This past month, Honduras has witnessed an unprecedented series of attacks on journalists: five journalists were killed in March alone, making the country, along with Mexico, one of the two deadliest countries in the Western Hemisphere for reporters this year.
On the first day of the month, gunmen opened fire on TV journalists Joseph Ochoa and Karol Cabrera, killing Ochoa and seriously wounding Cabrera. Cabrera is a prominent journalist and commentator, and her outspoken support for last summer’s military-led coup has made her family the target of violent attacks in the past: her teenage daughter, who was eight months pregnant, was murdered in December of last year.
On March 11, gunmen in a van pulled up to the car of radio journalist David Meza Montesinos and opened fire, killing Montesinos.
TV journalist Nahúm Palacios Arteaga was killed on March 14. According to Reporters Without Borders, “Palacios and one of his colleagues had received threatening phone calls in which they were told to stop ‘defending the poor.'” Following this summer’s coup, his home and office were raided and his equipment was confiscated.
On March 26, Friday of last week, the car in which radio journalists Bayardo Mairena and Manuel Juárez were traveling was sprayed with bullets by gunmen, who then shot them at close range. Their deaths brought the number of reporters assassinated in March to five.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, there doesn’t seem to be any clear political motivation for the attacks: some of the victims supported the military coup and interim-president Roberto Micheletti, some had been critical of the coup, others had no strong political leanings. US news outlets have largely ignored the story, leaving the task of getting the word out about the attacks to international journalist rights organizations. The murder of five journalists in a month is a big story, no matter how you look at it, but the media’s lack of coverage is all the more surprising for the fact that the assault of Cabrera that resulted in Ochoa’s death was caught on tape. As she was driving with Ochoa, Cabrera speaking on air on a radio show, so that the attack was broadcast live, gunshots, screaming, and all. But beyond this gruesome evidence, the slew of attacks have created an environment in which journalists are afraid to do their jobs, and the American media should be reporting this assault on the freedom of information.
Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons, user LeRoc.