Nahúm Palacios, the news editor of local TV station Televisora de Aguán-Canal 5, was killed in a hail of bullets on 14 March in Tocoa, a town near the Atlantic coast 400 km north of the capital, becoming the third journalist to be gunned down in Honduras in the past two weeks.
Aged 34, Palacios was ambushed and shot in his car. More than 40 bullet impacts were found in the vehicle and around 30 in his body. A cameraman and another person in the vehicle were injured in the shooting.
The murder bears the hallmarks of organised crime, especially as it occurred in a region where drug traffickers are active. Some sources also described Palacios’ political situation as delicate. Since last June’s coup d’état, he had been mistreated and humiliated on several occasions by soldiers, who confiscated his equipment, the Committee for Free Expression (C-Libre) said.
C-Libre also reported that Palacios and one of his colleagues had received threatening phone calls in which they were told to stop “defending the poor.”
Palacios’ murder came just three days after radio journalist David Meza Montesinos was slain in a similar fashion in the same region and 13 days after TV journalist Joseph Ochoa was killed in a shooting in Tegucigalpa.
Honduras is now second only to Mexico as the western hemisphere’s deadliest country for journalists.
Photo : Wordpress
12.03.2010 - Radio journalist gunned down on Atlantic coast after suspected drug cartel threats
Radio journalist David Meza Montesinos last night became the second Honduran journalist to be murdered since the start of the year, following the fatal shooting of TV journalist Joseph Ochoa of Canal 51 on 1 March.
Meza was shot by unidentified gunmen in an ambush near his home in the Atlantic coast city of La Ceiba, where he worked for local radio station El Patio as well as for Radio América, a national station, and Abriendo Brecha, a TV station. An often controversial journalist, he reported getting threats three weeks ago after a report about drug trafficking.
In the absence of a clear motive, Reporters Without Borders urges those investigating his murder to give priority to the possibility that it was linked to these threats. Drug cartels nowadays pose the biggest danger to the western hemisphere’s media and the Honduran Atlantic coast serves as a major way-station for traffickers.
The entire Honduran press has paid tribute to Meza, who owed his popularity to his coverage of sports events and the fact that, after Hurricane Katrina, he was sent to New Orleans, where he was the Honduran media’s only representative. Aged 51, he had worked for El Patio for the past 30 years.
The situation continues to be very alarming in Honduras, where a high level of violent crime has been compounded by human rights violations since the June 2009 coup. Reporters Without Borders is shocked by retired army general Romeo Vásquez Velásquez’s very inappropriate appointment on 8 March to head the national telecommunications company Hondutel.
It is unthinkable that Gen. Vásquez should not be called to account for the human rights violations that took place during the coup, in which he played a key part. Putting him in charge of Hondutel after the army acted as censor at the time of the coup is a political mistake that sends a very negative signal to the opposition media. It also sits poorly with President Porfirio Lobo declared desire to reconcile the deeply-divided country.