Media Coup in Honduras

29 November 2009 by Jérôme Duval

The media claim the defence of democracy as their battle cry. But it is clear that for some, there are two types of democracy. In this case democracy means the representation of capitalists. The media prefer to discredit a definition of democracy [1] as power to the people: the only valid definition is neoliberal democracy, i.e., freedom of action for the happy few and a majority that is prevented from deciding on the country’s future.

What Manuel Zelaya, President of Honduras, had proposed was that the population also decide, as was done previously in Ecuador and Bolivia, on convening a Constituent Assembly. If this proposal was accepted, a new constitution would have been drafted and subsequently subjected to the polls to be ratified by the people through referendum. Is there a more democratic process to define the political structure of a country? In this case, the people are sovereign and that is certainly what scares the multinational media. In Honduras, as elsewhere, the media business with the support of the oligarchy are hostile to this type of project. It is no coincidence that on 28 June, the same day that Zelaya prepared to consult the people to determine whether to accept the installation of a fourth ballot in the November elections, the oligarchy seized power.

US companies such United Fruit [2] are a state within the state, maintaining the tradition of submission to the multinationals. In fact Honduras inspired the term “banana republic”. The few families that constitute the country’s oligarchy own the largest companies, radio stations, television and newspapers, and lodge in the seats of power. But the seats of power were not
enough with the “Chavez threat” gaining ground. Thus, the Honduran oligarchy was placed in the forefront of power with the coup on 28 June 2009.

That day a power cut paralyzed the capital and prevented the emission of most national and international media, so as to avoid the massive presence of people in the streets at the news of the coup. The army raided the local TV Channel 36, also called South Cholusat, which was loyal to Zelaya. The three journalists of Telesur, Adriana Sivori, Jose Maria Diaz and Larry Sanchez are kidnapped from their hotel and driven out of the country with other journalists from Associated Press [3]. We know what happened afterwards: Manuel Zelaya and his foreign minister, Patricia Rhodes, expelled to Costa Rica, began a diplomatic negotiation, while in Honduras, the National Front against the coup [4] centralized the resistance in a context characterized by polarization of the population between “Zelaya” and coup. Honduras had been a liberal laboratory in the 1970s-80s, experimenting with counterrevolution [5]; it now returns to the international scene, revealing the impact of a revived Cold War.

Do the people get access to free speech?

Manuel Zelaya, despite coming from a rich family of forest entrepreneurs, had decided to defend the interests of the poor above those of private companies. When not following the agenda of big business and the U.S. embassy, he had been slandered and libelled by the press since the beginning of his mandate. He was given no more than six months as president, and then another year, and so on until the fateful day when the army deported him. To restore balance Balance End of year statement of a company’s assets (what the company possesses) and liabilities (what it owes). In other words, the assets provide information about how the funds collected by the company have been used; and the liabilities, about the origins of those funds. in the media and give voice to increasingly ignored people, Zelaya launched a weekly free public broadcast in late 2007, Citizen Power, which promotes citizen participation. Then he nationalized Channel 8 TV because of the mismanagement of Elijah Aspura. It is likely that the fourth ballot proposal for elections in November 2009 would have been approved if the coup had not suddenly stopped the democratic process. Of course, since the coup, Citizen Power has been scrapped, the employees were fired and Channel 8 is back in the hands of Elijah Asfura, its former owner [6], who also owns TV channels 8, 12 and 30. So the oligarchy owns the means of communication and strengthens the manipulation

In a country where the media describe as “rogues” those who stand up against the coup, only one out of the ten television stations that broadcast nationally, Channel 36, explained what had happened. Radio One, Radio Globo, gave the floor to inform people of the ongoing resistance. No national newspaper speaks of the movement against the coup without manipulating public opinion and clearly take sides with the dictator, Micheletti. A single monthly publication The Liberator offers in-depth articles that clearly show the ongoing class struggle. We’re talking about national media, because locally, we can note, among others, the presence of Radio Progreso, from which a journalist, Gustavo Carpoza, was beaten in the street and later during transport to the police station while participating in mobilizing Choloma on 14 August 2009. [7]

As in many other countries, a group of bankers, businessmen and media owners, are the families that are closely related to the United States and those in power. Almost all radio and television channels, and major newspapers belong to the oligarchs who supported the coup of June 28. These include Carlos Roberto Flores, former president of Honduras from 1998 to 2002, close to Micheletti and suspected of being one of the chief ideologues of the coup who owns a major newspaper La Tribuna in the country. Canahuati Jorge Larach, the National Party, owner of El Heraldo and La Prensa, two other Central American country’s main newspapers | [8]. Rafael Ferrari, a known member of the Liberal Party is the owner of television channels 3, 5 and 7 (Group Televicentro) and many radio stations (United Stations, HRN, Radio North, etc.).. The businessman Ricardo Maduro, a former Central Bank Central Bank The establishment which in a given State is in charge of issuing bank notes and controlling the volume of currency and credit. In France, it is the Banque de France which assumes this role under the auspices of the European Central Bank (see ECB) while in the UK it is the Bank of England.

president (1990-1994) and President of the Republic between 2002 and 2006 [9] who before leaving his post to Manuel Zelaya, meekly applied adjustment measures dictated by the IMF IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.
(devaluation Devaluation A lowering of the exchange rate of one currency as regards others. of the national currency, liberalization of prices ...). Maduro invested in El Salvador and Honduras, where he owns shopping centers (Grupo Roble), banks and media. [To defend the spurious grounds of removal of Zelaya was presented with the Honduran Constitution in hand to Congress in Washington on July 8.] Here are some of the characters who have supported and disseminated the ideology of the coup. As in Venezuela in April 2002, one can speak of a “media coup”.

In its edition of Sunday, August 16th, the newspaper El Heraldo denounced a “terrorist attack” that “threatens freedom of expression.” In fact, there was a fire caused by two Molotov cocktails thrown at the newspaper. We understand this so-called terrorist act better when we know that the same newspaper consistently vilifies Manuel Zelaya. An instance of this can be found in its August 16 edition where we can read: “Zelaya has been replaced in office on June 28 after violating the Constitution of the Republic and face justice that prevented him from carrying out an illegal consultation to convene a National Constituent Assembly.” This ideological position is reflected daily in the columns of all the national dailies. This lack of journalistic professionalism, that represents a real disinformation, is a constant outrage to militants. As a consequence leaflets are distributed in order to try and correct misinformation.

*In this context, resistance is organized around the only ways that give voice to people, especially Radio Globo and Channel 36. Recall that the “attack” at The Herald followed a series of acts of intimidation and violence towards other media. Telesur journalists were kidnapped from their hotel on 11 July for the second time since the coup, their passports were confiscated and they were threatened [10] by police forces of the de facto government. Telesur is one of the few international TV channels covering the events: most international television crews have left the country after the tensions caused by the shock seem to subside. The team of public television in Venezuela, Venezolana de Television (VTV) has been kidnapped on July 11. Channel 36 and Radio Globo that continue to face pressures and pirate attacks that affect (their) transmission, have cut their programs on July 16. On August 23, masked gunmen destroyed the transmission apparatus of Channel 36. The Maya TV program has had to stop, too, due to transmission damage. And these attacks will continue while the media quietly manipulate public opinion.

Following a decree issued on Sunday, September 27th (and removed some days later because of international pressure), constitutional guarantees Guarantees Acts that provide a creditor with security in complement to the debtor’s commitment. A distinction is made between real guarantees (lien, pledge, mortgage, prior charge) and personal guarantees (surety, aval, letter of intent, independent guarantee). of freedom of expression, movement and assembly were suspended to give way to systematic repression. The day after, September 28, the army seized and confiscated all the audiovisual material of Channel 36 and Radio Globo. Only Radio Globo, which warned of this possibility, continues to broadcast via Internet from an unknown location.

Media war

This (media) war comes at a time when progressive governments on the continent are facing the media business trying to legislate to limit the destabilizing role promoted by a growing monopoly power. Evo Morales accused the newspaper La Razon (owned group Prisa, which also owns Le Monde and El Pais) to follow the guidelines of the United States Embassy in La Paz [11]. The Argentine government seeks to promote legislation to limit monopolies in the media which now are concentrated in few hands, facing strong opposition from big business. The local subsidiary of Telefonica (Spain) strongly opposes the ban on participation in the television business. Meanwhile, El Clarin, the largest media group in Argentina, he is concerned. Not to mince words, the director of Clarin, Ricardo Roa, the law speaks of “Franco”, “fascist” and “Chavez”, adjectives that, according to him, all belong together...

This confrontation reveals a fault line among some progressive governments in the region and the multinational media. Within the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), the former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo and former President of Bolivia, Carlos Mesa, spoke of “attack on freedom of expression” by governments that challenge the media -industrial complex to leave an opening for citizens’ media [12]. Attributing to the enemy what we do is an effective form of distraction to be released soon ... by the media.

In Honduras, these media are the voice of the oligarchy of the country that supported the coup and defend their financial interests, supporting the continuation of this corrupt representative democracy against all attempts at constitutional reform that affect their privileges. Kissinger spoke of Allende’s Chile as a “virus” that could “infect” the region [13]. The reactionary forces believe the same of Chavez in Venezuela, but after failing to oust him despite the coup of April 2002, they have attacked the latest country to be “contaminated” by the idea of social justice, Honduras.*

Translated by X. and reviewed by Christine Pagnoulle


[1| In Greek, “demos” means people and "kratos means power.

[2The United Fruit Company, which has become Chiquita, criticized Zelaya and supports the Micheletti’s government. See:

[3]. Their equipment was confiscated and they could not use their mobile phones. A few hours after the assault, scores of soldiers invaded the premises of Radio Progreso in Choloma and requested them to cease all activity [[See :

[4See the website of the national front of resistance against the coup :

[5It is from Honduras that the supplying in the Contra and the assaults against sandinists in Nacaragua were organized.

[6Frecuencia de Canal ocho retornará a Elías Asfura :

[7There were at least 39 prisoners and 4 severely wounded hospitalized during this repression.

[8He also owns the Sport Journal Diez. Mario Canahuati, another very wealthy man of Honduras, is also a textile magnate. Jesus Canahuati is the president of the maquiladores. The maquiladores are clothing companies of the main brand which always look for low salaries without worrying about the labour laws. There are many of them in Honduras.

[9In the constitution of 1982, now in effect, it is necessary to have the honduran nationality to be elected president. Born in Panama, Ricardo Maduro actually violated the Constitution and it will create an important controversy.

[13See the article by Noam Chomsky, “La menace d’un bon exemple”

Jérôme Duval

member of CADTM network and member of the Spanish Citizen’s Debt Audit Platform (PACD) in Spain ( He is the author, with Fátima Martín, of the book Construcción europea al servicio de los mercados financieros (Icaria editorial, Barcelona 2016) and he also co-authored La Dette ou la Vie (Aden-CADTM, 2011), which received the award for best political book in Liège (Belgium) in 2011.



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