Honduras: a military coup in the era of governamentality

In Honduras, One-Sided News of Crisis

Critics Cite Slanted Local Coverage, Limits on Pro-Zelaya Outlets

By Juan Forero:

“Several countries condemned the events of June 28 as a military coup. But in Honduras, some of the most popular and influential television stations and radio networks blacked out coverage or adhered to the de facto government’s line that Manuel Zelaya’s overthrow was not a coup but a legal “constitutional substitution,” press freedom advocates and Honduran journalists said.

Meanwhile, soldiers raided the offices of radio and TV stations loyal to Zelaya, shutting down their signals. Alejandro Villatoro, 52, the owner of Radio Globo, said soldiers broke down doors and dismantled video surveillance cameras.

“They grabbed me and put me face down and put six rifles on me, with a foot on my back holding me down,” he said. “It was like I was a common criminal.”

Such allegations underscore the one-sided nature of the news that has been served up to Hondurans during the crisis. According to results of a Gallup poll published here Thursday, 41 percent of Hondurans think the ouster was justified, with 28 opposed to it.

The de facto regime headed by Roberto Micheletti cited such support as he began talks Thursday in Costa Rica with that country’s president, Oscar Arias, who has agreed to mediate. Zelaya met separately with Arias, who said representatives of the two men will continue meeting in the days ahead.

In Honduras, though, the country’s new leaders, the security forces and the clergy argue that Zelaya’s removal had legal justification the rest of the world does not understand. Local media largely “slanted coverage” to favor that position, said Carlos Lauría of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

“The de facto government clearly used the security forces to restrict the news,” Lauría said. “Hondurans did not know what was going on. They clearly acted to create an information vacuum to keep people unaware of what was actually happening.”

Micheletti’s spokesman, René Cepeda, and other officials in the de facto government did not return phone calls seeking comment. But Ramón Custodio López, Honduras’s human rights ombudsman, who investigates violations of press freedom, said he has received no official complaints from journalists. “This is the first I have heard about an occupation or military raid of a station,” he said. “I try to do the best job I can, but there are things that escape my knowledge.”
Custodio added that he thought Honduran media coverage of the overthrow and its aftermath has been “very good”. “

Read it full at Washington Post

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