also reports that the Maya TV programme “Hable como Habla,” was interrupted as a result of damage to electrical equipment. The head of Maya TV, Eduardo Maldonado, said power surges have damaged much of the station’s studio equipment. -------------- - Police attacked Honduran and foreign journalists in Tegucigalpa on 30 July while dispersing demonstrators protesting against the 28 June coup d’état, the Honduras Committee for Free Expression (C-Libre) has reported.
Reporter Karen Mendéz of the Caracas-based international TV station Telesur told C-Libre that police officers pushed her and threatened to kill her. She said the order was given to fire on the media. Her cameraman, Roger Guzman, was hit and the video he had filmed was confiscated.
Maya TV cameramen José Oseguera and Luis Andrés Bustillo were also hit by police in Durazno, an area to the north of the capital.
Edgardo Castro of Televisora Hondureña de Comayagua was arrested while filming police disperse protesters, C-Libre said. His equipment was damaged.
- Radio Globo, one of the few Honduran broadcast media still criticising the de facto government, reported on 4 August that it could be forced to shut down as a result of a complaint brought before the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) by lawyer José Santos López Oviedo on behalf of the armed forces. The complaint accuses the station of “sedition” and openly urging citizens to revolt. ----------------- - Police arrested several journalists employed by the Caracas-based Latin American satellite TV station Telesur and the Venezuelan public TV station VTV on 12 July for identity checks. The journalists said they were “taken into police custody.” A representative of the de facto government told AFP it was “just an investigation by the immigration services.” Broadcasting of Telesur in Honduras was suspended on 28 June, a few minutes after the start of the coup that ousted President Zelaya. Telesur journalists Adriana Sivori, Maria Jose Diaz and Larry Sanchez were arrested for several hours on 29 June. - The de facto government is putting pressure on the media. Radio and TV stations must now interrupt their programming to broadcast all of its messages. --------------- Journalist Rommel Gomez was arrested by soldiers during a demonstration in support of ousted President Manuel Zelaya on 2 July and was held for an hour. He was photographed and forced to identify himself during his arrest. Carlos Rivera, Radio América’s correspondent in the western town of Santa Rosa de Copán, was physically attacked by pro-Zelaya demonstrators on 1 July. All the media personnel stopped covering the demonstration after the attack on Rivera, which was the second attack on a journalist during the protest. Zelaya supporters also attacked Maribel Chinchilla, the owner of the Canal 34 TV station, in Santa Rosa de Copán. According to the Honduras Free Expression Committee (C-Libre), soldiers burst into the studios of the Canal 5 TV station as it was broadcasting content in support of President Zelaya’s return. C-Libre also reported that the military invited the news media in the Colón region to a meeting and told them to broadcast information provided by de facto President Micheletti’s government and to refrain from criticising President Zelaya’s removal if they wanted to avoid being closed down. ---------------- Journalists Patricia Arias of Canal 8, Allan McDonald of the daily El Heraldo, Aníbal Barrow of Hondured and Esdras Amado López, the owner of the Canal 36 television station, are not missing, as initially feared. They just decided to lay low because of the ongoing political crisis. The Honduras Free Expression Committee (C-Libre) reports that Canal 36 resumed broadcasting on 4 July, six days after it was forced off the air when soldiers stormed its headquarters. ---------------------- - The de facto government announced on 1 July that certain fundamental constitutional guarantees are now suspended during curfew hours (10 p.m. to 5 a.m.). They include freedom of assembly and association, freedom of movement and the right to domestic inviolability. The 72-hour limit on the time a person can be held in police custody has also been suspended. - Canal 36, a TV station that was closed by the military on 28 June, the day of the coup, was due to resume broadcasting on 3 July. - Six journalists have been missing or have been in hiding since the day of the coup: Mónica Ceoane of Telesur, cartoonist Allan McDonald, Esdras Amado López of Canal 36, Patricia Arias of Canal 8 , Jesús Ochoa and Aníbal Barrow of Hondured. - Radio Globo resumed broadcasting on 29 June but is continuing to have problems. The soldiers who have been stationed outside the station since 28 June were upset by an interview with ousted President Manuel Zelaya and suspended broadcasting for 20 minutes. Owner Alejandro Villatoro managed to negotiate a resumption of broadcasting but another 25-minute interruption ensued. -------------- -Radio América has reported that a fragmentation grenade was thrown at the Tegucigalpa building that houses the station on the night of 30 June but did not go off. The police were summoned and detonated the grenade. - The San Pedro Sula-based TV station Canal 6 was shut down for 15 minutes while broadcasting footage of the coup. It then resumed its usual programming - sensationalist coverage of crime stories. - The pro-Zelaya TV station Canal 36, owned by journalist Esdras Amado López, has been shut down since 28 June. Amado has gone into hiding. - The TV station Canal 11 has not broadcast any reports about the coup since it was raided by soldiers. - Journalists working for the daily La Prensa were targeted by a demonstration in San Pedro Sula in support of ousted President Manuel Zelaya. The police took up positions around the newspaper’s office as the demonstrators headed towards it. - Police units stationed themselves around the headquarters of Corporación Televicentro, the country’s leading TV station, on 29 June to protect it against a demonstration by Zelaya supporters. - Zelaya supporters have criticised the following news media: the San Pedro Sula-based daily La Prensa, the Tegucigalpa-based dailies La Tribuna and El Heraldo, the national TV station Corporación Televicentro, and the national radio stations Radio América et Emisoras Unidas HRN. - Corporación Televicentro’s TN5 news programme reported on the evening of 30 June that police were stationed around the headquarters of Radio América because of the threat of demonstrations and because explosive devices had been thrown at it. - Zelaya supporters are only allowing the international press to cover their demonstrations and have attacked several freelance journalists working for local media. On 29 June, the head of Canal 42, Emma Calderón, criticised demonstrators for attacking one of her reporters and one of her cameramen, and destroying his camera. A cameraman working for the US TV station Univisión was also attacked in the same manner. - Eduardo Maldonado, the producer of the Maya TV news programmes “Hable como Habla” and “Interpretando la Noticia”, who is also a former presidential candidate and a critic of Roberto Micheletti (the de facto acting president), has sought asylum in the US embassy because he feared reprisals. - Jhony Lagos, the editor of the monthly El Libertador, told Reporters Without Borders he has received anonymous threatening calls on his mobile phone because of his criticism of the de facto government. He also said that, a week ago, he received a summons for promoting Zelaya’s referendum. “I hope that, after this coup, they won’t turn on us because we criticised the capitalist system,” he said. --------------------- - A few minutes after the coup d’état got under way on 28 June, there was a power outage that lasted five hours and silenced all of the country’s radio and TV stations. Since then, most TV stations have just been broadcasting cartoons and soap operas. The public TV station Canal 8, whose broadcasts had stopped on 28 June, has now resumed normal programming. - Soldiers went to the headquarters of the daily El Tiempo and the TV station Canal 11 in San Pedro Sula on 28 June and insisted that the journalists stop relaying information coming from members of ousted President José Manuel Zelaya’s government, - Several journalists with the international TV station Telesur and the daily La Prensa have talked of censorship by military officers who asked them to “moderate” their coverage. Soldiers also threatened to arrest them if they continued to broadcast footage or print photos of the demonstrations in support of Zelaya. - Around 10 soldiers stormed into the Marriot Hotel in Tegucigalpa on 29 June as foreign journalists were transmitting footage of a demonstration from their room. The soldiers arrested Argentine journalist Nicolas Garcia, Peruvian journalist Esteban Felix and two Nicaraguans who work for the Associated Press as assistants. They were taken to the Immigration Bureau where their visas were checked and where they were released an hour and a half later after explaining they were journalists. Adriana Sivori, Maria Jose Diaz and Larry Sanchez of Telesur were also detained and then freed. - Two TV stations, Canal 66 Maya TV and Canal 36, were ordered to stop broadcasting on 28 June without being told when they could resume. - According to Radio Progreso journalist Félix Molina, the military are threatening to shut down news media if they refer to President Zelaya’s removal as a “coup d’état.” (Photo : AFP)