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Honduras: 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 April 27 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,” Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) 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 organisation 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 March 13 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 April 7 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 April 16 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.

Date posted: April 29, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 47