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News blackout in Honduras after Army stages coup d’état, ousts President Manuel Zelaya

News blackout in Honduras after Army stages coup d’état, ousts President Manuel Zelaya
Supporters of ousted Honduras' President Manuel Zelaya set up barricades near to the presidential house in Tegucigalpa, June 29, 2009. Honduras' new leaders defied growing global pressure to reverse a military coup, arguing that they had followed their constitution in removing President Manuel Zelaya.

Honduras President Manuel Zelaya’s ouster Sunday by the Army has been followed by a curfew during which the broadcasts of several radio and TV stations were suspended, Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has reported.

As soon as the curfew had been decreed, the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) notified cable TV operators of a ban on broadcasting certain international TV stations such as Telesur, Cubavisión Internacional and CNN Español. The broadcasts of Radio Globo and several other stations were also either interrupted or shut down.

In the provinces, 25 soldiers stormed into the studios of Radio Progreso, a station affiliated to the Latin American Association of Radio Education, four hours after the coup and forced the staff to stop all work. In a statement, station manager Ismael Moreno said the intervention of local residents prevented more serious violence. Still in the military’s sights, Radio Progreso has not yet resumed broadcasting.

“We condemn a coup against a democratically-elected president on principle, especially as it raises concern about respect for basic freedoms including press freedom,” Paris-based RSF said. “The suspension or closure of local and international broadcast media indicates that the coup leaders want to hide what is happening. The Organisation of American States and the international community must insist that this news blackout is lifted.”

The coup and Roberto Micheletti’s subsequent installation by congress as the new president prompted demonstrations in support of the ousted president. Members of the Association of Taxis of Honduras who were staging a demonstration in Tegucigalpa attacked a photographer with the daily El Heraldo, throwing stones at him and then beating and kicking him as he lay on the ground.

RSF said, “Honduran journalists already suffer from the high level of violent crime in normal times. We also appeal to the media to act responsibly at this difficult moment. They should refrain from fuelling a polarisation in public opinion that could expose journalists to more reprisals.”

Date posted: June 29, 2009 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 386