Army harasses foreign journalists in Bajo Aguán





Some 20 journalists from various international media were harassed by Honduran soldiers as they traveled through the region of Bajo Aguán to cover the International Meeting for Human Rights in Solidarity with Honduras.


According to Italian-born journalist Giorgio Trucchi, a correspondent for IUF Latin America (Rel-UITA), based in Uruguay, in the afternoon of Sunday, February 19, a six-vehicle convoy carrying some 50 people to the Marañones community settlement was intercepted by a military patrol unit at the Paso Aguán detour.


“The officers were unjustifiably aggressive, forcing the occupants of the first vehicle to get out of their vehicle and show their IDs. The vehicle was driven by Gerardo Argueta, coordinator of the Marañones settlement and one of the leaders of MUCA (the United Peasants Movement of Aguán), who has received numerous threats in the past,” Trucchi told the C-Libre (Committee for Free Speech) reporter over the phone.


Trucchi said that the people in the other five vehicles rushed out and approached Argueta’s car to see why they were being stopped.


“The other journalists and I asked the officers why they were acting that way with that group in particular.


“When we didn’t get an answer from them,” Trucchi continued, “we started filming and taking pictures. This set the officers off and they immediately started manipulating their weapons, in an obvious attempt to intimidate the members of the press.”


“One of the officers walked among the reporters and barked at us repeatedly to ‘Put away those cameras and stop taking pictures or else we’ll confiscate your equipment.’ One officer tried to grab my lens, but he got nervous because there were a lot of people and thought better of it,” Trucchi said.


“This abuse of power lasted about 25 minutes,” the journalist said, “until a superior officer arrived on the site. He was in charge of the operation, but refused to give us his name. I asked him if in Honduras it was legal to threaten reporters with confiscating their equipment without a justified reason, and the officer admitted that it was not legal.”


Trucchi said that this incident gave the foreign press a firsthand experience of the atmosphere of terror that the Bajo Aguán peasants are living in.


“The question, then, is: if they treat foreign journalists with such disdain and arrogance, how bad is the situation for peasants?!” he concluded.


The group of journalists who were harassed by the Honduran military included correspondents from Argentina, Italy, Spain, the United States, Brazil, Norway and Uruguay.





Published from C-Libre*

February 23, 2012



* C-Libre (Committee for Freedom of Speech) is a coalition of journalists and members of civil society formed to promote and defend freedom of speech and the right to information in Honduras


Photos: Giorgio Trucchi


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