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Reading La Prensa in Honduras

posted by dawn Geography: Latin America Honduras Topics: war, media, coup d'etat in Honduras

December 17, 2009

Reading La Prensa in Honduras

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Since I've been in Honduras, I've been hearing a constant refrain about the "medios golpistas," which is to say the pro-coup media. I avoided the papers for a while, preferring to listen to the radio, read online, and talk to Hondurans about the situation in the country (I generally do the same at home anyways).

That said, I caved and bought the paper today, and even though I was planning to spend the day transcribing, I feel compelled to write a post about flipping through La Prensa this morning over coffee.

"Government proposes break with ALBA" screams the headline on A1, with another story below on the assassination of the daughter of a pro-coup journalist.

The next three pages of the paper are dedicated to "The Keys of 2009," an ongoing series of unsigned opinion pieces presented as factual, objective reporting on the events that defined 2009.

Second of today's 12 "Keys" is a blurb titled "External aid pulled, commerce closed because of political crisis." I'm going to translate part of it here in an effort to get across the editorial perspective (again, masquerading as fact) in the paper.

The substitution of José Manuel Zelaya Rosales was like a bucket of icy water for the depressed national economy... The Internaional Monetary Fund - with who Zelaya had broken relations and had negated to sign a new memorandum of understanding with, was one of the first to distance itself from Honduras after June 28.

Not only is this a Non Sequitur, it's not true.

Zelaya wasn't outcasted by the IMF, in fact him and his ever-so-slightly left of center government were subject of praise from the IMF and the World Bank.

After an IMF visit to Honduras in March, the group released a statement that included the following praise for Zelaya's leadership.

"The mission would like to thank the authorities for their hospitality and discussions held with the private sector, congress, presidential candidates, and civil society during the stay," said the IMF's representative in Honduras.

Does that sound like "broken ties" to you?

Zelaya's government had largely complied [PDF]with the IMF's austerity program for the country (with exception to paying teachers a living wage... The nerve!).

Believe me, I'm not praising Zelaya for this, nor do I wish to legitimate the IMF's stranglehold on Honduras. Just wanted to point out the facts.

Getting on with things, the note about Zelaya's economic failings continues:

The [economic] measures against Honduras affected commerce in the entire region, and businesspeople reported losses in the millions [of Lempiras] immediately. Honduras, as door to the Atlantic in Central America via the National Port Company and as an obligatory section of land for all merchandise transiting the region, showed that political decisions should not mix with commercial decisions.

Right. The military coup was political, totally separate from economics, finance and commerce. Gotcha.

Anyways, these front sections are full of such goodies, reinforcing Zelaya's supposed incompetence and the need for a military coup. Key #4, for example, trots out the classic economic argument against raising minimum wage.

The paper claims that Honduran business people certainly can not afford to pay more than a miserly "survival" wage to workers. That even though Zelaya's minimum wage increase to 5,500 Lempiras (about $250) a month for people in urban areas didn't even apply to workers in the famed Export Processing Zones, where most of the countries manufacturing companies are located. But still. How dare he?

After the opening section, the paper has an unsigned article about breaking links with ALBA, where they quote a lawyer who explains that the trade block, which proposed significant economic investments in Honduras, was an ideological project of Hugo Chavez, and not a project that would bring economic benefits.

Of note is at the time when ALBA was signed by congress, de facto president Micheletti himself signed onto the deal. Forget about that, though. It's Zelaya that's evil, because he was trying to get close to the Castro brothers and Chavez.

Next up (by the way, I'm skipping over the full colour fast food and credit card ads) is a piece about how coup-President-elect Pepe Lobo is going to work with business people to create jobs. The article notes that Lobo recently talked to Peter Kent, who pushed him to hurry up and install a "government of reconciliation." Turns out Sr. Micheletti doesn't want to give up the game of being de facto president, but the international community wants him out so they can properly recognize Lobo when he is sworn in in January. Yep, things are getting even more complicated.

Anyways, back to the paper. Interspersed between the articles is a graphic asking readers to vote for the person of the year. The choices are Pepe Lobo, Roberto Micheletti, and Reinaldo Rueda, the coach of the national soccer team.

Ok, so there's 104 total pages in the tabloid La Prensa, which bills itself as Honduras' largest independent newspaper. I'm obviously not going to dissect all of them here.

A couple more items do stand out:

-Eight pages, including the centerfold, of advertising that looks like articles and corporate ads celebrating the opening of Honduras' first private helicopter landing pad.

-An article with the headline "52 per cent of Nicaraguans prepared to leave the country."

-Another piece about weapons testing in Iran and the threat to Isreal, of note because the owner of La Prensa is Jorge Canahuati Larach, who (like many of the Honduran elite) is of Palestinian descent.

So there you have it. Around La Prensa in a thousand-odd words.

Image: Cover of La Prensa after the June 28 coup in Honduras. Headline: Armed Forces Loyal to the Constition.

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It's much worse than that, Dawn

Dawn, I have been writing a very long, excellently-sourced piece about Honduras. See:





I read the pro-coup media regularly. They routinely make stuff up, and even change stories after they have been debunked without acknowledging the error. I always hesitate to link them, since I never know what will be at the end of the link an hour later. They published a story claiming that the UN had sanctioned a coup based on one news outlet publishing it. The story swept across the pro-coup media without being fact-checked. Most recently, they published a completely baseless accusation by Micheletti that the murder of Karol Cabrera had been done by the resistance.


Hi Charles, thanks for your comments. It is indeed much worse -- this blog entry was an incomplete look at one paper.. Thanks also for the links I'll check them out.