Drug cartels behind journalist murders in Honduras: Analysis

In this month alone – a month that has not yet ended – five (5!) members of the press have been murdered in Honduras. They were all gunned down by multiple perpetrators. Politically the crimes targeted journalists on all sides of the political spectrum. So why?

I have an hypothesis. In late February it started to become clear to more and more members of the press and bloggers that the murders that appeared to be political really were carried out by the drug cartels. Even I blogged about that, February 27th. The discourse took hold in Honduran press.

March 1st came the first murder of a journalist this year in Honduras: Joseph Ochoa. It seemed to be a political murder since the apparent target (who survived) had been targeted before, at which time her pregnant daughter was murdered instead. Her colleague died this time. Cabrera had come out in strong support of interim president Micheletti.

On March 11 David Meza was gunned down in La Ceiba. After this, the Honduran press strongly came out accusing the drug cartels of being behind it.

Within days, on March 14, a third journalist was shot to death, Nahúm Palacios, in Tocoa. He has killed on the eve of a demonstration against the drug cartel violence that the press had planned.

March 26 brought the violent death of two more members of the media, Bayardo Mairena and Manuel Juárez. They were killed in an area where there are many drug-carrying airplanes doing illegal landings to offload cocaine. Mairena had recently reported on organized crime on radio.

You don’t need to be an Einstein to see what is going on. Honduran press and bloggers understand that the security forces are compromised by corrupt persons, bought by the criminals. When the media report facts about crimes, it is inconvenient for criminals and corrupt policemen alike. It is so easy for the police to pretend to be death squads like in the 1980’s, pretend to murder for political reasons to pass the blame on the government and the president, while in reality they are working for the drug lords.

However, their scheme has been unmasked. It worked for a few months, during which much of the world believed that the country was an evil dictatorship, the human rights defenders spreading the intended message to the world. But no more. The truth is getting out there, and the drug cartels have only one strategy left: To murder the press.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is my analysis of why we have seen this unprecedented killing spree on journalists in the month of March in Honduras.

Media: Inside Costa Rica.