When Ricardo Maduro became president in January 2002, government relations with the media became easier than under his predecessor, Carlos Flores Facussé. But disputes continue over whether state advertising in the media is being used to reward or penalise it for their coverage of government activities. The prosecution of Sandra Maribel Sánchez reminded Hondurans of the reactionary and repressive laws about freedom of the press that are still on the books.
14 journalists physically attacked
Fourteen journalists working for nine different media outlets were physically attacked and some injured as they covered a workers’ demonstration in Tegucigalpa on 24 October 2002. They were hit by stones thrown by protesters as well as in police charges. One of them, Edwin Murillo, a cameraman for the Canal 11 TV station, was beaten and his equipment destroyed by police to stop him filming the demonstration.
Pressure and obstruction
The lawyer of former state auditing board chief Vera Sofía Rubí asked on 10 May 2002 for Radio América journalist Sandra Maribel Sánchez to be arrested and banned from leaving the country. Rubí, who Sánchez said was corrupt, accused her of spying on her and also of illegally working as a journalist because she is not formally registered with the national journalists’ institute as the law requires. Sánchez faces 14 years in prison.
The heads of the TV station Canal 13 and the radio station Radio Reloj, writing in the daily paper Tiempo on 10 July, accused the government of trying to influence their editorial policy by withdrawing state advertising in reprisal for their reporting of a private trip to Italy by President Maduro to see his girlfriend. The newspaper said it too had been temporarily penalised in this way.