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Coup in Honduras - Viewed from Inside and Outside

New America Media, Commentary//Gallery, Text: Jos Castro, Translated by Elena Shore // Photos: Vasny A. Maldonado Posted: Jun 30, 2009

Vasny Maldonado is a freelance photographer and media producer. He's worked in communications & media in Honduras for over 10 years as a manager of a cable and communications company in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. He was alarmed when soldiers showed up at the offices of the cable company he worked for Sunday afternoon. They strictly forbade the transmitting of CNN and other international news. That's when he hit the streets and shot these images.

Jos Castro, an Honduran American radio host in Tennessee has been watching the events unfold in his native country and pondering the role of media in these times.

In politics, they say, you know how things begin, but you never know how they will end. Those who colluded to overthrow President Jos Manuel Zelaya Rosales never imagined that it would bring worldwide condemnation or serious consequences for Honduras and its people.

At this point, with President Zelaya in exile, our country is practically isolated from the international community. Its neighbors in the Central American Integration System (SICA) have closed their borders.

As far as we know, the worldwide diplomatic condemnation of a coup is unprecedented in Central America. It marks one more step in the evolution of international rights. The basic principles of the democratic system cannot be broken - the separation of powers and the effective subordination of the military to civil authority as embodied by the executive branch.

Any state that allows these principles to be broken in any other state, and legitimizes it by accepting it, would set a precedent. It could end up excusing or even justifying a similar act in its own country. That is, in fact, the fundamental reason behind the worldwide rejection of the June 28 coup.

The coup was condemned by the United States and the rest of the American states, the OAS, the European Union, the United Nations, the Latin American members of SICA, ALBA, Ro Group, and each country that is an economic and commercial center such as those in the G-8, G-16 and G-22.

The way events have been transpiring inside the country remains a mystery for most Hondurans, since local media are ignoring their obligation to inform the public, out of collusion with officials or coercion.

In this sense, Honduras has never experienced such a deep and massive violation of its freedom of expression by the government, even in its darkest years of dictatorship. Honduran society is now shrouded in a true bubble, which constitutes an unquestionable case in which mass media was an inherent actor in the coup.

This chapter of the destruction of the constitutional right to inform and be informed, which violates the Inter-American Democratic Letter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, not only affects Honduran journalism but also international journalism, and, therefore, the entire population of the world that has the right to know what happens in their own countries.

In the face of such outrage and resounding worldwide condemnation, the Honduran people must ask themselves: Now what?

Jose Castro is the host of the Spanish-language radio program Puntos de inters in Nashville, Tenn. NAM Editor Elena Shore translated the editorial.

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