Wendy Guerra, who was abruptly dismissed from her job as TV presenter as a result of political pressure, was given back her job on the programme, Denuncias 49, on local TV station Canal 49 in Santa Rosa de Copán in western Honduras on 3 May.
The journalist told the Committee for Free Expression in Honduras (C-Libre) on the telephone that she was back on Canal 49, adding that the management had apologised to her and they had reached a satisfactory professional agreement.
Guerra explained that her dismissal had provoked strong reactions locally, nationally and internationally and had brought gestures of solidarity that she could never have imagined. “There were even people ready to organise protest demonstrations against Canal 49” she said.
Reporters Without Borders said it considered the case revealing of a new “subtle” form of censorship that was becoming ever more common in Honduras.
26.04.06 - Political pressure gets local TV presenter fired
Reporters Without Borders today condemned the harassment and intimidation of local TV journalist Wendy Guerra of Canal 49 by municipal councillors in the western city of Santa Rosa de Copán and her dismissal on 24 April as a result of pressure from the ruling Liberal Party.
“It is not our job to question a news media’s internal decision to fire an employee, but if the management fails to defend one if its journalists when she is the target of threats and then fires her as a result of external political pressure, it speaks volumes about its concept of press freedom,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“We firmly condemn the party political solidarity that led to Wendy Guerra’s removal,” the organisation added.
Guerra had worked for two years for Canal 49 as reporter and presenter of the investigative programme “Denuncias 49.” At the start of April, she reported that, during a public meeting, three of the city’s 10 municipal councillors had voted against the proposed building of a sports centre for young people. After the programme was aired, she began being harassed and threatened by the three councillors.
Canal 49 owner Amid Cárdenas, a former parliamentary representative of the ruling Liberal Party (which also controls Santa Rosa de Copán), told Guerra on 24 April that he was removing her from the news staff and was withdrawing “Denuncias 49.”
According to the account Guerra gave to the Committee for Free Expression (C-Libre), Cárdenas told her that her report had “created problems with party friends” and that he did not want “bad things said about Mel’s government on my TV station because he is a friend and they won’t give me any more advertising.” Mel is the nickname of President Manuel Zelaya.
Before giving Guerra her notice verbally, Cárdenas wrote a note to the three councillors explaining what he had done. “It was if he was saying: Look, I’ve sorted out the problem,” Guerra told C-Libre.