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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Killing of kidnapped journalist in Honduras reveals inefficiency of government, increasing reach of organized crime




As the investigation into the kidnapping and killing of Honduran journalist Alfredo Villatoro, continues, the local press is reporting on possible motives and suspects behind the crime.

Sources consulted by the newspaper El Heraldo revealed that 48 hours after the journalist disappeared, the kidnappers did not seek a ransom, which security experts suspected indicated the crime had political or terrorist motives, or perhaps was an act of vengeance. Specialists interviewed by the newspaper said the crime was a message to the government since the renowned journalist from HRN radio was killed just hours after President Porfirio Lobo announced that, according to videos, Villatoro was still alive.

The Minister of Security, Pompeyo Bonilla, said that the crime was an offense against Honduras, declaring that the kidnapping and killing were linked to drug trafficking groups acting in reprisal for the constitutional reform that allows Honduran citizens accused of drug trafficking to be extradited to the United States, according to the newspaper La Tribuna.

Honduran authorities also said that two prisoners could be implicated in the journalist's kidnapping and killing.

One day after the killing, the Honduran president called a meeting of news media directors, who demanded the government protect journalists, according to the newspaper La Prensa.

“The crime monster we are facing is a problem that goes beyond our borders and only with the participation of all friendly sectors and nations can we overcome this," President Lobo said in Wednesday, May 17, as reported Voice of America.

In an editorial, the station Radio Nederland noted that the order to kidnap such a well-known journalist symbolizes the inability of the police to guarantee the public's safety, the barrage of threats journalists face for reporting on abuses of power, and the rampant impunity in attacks against journalists in Honduras.

At the international level, organizations like Reporters Without Borders, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), the Organization of American States (OAS), and the U.S. Embassy in Honduras condemned the killing of journalist Villatoro and called on the Honduran government to solve the crime and punish those responsible for Villatoro's death and the killings of 22 other journalists since 2010.



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