It is starting to look ugly. Five journalists murdered the past year, and three already this year: On March 1st, 11th, and now 14th. The latest journalist victim of the rampant crime in the Central American country was Nahúm Palacios, shot dead by two men armed with AK-47 near his home in Tocoa.
Palacios was the news director of a local TV station. The murder took place Sunday night as he was returning home.
Tocoa is a city in lower Aguán, and the center for the farm occupations in recent months (see La Prensa’s videos in Spanish). It is about 30 km downstream of Sabá, where Sweden built a 450 m long bridge after hurricane Mitch, the longest bridge in Honduras (coincidentally, yours truly picked that length).
There are reports in media that these occupations is more than what first meets the eye. They reportedly have heavy arms, receive training from the FARC narco-guerilla in Colombia, and monetary support from either drug smugglers, Hugo Chávez, or both. A few days ago they failed to occupy a factory for palm oil, which they attacked at 5 AM, since a group of militaries on the way to buy bananas by chance passed by. Even though only a few of the soldiers were armed it was enough to swing the balance of the battle in favor of the guards defending the place.
These land occupiers have shown over and over again that they do not like media attention, for instance by shooting at journalists who enter the palm tree plantations. If they had had peaceful intentions, wouldn’t they have welcomed media attention? What is it that they wish to hide?
The police has not yet said anything to my knowledge about the reason for this latest murder, if it had anything to do with his work. However, regardless of the reason in this specific case, it is clear that media should look closely at the development in lower Aguán, since the peace could be threatened by the developments in that sector.
Perhaps a serious injustice was made there in the 90’s, I don’t know, but I do know that two wrongs don’t make one right. If they have a legitimate complaint then the government should take them seriously, but ONLY as long as they don’t go outside the law themselves. Starting a guerilla is a very counter-productive move, and in my opinion it is as certain as Amen in the church that Chávez is behind it. One may wonder if it is not time to start treating Hugo Chávez the same way we treat Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong-il. Venezuela is rather obviously a state sponsor of terrorism by now. The farmers in lower Aguán are well advised to stay as far away from Chávez, FARC, and drug cartels as possible, and to inform the security forces of any foreign infiltrators in the area. Only death and destruction will come from letting this continue to escalate.
To all journalists, reporters, bloggers, and you who write in social media: You can honor Palacios’s memory by continuing to report the truth, now more than ever. For every journalist that is silenced, let there be a hundred more who takes up the torch and spreads the news!