Media War in Honduras

The war between President Lobo and Candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez has been getting more and more aggressive. Jorge Canahuati, president of Grupo OPSA, owners of the influential daily newspapers La Prensa and El Heraldo has stepped up his attacks to the Lobo regime, with strong messages on the front page of the Grupo Opsa newspapers. La Prensa, for instance, had on its front page last Tuesday, January 23rd: “With Lobo, 500,000 jobs were lost”; on Wednesday, January 24th, the headlines were “84% of Hondurans distrust Congress”.

Juan Orlando Hernández National Political Party Candidate 2013

Juan Orlando Hernández – National Political Party Presidential Candidate a front runner in the 2013 Honduran Presidential Elections

By coincidence, this week Colombia officially embraced the “Declaration of Chapultepec” an initiative that seeks to defend and guarantee the freedom of speech in the Americas. This instrument was signed by Lobo himself earlier in his presidential period, committing not only his government, but the state of Honduras from that date on to protect freedom of speech in the country. President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia said that without freedom of speech there is no democracy. The president of the Chapultepec initiative, who happens to be Jorge Canahuati, president of OPSA, congratulated Santos during the official event where Colombia embraced the declaration and although he did not say anything about the situation in Honduras, you can read between lines a series of messages that were meant for Lobo and his regime.

On a totally different incident, Juan Orlando Hernandez, president of Congress and the official candidate of the National Party to the presidency of Honduras, accused news anchorman Renato Alvarez of attacking him and his campaign. Alvarez is the most respected news reporter in Honduras and his daily morning program has the highest ratings in the country. Hernandez is upset because Alvarez’s program always hosts community leaders, political analysts, and other influential Honduran citizens, who discuss different daily problems and controversial issues in national events, and many of them have been very critical of Hernandez and Congress in general.

From what we can see, Hernandez will be even less tolerant of press that what Lobo has been if he does reach the presidency.

In a recent survey, conducted by a Jesuit Central American entity, and released only this week, the perception held by many Hondurans was confirmed: Citizens are extremely leery and distrustful on the current government, including Congress and the presidency of Lobo and all his cabinet. A serious distrust in the primary elections is also evident, with a large part of the population convinced that both traditional party candidates that won the nomination of their party did so by committing some kind of fraud during the elections. The refusal by the national electoral authority to do a vote recount only confirms these perceptions. And the resolution of the Supreme Court that has just denied the habeas corpus request for a recount seems to confirm what many believe.

As we come into a new electoral process, I can only assume that the war between the government and the media will increase, and that we will face a complicated electoral process. If nothing else, it will be extremely interesting to follow!

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