Miami (December 6, 2011)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today roundly condemned the murder of an Honduran journalist and an attack on the Honduras newspaper La Tribuna in which a security guard was injured. It called on the authorities to carry out an exhaustive investigation into the incidents and punish those responsible.
This morning reporter Luz Marina Paz Villalobos from the television news station Cadena Hondureña de Noticias (CHN) was riddled with bullets in Tegucigalpa together with another person believed to have been her cameraman. According to initial reports Paz Villalobos, the owner of a local business, had received death threats from gang members for having refused to pay extortion for her protection. She and the person accompanying her were traveling in a vehicle owned by an officer of the Armed Forces when they were killed. The motives for the attack were not immediately known.
In another incident, unidentified persons shot at least 10 times at the building of the Tegucigalpa newspaper La Tribuna in the early hours of yesterday. Security guard José Manuel Izaguirre was shot three times during the incident. It is believed that the attack, carried out from a moving vehicle, was made in reprisal for publication of reports of investigations into the murder of two university students by members of the police force.
The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gustavo Mohme, offered his sympathy to the family and colleagues of the journalist and her cameraman, and those of the injured security guard. He condemned the attacks and issued a strong plea to the government of President Porfirio Lobo “to investigate and apply the full force of the law so as to ensure unfettered freedom of the press.”
Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, added, “These new attacks are part of a campaign of threats and other acts of intimidation aimed at editors and reporters of Honduran media that we have been denouncing” – a reference to a November 28 announcement in which the IAPA added its voice to the National Human Rights Commission’s demand that the government investigate reports of violence, protect the physical integrity of journalists and guarantee press freedom.
Following his abduction on August 1, 1977 during the military dictatorship in Uruguay the remains of journalist Julio Castro were discovered on October 21 this year in a piece of land occupied by the Army in Canelones province, 28 miles north of Montevideo. Castro, who was 68, was unlawfully detained, tortured and according a forensic examination was executed by a shot to the head, which contradicted the version that until now the military had given regarding this case.
The IAPA said that “with these new facts regarding the journalist’s disappearance and execution we feel the Uruguayan government must carry out an exhaustive investigation so as to bring those directly and indirectly responsible for the murder to justice.”
The IAPA also called on the Panamanian authorities to conduct an in-depth investigation into the murder on November 6 of Darío Fernández Jaén, owner of radio station Mi Favorita (My Favorite) in Penononé city in Coclé province. It was not immediately known whether the crime was connected to his work as a journalist.
Fernández Jaén hosted a commentary program in which just prior to his murder he had exposed corruption in the award of lands in the province. He had been the provincial governor on three occasions and also served as a deputy minister in the government.