Honduras: left-leaning TV news anchor murdered

Unknown assailants shot and killed TV news presenter Reynaldo Paz Mayes on the morning of Dec. 15 as he was exercising at an outdoor sports centers in Comayagua, capital of the central Honduran department of Comayagua. A supporter of the center-left opposition Freedom and Refoundation Party (LIBRE), Paz owned a small local television station, RPM TV Canal 28, where he hosted a news program known for its criticism of President Juan Orlando Hernández's right-wing government and the June 2009 military coup that removed then-president José Manuel Zelaya Rosales (2006-2009) from office. Another station owner, Juan Ramón Flores, said Paz had received various threats, including an anonymous phone call the week before, because of his political views.

Police spokespeople said they were working on the assumption that the assailants were after the victim's pistol, which was missing. They said the area where Paz died is dangerous, even though the sports center is located just 200 meters from a transit police post.

Paz was at least the ninth Honduran media worker murdered this year, and the second TV station owner killed since August. Dagoberto Díaz, who owned Canal 20 in the southeastern department of El Paraíso, was killed by unknown attackers in Danlí on Aug. 24. Based on a count earlier in the year by the National Human Rights Commission (CONADEH), Paz's death would bring the total of Honduran media workers killed since November 2003 to 49. The French-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) organization holds that at least 27 of the media deaths since 2000 are "possibly or clearly related" to the journalists' work. The authorities "must end the unacceptable impunity for crimes of violence against journalists in Honduras," Claire San Filippo, , who heads RSF's Americas desk, said in a statement on Dec. 18. According to the group, "[f]reedom of information has declined dramatically" since the 2009 coup. Honduras ranks 129 out of 180 countries in RSF's 2014 World Press Freedom Index. (La Prensa, , San Pedro Sula, Aug.25; El Heraldo, Tegucigalpa, Dec. 15; The Guardian (UK) Dec. 17; Terra, Peru, Dec. 18, from EFE; RSF statement, Dec. 18)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, December 28.