In these past six months the work of the press has been carried out in a climate of threats, intimidations and legal actions in which there have been shutdowns of news media outlets, physical attacks upon journalists and rulings limiting freedom of the press. In this period the murders of three journalists were reported: On March 13 Liberal Party politician and journalist Bernardo Rivera was kidnapped as he headed to La Protección neighborhood in Concepción del Norte, Santa Bárbara. His remains were discovered on July 9 in the Buena Vista district of Florida, Copán province. Police have been unable to establish the real reason for the murder. Rivera was a congressman in the prior Legislature and at the time of his abduction he was engaged in coffee growing. On March 31 Radio Cadena Voces correspondent Santiago Rafael Mungía was murdered. He was shot eight times. According to police reports the murder occurred in the Medina neighborhood of San Pedro Sula after he received a call on his cell phone. To date the reasons for his death are unknown. On July 3 Gabriel Fino Noriega, 51, correspondent of Radio América in San Juan Pueblo, Atlántida province, was killed. This occurred as he was leaving Radio Estelar, where he hosted a program. Reports gathered by the National Human Rights Office show that the killing could be linked to his exposure of unlawful gambling at community fairs. Freedom of expression in this period showed a regrettable deterioration, especially after the coup of June 28 that led to the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya Rosales. The work of journalists became difficult, under exceptional circumstances, amid suspension of constitutional guarantees, threats, aggression and intimidation by groups of supporters of the two sides in conflict. Nobody escaped from the attacks on the news media – photographers, cameramen, technical personnel, reporters, editors and even media publishers and presidents were victims. The sides in conflict, particularly the supporters of Zelaya, unleashed a campaign of denigration and persecution of independent media, editors and journalists, displayed. There were numerous insults hurled at media owners and journalists, using any outlet available, from the Internet to the walls of public and private buildings. The attacks were also being made before the July 28 coup, the news media being subjected to harsh criticism by various political figures, including the president, cabinet ministers and officials. Zelaya would often question the independent media, calling them “factual powers” in the so-called Citizen Power assemblies, where he would promote his proposal for journalists. The interim manager of the state agency Honduran Telecommunications Company (Hondutel), Marcelo Chimirri, took to court a dozen journalists for their having exposed acts of corruption. Nelson Garcia, managing editor of Diario La Prensa of San Pedro Sula is still facing a complaint of libel and “calumnia,” or false accusation of a crime, brought by Mr. Chimirri. An oral hearing is set for November 13 on the charge of publicizing the former official´s dubious background. Discrimination in placement of official advertising was also a way to attack media outlets that denounced public corruption. Beginning in the second half of 2008 and up to June 2009, according to IAPA reports, the executive branch waged a campaign against the independent media, attacking them, questioning them and discrediting them. On one occasion Zelaya warned a radio reporter to be grateful that he was not Hugo Chávez, otherwise he would have shut down his radio. He also reproached and vilified state bodies that failed to support his proposal to call a constituent assembly. May and June were already presaging a storm against the media. On May 15 journalist Tomás Armando Villanueva Menjivar, who works for Canal 10 television and writes a column in the newspaper El Heraldo, complained of being followed and threatened by government agents. That day unidentified assailants kidnapped journalist Andrés Torres, 72, host of the nightly program “Tegucigalpa de Noche” (Nighttime Tegucigalpa) broadcast by radio network HRN, following a heated clash between the executive branch and groups opposed to it over a poll to call for a constituent assembly. He was freed 18 days later. Those responsible got a big ransom and were not punished. Torres attributed his abduction to common criminals. On June 8 a number of armed men burst into the Hondudiario offices after shooting down the front door. In the office they proceeded to cut the cables giving access to the Internet. This was the second assault in less than 15 days. Editor Aristides Aceituno blamed the incident on Zelaya government officials. On June 25 journalist Fernando Berrios, news editor of El Heraldo, reported that two armed men contacted an employee of the newspaper, sending a message with him warning that they already knew about his family and the places he used to frequent. On June 27 the managing editor of El Heraldo, Carlos Mauricio Flores, reported having received death threats by e-mail and in text messages on his cell phone. Between June 23 and 27 Renato Alvarez, host of the program “Frente a Frente” (Face to Face) broadcast every morning by Canal 5 and Canal 7 television, said that he was subjected to threats and harassment by groups supporting the idea of a national constituent assembly. On June 27 a self-styled “Citizen Commando” circulated on the Internet a list of 11 journalists identified as “enemies of the Honduran people” and calling for action against them. On the list were: Renato Álvarez, Canal 5, “Frente a Frente;” Dagoberto Rodríguez, director of Radio Cadena Voces; Armando Villanueva, Canal 10; Luis Edgardo Vallejo, director of Radio América; Juan Carlos Barahona, director of radio station HRN; Carlos Mauricio Flores, managing editor of El Heraldo; Fernando Berríos, newseditor of El Heraldo; Rodrigo Wong Arévalo, Canal 10; Adán Elvir, editor of La Tribuna; María Antonia Martínez de Fuentes, editor of La Prensa and Danilo Izaguirre, an HRN reporter. On the morning of Sunday, June 28 members of the Armed Forces raided the installations of several electronic media, moments after President Zelaya was overthrown and ousted from the country. The action took place in the capital, Tegucigalpa, in El Progeso and in Yoro, against media supporting the ousted president, such as Radio Globo and Canal 36. Broadcasts of several media were suspended, some because of military occupation and others by having their electricity cut off. Meanwhile, some journalists received death threats; others were assaulted, both by demonstrators and by security police officers. The operations of Radio Globo were suspended for several hours. However, Canal 36 journalists and the owner, Esdras López, abandoned the building given the military presence, resuming broadcasting three days later. The signals of privately-owned television channels Canal 6, Canal 11, Maya TV and Canal 36 in Tegucigalpa, La Cumbre and Televisora in Aguán, and Canal 5 in Colón province also were shut off by the military. Minutes after Zelaya’s detention Canal 8, the official TV channel, also went off the air for 24 hours and when it resumed normal operations it did so with a different staff and different programming. Also taken over by the military was Canal 66, Maya TV which broadcasts the program “Hable como Habla” (Say It Like You Say It), hosted by Eduardo Maldonado, a journalist trusted by Zelaya. The channel continued broadcasting but suffered power cuts. Radio Progeso in the city of El Progreso, Yoro provnce, was also occupied by the military. Journalist Mercedes Asrbesú reported that on June 28 several soldiers forced their way into the studios, halted the broadcasts and forced the employees there to leave the building. Radio Globo in Tegucigalpa, Radio Juticalpa in Olancho province and Radio Marcala in La Paz province also underwent military occupation. Several cable TV systems, on the instructions of the National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel), had to take off the air various channels that were alleged to have shown bias in reporting events and incited chaos, among them CNN, Telesur and Cubavisión. Supporters of the deposed president on June 28 beat up El Heraldo photographer Jhony Magallanes. They also attacked three Canal 42 reporters, punching them and smashing their cameras. That same day La Tribuna photographer Juan Ramón Sosa was set upon as he covered a demonstration by Zelaya supporters. Cartoonist Allan McDonald was arrested by soldiers who raided his home, burned his cartoons and drawing implements. He was later released. Subsequently, several radio programs were also cancelled, specifically those of labor union or government organizations in which support for Zelaya’s reinstatement was expressed. Radio América cancelled its program “Voces Contra el Olvido” (Voices Against Obscurity), which was directed by staff of the Committee of Family Members of Arrested and Missing Persons of Honduras for the past 10 years. On July 22 Bertha Oliva, the committee coordinator, reported that she had been ordered from above to suspend the program. Radio Cadena Voces on July 11 took off the air the Saturday programs “Tiempo de hablar” (Time to Talk) and “La bullaranga” (The Racket) of the Women’s Rights Center and the Women’s Studies Center, respectively, just as the guests were preparing to begin a discussion titled “En Resistencia contra el golpe de Estado” (Resisting the Coup d’Etat). The repression of the media was notorious after June 28, with attacks upon television and radio stations and print media with independent editorial stances that demanded respect for the rule of law. On June 30 a bomb was placed at the offices of Radio América, located in the Alameda neighborhood of Tegucigalpa. According to journalists Juan Bautista Vásquez and José Marcos Durón it happened at nighttime while the curfew was in effect, resulting in suspension of the programming. On July 4 an unidentified person hurled a hand grenade at the offices of Canal 11 in Tegucigalpa, located in a shopping center, damaging walls, doors and windows. That same day Nahún Palacios, director of the Aguán television station Canal 5, reported that soldiers entered his offices and took away equipment. On July 31 attorneys for the Armed Forces submitted a note to the National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel) requesting the suspension of the Radio Globo frequency, claiming that it was being used in the commission of crimes, such as sedition through incitement to insurrection. On August 3 unidentified persons attacked the building of Canal 6 in San Pedro Sula with a low-power explosive device, without causing material damage or injuries. On August 14 four hooded and heavily-armed men attacked and set fire to a vehicle belonging to the Tegucigalpa newspaper La Tribuna that was on its way to Juticalpa, Olancho province. After binding the driver’s hands the assailants set the vehicle, full of copies of the newspaper, alight. On August 15 unidentified persons hurled five Molotov cocktails at the front of the building of El Heraldo in Tegucigalpa. On August 24 the broadcast towers of Canal 36 located on Canta Gallo hillside in Tegucigalpa were sprayed with corrosive acid, damaging them temporarily. That same day there was another attack upon the program “Hable como Habla” (Say It Like You Say It), and the power supply was interfered with, damaging electronic equipment in the TV studio, the director, Eduardo Maldonado reported. Between July and August the plant of the Corporación Televicentro, from where Canal 3, Canal 5 and Canal 7 broadcast news programs, was attacked by Zelaya supporters. During protest marches they hurled rocks and painted intimidating slogans against the journalists, executives and editors there. The same thing happened with the national coverage radio station Radio América and the print media La Tribuna and El Heraldo in Tegucigalpa and La Prensa in San Pedro Sula. Zelaya supporters staged marches, hurled rocks and/or painted threatening slogans on these media outlets’ walls. In late September the interim government of Roberto Micheletti adopted a decree at a cabinet meeting declaring a state of emergency, worsening even further the level of press freedom and free speech in the country. On September 26 there was published in the Official Gazette decree 124-2009 by which five constitutional guarantees were suspended – personal liberty, free expression of thought, freedom of assembly and of union, free circulation, and the rights of the detained. Following international and national repudiation the government overturned the decree on October 17, although it maintained the shutdown of Radio Globo and Canal 36 up to October 19. Also after June 28 innumerable attacks continued to be made upon journalists. On June 30, 2009 journalist Nahún Palacios was beaten and assaulted by police officers in Tocoa, Colón province. On July 1 Carlos Rivera, correspondent of Radio América in the city of Santa Rosa de Copán, was attacked by several demonstrators belonging to the self-styled “anti-coup resistance.” On July 2 also attacked by the police was a Diario de Hoy of El Salvador photographer as he was covering a march by Zelaya supporters in Tegucigalpa. The same thing happened to journalist Rommel Gómez in San Pedro Sula. On July 11 six members of the Telesur network team were detained by police for traveling in a car reported to have been stolen, according to the police. In the early hours of the following day they were released and put at the disposal of José Armando Laguna, Venezuelan ambassador to Honduras. The next day Venezuelan journalists Eduardo Silvera, Pedro Quezada, Franklin Maldonado, Larri Sánchez, Madelín García, Alexander Salazar, Hedor Lanten, María José Díaz, Adriana Sivoni, Clayyban Saint and Fredy Quintero left Honduras on their own. On July 15 journalist Allan Adális Martínez complained that he had lost his job for having called the Roberto Micheletti regime pro-coup d’etat in the radio program “Libre Expresión” (Free Expression) aired by Radio Alegre in Tocoa, Colón province. Carlos Hernández, the radio station’s owner, said that Martínez was fired because he had not obeyed orders to cease announcing the march for peace to be held on July 18 in the Tocoa main square. On July 26 journalist Martín Rodríguez and photographer Henry Carvajal, both from La Tribuna, were attacked by demonstrators who were protesting on a street in El Paraíso province. On July 27 Zelaya supporters beat up El Heraldo photographer Juan Antonio Flores. On July 30 during the removal of a group that had taken over a public highway at the entrance to the capital journalist Karen Méndez of Telesur was shoved and threatened with being killed by police officers, while others beat cameraman Roger Guzmán. Cameramen José Oseguera and Luis Andrés Bustillo, both from the program “Hable como Habla” (Say It Like You Say It) broadcast by Maya TV, were beaten by National Police officers. Juan Carlos Cruz, of the state-owned Radio Nacional, was beaten and arrested by police on July 31 while he was filming a clash between police and youths in a neighborhood of Comayagüela. On August 5 El Tiempo news photographer Héctor Clara Cruz was attacked by police officers as he covered the removal of demonstrators from outside the Autonomous National University. On August 10 members of the Presidential Honor Guard refused to allow Radio Globo reporter Lileth Díaz and Canal 36 reporter Alan Fiallos to enter the Presidential headquarters, saying that there were problems with their accreditation. On August 11 television announcer Rosángela Soto, who works for the newscast “Hoy Mismo” (Today), broadcast by Canal 3, received a death threat on air from a demonstrator taking part in the burning of a bus and a restaurant located on Centroamérica Boulevard. On August 12 Canal 36 cameraman Richard Esmith Cazula was beaten as he filmed demonstrations demanding the reinstatement of Zelaya. On August 12 the director of Radio Coco Dulce in Tegucigalpa, Alfredo López, was attacked. In another incident the director of Radio Cadena Voces, Dagoberto Rodríguez, also received threats from Zelaya supporters. On August 13 Gustavo Cardoza was arrested and beaten by police as he did a live broadcast for Radio Progreso on the removal of a group of demonstrators in Choloma, Cortés province. On September 3 the Armed Forces filed with the Public Prosecutor’s Office an accusation of libel against journalist David Romero Eliner of Radio Globo, saying he had publicly accused Gen. Romero Vásquez Velásquez, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, of having carried out the destruction of the broadcast towers of Canal 36 and Radio Globo. On September 23, the Spanish nongovernmental groups International Federation of Human Rights of Spain (FIDH) and the Pro-Human Rights Assembly, which are assumed to favor Zelaya, contacted the general prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to denounce several publishers of media outlets, as well as other Honduran figures. The statement accused these publishers of contributing to the campaign of political persecution against those who opposed the coup. It mentioned Carlos Flores Facussé of La Tribuna, José Rafael Ferrari of Emisoras Unidas and Televicentro, and Jorge Canahuati Larach of La Prensa as well as “other entrepreneurs who own radio and/or television stations, who along with high-level religious leaders have been equally responsible for political persecution.” This action, which is arbitrary and unfounded and did not follow the correct procedures, is seen as one of the acts of intimidation by ex-president Zelaya´s faction that could, if it continues in this course, become an appalling precedent against press freedom.