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Honduras15 November 2005

Local radio forced off the air in election rivalry, manager threatened

Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage today at the forced temporary closure of radio Virtud Stereo in the southwestern town of Virtud and the death threats that have been made against its manager, Jaime Díaz, as a result of party rivalry in the campaign for presidential, legislative and local elections on 27 November.

“The media are necessary for election campaigns and polling to take place in a transparent fashion and it is unacceptable that they should be subjected to pressure and harassment by political parties,” the press freedom organisation said.

The Honduran Committee for Free Expression (C-Libre) said Virtud Stereo was forced to suspend its broadcasts on 5 November when its power cables were severed by machete-wielding members of the Liberal Party, whose local leader, Mariano Aguirre, is the current mayor of Virtud even if the party is in opposition at the national level.

Since then, Díaz has been repeatedly harassed and threatened with death by Liberal Party supporters.

Díaz attributes the harassment to Liberal Party resentment of the fact that the ruling National Party has bought more airtime on his station. He told C-Libre the National Party paid for 90 spots a day during the campaign while the Liberal Party settled for just 25 a day. The Liberals asked him to refund the extra sum paid by the National Party and to reduce the number of its spots, but he refused.

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