The attempt to ambush a radio station director in San Pedro Sula on 27 April has been followed by other attacks on opposition journalists in the same city. In the most serious case, Globo TV cameraman Uriel Rodríguez sustained head and chest injuries at the hands of the police during student protests on 6 May. His camera was also smashed.
Shortly after Rodríguez was taken to a hospital, four officials tried to arrest them there. After he had received treatment and his condition had been stabilized, colleagues reportedly removed him from the hospital and took him to a secret location. Rodríguez had previously been injured in the leg by a teargas grenade fired by police during a demonstration in Tegucigalpa on 21 March.
According to the Honduran Committee for Free Expression (C-Libre), Rodríguez and two other journalists – Noel Flores of Globo TV and Silvia Ardón of Radio Uno – were harassed by the police on 5 May when they tried to find out what had happened to detained protesters. It was Radio Uno’s director, Arnulfo Aguilar, who was the targeted of the 27 April ambush.
“The vicious cycle of harassment and impunity has reached a new, outrageous level with this attempt to go after a journalist in the very place where he was being treated,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The authorities clearly bear full responsibility in this new case. The mindset of the June 2009 coup d’état has not changed. There will be no reconciliation in Honduras until justice has been rendered to its victims.”
29.04.11 - Another attempted attack on opposition radio station journalist
Arnulfo Aguilar, the director of Radio Uno, an educational radio station based in San Pedro Sula, narrowly escaped an armed ambush outside his home on the outskirts of the city on the night of 27 April which he blames on the army. A station that supports the opposition National Front for Popular Resistance, Radio Uno has often been targeted by the security forces since the June 2009 coup d’état.
Ten masked gunmen were waiting for Aguilar as he arrived home after leaving the station. After spotting them, he managed to elude them by taking a different route into his house. Some of the gunmen nonetheless got into the yard but fled after hearing him call his neighbours and the police for help. The police reportedly waited more than an hour before responding.
Shortly before leaving the radio station, Aguilar spoke on the air about a US defence department cable released by WikiLeaks that accused the Honduran army of selling arms to drug cartels in Colombia and Mexico. Aguilar described the ambush as an attempt to murder him in reprisal for reporting the allegations on Radio Uno.
“The ordeal continues for the opposition and community media,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Given the past threats and attacks by the security forces against Radio Uno, there is every reason to suspect that they were behind this latest attack on its founder and director, because of what it had just reported.”
The press freedom organization added: “We express our full support for Aguilar and the rest of Radio Uno’s staff. The Inter-American institutions and the international community must demand that the Honduran authorities carry out a thorough investigation to determine the degree of involvement of the security forces in this ambush.”
Three other media representatives have been the targets of attacks or acts of sabotage, in certain cases involving their home or property, in the past two months:
- Franklin Meléndez, the head of community radio station La Voz de Zacate Grande, was shot and wounded on 13 March by a man who identified himself as an ally of businessman landowner Miguel Facussé Barjum. The police asked the station “not to make a fuss,”
- The home of Alfredo López, the head of Afro-Honduran community radio station Radio Faluma Bimetu (Radio Coco Dulce), was torched on the night of 7 April in the wake of several serious attacks on the station which forced it off the air for a while.
- Pedro Canales, an agricultural community leader and journalist with La Voz de Zacate Grande, discovered on 16 April that his car had been sabotaged. This act of sabotage was followed by death threats and physical and judicial harassment aimed at silencing the station.
All these cases remain unpunished. The attacks on journalists with other opposition media that took place during recent demonstrations by teachers also all remain unpunished.