Honduras: Radio Progreso executive murdered

Honduran journalist Carlos Hilario Mejía Orellana was stabbed to death the night of April 11 at his home in the city of Progreso, in the northern department of Yoro. Mejía was the marketing executive for Radio Progreso, a community radio station established by Jesuits, and was also a member of the Jesuits' Reflection, Investigation and Communications Team (ERIC). Police investigators suggested that he was killed by someone close to him in a "crime of passion," but the radio station's director, the Jesuit priest Ismael Moreno, called the murder "a direct attack not only on the life of our colleague, but a frontal attack on the work produced by Radio Progreso." The station, which provided favorable coverage of resistance to the June 2009 military coup that overthrew then-president José Manuel ("Mel") Zelaya Rosales (2006-2009), has been the target of threats over the years. The Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR, or CIDH in Spanish), called on the Honduran government in 2009—and again in 2010 and 2011—to provide protection for 16 Radio Progreso staffers, including Mejía.

National and international observers condemned Mejía's murder and raised questions about the police investigation. Three US Congress members—James McGovern (D-MA), Sam Farr (D-CA) and Janice Schakowsky (IL)—issued a statement on April 15 expressing "dismay" over the Honduran government's failure to provide adequate protection for the station's staff. They called on the authorities "to immediately implement protective measures for Radio Progreso and ERIC employees and to carry out a thorough investigation of the murder." The French-based organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called for creation of a protection mechanism for the country's journalists, who have been subject to more than 100 attacks and threats since 2010, according to a report by the Honduran government's National Human Rights Commission (CONADEH). Earlier in the month Mexican novelist Álvaro Enrigue had attended an IACHR session in Washington DC to read the names of 32 Honduran journalists killed in the last decade. (Latin American Herald Tribune, April 13, from EFE; Adital, Brazil, April 15; Rep. McGovern press release, April 15; Journalism in the Americas, April 16)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, April 20.