harasses foreign journalists in Bajo Aguán
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.
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.
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
“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.”
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.