The murder of Luis Arturo Mondragón Morazán, the head of the Canal 19 TV station and producer of its “Teleprensa” TV news programme, in the southern town of El Paraíso on 14 June brings the number of Honduran journalists murdered since the start of this year to eight. As in most of the other cases, the motive has yet to be determined.
“We obviously hope to soon learn more about the motive for this murder and who did it,” Reporters Without Borders said. “But the absence of any link with the victim’s journalistic activity – if confirmed – should not divert attention from the political violence that has been sapping the country since the June 2009 coup d’état and its tragic consequences for press freedom, and the fact that impunity continues to be the rule.”
Aged 51, Mondragón was leaving the TV station’s studios when he was shot several times by two men in a car and died instantly. The police are reportedly working on the theory that the murder was an act of revenge linked to his personal life. He had been the target of several complaints including a rape allegation.
This latest murder confirms Honduras’ status as the world’s most dangerous country for jouranalists in the first half of 2010, which is likely to prompt more of them to try to leave. Canal 8 TV presenter Karol Cabrera, the target of a shooting attack in March that killed fellow journalist Joseph Ochoa, has just been granted political asylum in Canada.
For the time being, the only one of these eight murdered journalists who has been added to the Reporters Without Borders press freedom barometer is Televisora de Aguán-Canal 5 news director Nahum Palacios Arteaga, who was gunned down on 14 March after being the target of serious threats believed to have come from the army. Meanwhile, there has never been any let-up in the harassment and threats against the staff of news media opposed to last year’s coup.