Tag Archives: journalist

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.

Two more journalists murdered in Honduras

With the two radiomen who were shot dead near Juticalpa, coming from Catacamas, at 11:10 local time today, the total number of journalists murdered in Honduras in just this month has reached five (5!). When number 3 was shot I wrote that it started to look ugly. Now…

The murders took place in the departamento of Olancho, known for drug smuggling by airplane from Venezuela. The killers were riding in another car. As usual there is no clear indication of motive. The only common denominator in these 5 murders, on 4 occasions, is that it was a pre-planned attack carried out by several persons. The victims do not have a common political background. That is why I suspect the drug cartels.

Update 2010-03-28: One of the victims, Mairena, had recently done reporting on organized crime as well as the conflict over land ownership.

A third journalist murdered in Honduras in 2 weeks

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!

Media: SvD.

Another reporter murdered in Honduras – my hypothesis seems to hold

Update 2010-03-13: La Prensa reports today that the minister of security, Óscar Álvarez, is taking this case very seriously, in view of it being the second murder of a journalist in two weeks, and the fifth in a year. A special task force has been formed with detectives from both Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. The newspaper also describes how the situation for the press in Honduras has gradually deteriorated from the first murder of a journalist in 2003, after the return to democracy in 1981. From 2006 they consider that the situation has got gradually worse, with open hostility shown towards the press from some sectors of society.

If anything good can come of this, it may be that media starts focusing like a laser beam on crime and corruption, so that the people can get on the same page and start fighting, as one man, those who destroy the country. Yesterday I heard a Greek say about his country’s deep economical troubles that poverty stems from corruption, not the other way around. In both countries the medicine is thus the same: The people needs to stand shoulder to shoulder against any and all corruption. As long as there is corruption, crime cannot be defeated, and the murders will continue. It has come to the point in Honduras that it is a matter of life or death to stop corruption; the country has the highest murder rate in the world. This HAS to stop, and it has to stop NOW.

Original text 2010-03-12: A couple of weeks ago a reporter in Tegucigalpa, Joseph Ochoa, was shot dead in what presumably was an attack on his passenger, the more well-known reporter Karol Cabrera. Yesterday the reporter David Meza was shot dead in La Ceiba.

The latter murder seems to have as a common denominator with some others not politics, but drugs. This hypothesis I presented on my blog February 27, and what has happened since unfortunately just seems to confirm it.

Journalists in San Pedro Sula are now also suspecting that drug smugglers are responsible, since Meza had reported on narco-trafficking. These journalists, and others working with media, will be taking to the streets Monday in San Pedro Sula to ask the government to investigate the drug traffickers in Honduras with utmost urgency.

The drug czar of Honduras was murdered in November. One may suspect that the cartels are eliminating people who are opposing them, while at the same time killing a lot of other people to hide the pattern. What is more, by violating the human rights of those sympathizing with the opposition, and claiming to represent the president, they may even be fueling the political crisis according to the old principle of Divide and Conquer, although in a new variant.

The decision by the journalists to take to the streets is a hopeful sign, in that they are trying to unite all political sides against a perceived common enemy: The criminals, the multi-national drug cartels.

Reportrar Utan Gränser förolämpar mördad journalist i Honduras

Ursprunglig text 2010-03-01: Medan jag skrev den förra bloggposten genomförde de som kallar sig motståndsrörelsen ett attentat mot en journalist som varit kritisk mot dem, Karol Cabrera. Hon är sårad, men hennes kollega som skjutsade henne dog. Karols 16-åriga dotter mördades den 15 december förra året, nerskjuten av två personer på motorcykel. President Micheletti kallade då till en presskonferens i vilken han anklagade de som kallar sig motståndsrörelsen för mordet, och uppmanade de media som stödjer dem till att upphöra med sin hatkampanj.

Det går inte att två sina händer om man sprider hat. De som förmedlar hat via radio och TV har också blod på sina händer, även om de aldrig lämnar studion. Pennan är mäktigare än svärdet, men mikrofonen är ännu mäktigare.

Uppdatering 2010-03-03: Karol Cabrera sände live på radion då hon sköts. Sändningen kan höras här, klicka bara på bilden på bilen till höger (“Momento en que atentant contra Karol Cabrera”). La Prensa skriver att den ihjälskjutne var Joseph Ochoa, journalist på den privata kanalen “51”, men att attentatet säkert var riktat mot Cabrera, reporter på den statliga TV-kanalen Canal 8 och på den privata radiokanalen RCV. Mordet ägde rum på samma plats där Cabreras 16-åriga gravida dotter mördades den 15 december då hon färdades i en bil tillhörande Karol, och tillvägagångssättet var detsamma. De som kallar sig motståndsrörelsen har hotat henne därför att hon öppet stödjer högsta domstolens och kongressens avsättande av president Zelaya den 28 juni förra året.

Det kan därför inte råda något rimligt tvivel om att det var “de som kallar sig” som utförde bägge dessa mord, vilket även USAs ambassadör till Honduras Hugo Llorens säger, men trots det säger Reportrar Utan Gränser att man inte bör koppla detta mord till (den avstyrda) statskuppen förra året. Personligen tycker jag att Reportrar Utan Gränser (RSF) prostituerar sig när de så öppet tar politisk ställning för “de som kallar sig”. Fy skäms!

Som om inte detta vore nog så slår RSF salt i såren då de försöker vrida hela historien till att det är regeringen som förtrycker regeringskritiska journalister, och lite längre ner skriver om ett par reportrar på Radio Globo som valt att lämna landet. Det djupt förolämpande i detta är att det är just denna radiokanal som bedrivit den hatkampanj som med intill visshet gränsande sannolikhet lett till detta mord på en regeringsvänlig journalist. RSF har lyckats att förolämpa den mördade genom att i hans egen dödsruna vända sin sympati till dem med blod på sina händer!

Förresten rapporteras att Karol Cabrera är allvarligt skadad men att läget är stabilt.

Addendum: Human Rights Watch skrev idag (3 mars) till Honduras riksåklagare och uppmanade honom att undersöka brott med misstänkta politiska förtecken mot regeringsfientliga personer, inklusive de två från Radio Globo, men nämner ingenting om ovanstående mord eller andra politiska brott mot de som stödjer regeringen. Tyvärr gör det att organisationen inte längre framstår som ojävig, utan att de bara bryr sig om mänskliga rättigheter för de personer som delar deras politiska uppfattning. Därmed blir de helt irrelevanta.