The Press

Honduras Table of Contents

Freedom of speech and the press are guaranteed by the Honduran constitution, and in practice these rights are generally respected. Nevertheless, as noted in the United States Department of State's 1992 human rights report, the media are subject to both corruption and politicization, and there have been instances of selfcensorship , allegations of intimidation by military authorities, and payoffs to journalists. In a scandal that came to light in January 1993, a Honduran newspaper published an internal document from the National Elections Tribunal (Tribunal Nacional de Elecciones--TNE) that listed authorized payments to thirteen journalists. Observers maintain that numerous governmental institutions, including municipalities, the National Congress, the various ministries, and the military, have been involved in paying journalists for stories; some estimate that more than 50 percent of journalists receive payoffs. Another significant problem in the media has been self-censorship in reporting on sensitive issues, especially the military. Intimidation in the form of threats, blacklisting, and violence also occurred at various times in the 1980s and early 1990s.

According to some analysts, however, despite instances of military intimidation of the press in early 1993, the media, including the press, radio, and television, has played an important role in creating an environment conducive to the public's open questioning and criticism of authorities. Honduran sociologist Leticia Salomón has observed that in early 1993 the media, including newspaper caricatures, played an instrumental role in mitigating the fear of criticizing the military, and he asserts that this diminishment of fear was an important step in the building of a democratic culture in Honduras.

Honduras has five daily national newspapers, three based in Tegucigalpa--El Periódico, La Tribuna and El Heraldo--and two based in San Pedro Sula--El Tiempo and La Prensa. Quite conservative in its outlook, El Periódico has former president Callejas as its principal stockholder. Owned by PLH leader and businessperson Jaime Rosenthal (who placed second in the PLH presidential primary for the 1993 national election), the left-of-center El Tiempo has been the newspaper most prone to criticize the police and military, for which its editor, Manuel Gamero, has at times been jailed. In February 1993, a bomb exploded at the home of the newspaper's business manager after the paper gave refuge to a reporter, Eduardo Coto, who had witnessed the assassination of a San Pedro Sula businessperson, Eduardo Pina, in late January 1993. Coto alleged that Pina had been killed by two former members of the notorious Battalion 3-16, a military unit reportedly responsible for numerous disappearances in the early 1980s. After alleged death threats from military members, Coto fled to Spain, where he received asylum.

La Tribuna and La Prensa are considered centrist papers by some observers, although some might put La Prensa into the more conservative center-right category. La Tribuna, which is owned by Carlos Flores Facusse (the unsuccessful 1989 presidential candidate), has close ties to the PLH and to the new industrial sector of Tegucigalpa. La Prensa has close ties with the business section of San Pedro Sula. Its president and editor is Jorge Canahuati Larach, whose family also publishes El Heraldo, a conservative paper that has been more favorable to the military in its reporting than other dailies and often reflects the positions of the PNH.

In addition to the five dailies, Honduras also has numerous smaller publications. Most significantly, the Honduran Documentation Center (Centro de Documentación de Honduras--Cedoh), run by the widely respected political analyst Victor Meza, publishes a monthly Boletín Informativo; and Cedoh and the sociology department of UNAH publish Puntos de Vista, a magazine dedicated to social and political analysis. In addition, an English-language weekly paper, Honduras This Week, covers events in Honduras and in Central America.

More about the Government and Politics of Honduras.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress