Bajo Aguan: Misinformation in the media incites massacre

Posted on March 2, 2010

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La PrensaOn February 28, La Prensa newspaper, owned by Jaime Larach Canahuati, published an article titled “Guerrilla Cell in Bajo Aguan” which pretends to demonize the campesino movement in Bajo Aguan. The article supposedly was based on data coming from “intelligence reports” which point out that “behind the campesino movement there is support from leftist movements, guerrilla training, and strategic financing from drug trafficking.”

It’s not the first time that newspapers owned by Larach Canahuati throw accusations against the popular movement with a clear intention to polarize the political situation in the poorest regions of the country.

The failure of the land reform, motivated among other things by the Law of Agricultural Modernization, and the feudalism that prevails in the country’s rural regions, have served to raise the great levels of poverty in Bajo Aguan.

The accelerated expansion of African palm in the northern cost of Honduras has helped to foment large landowners which only serve the economic interests of a few rich families that continue to take over large extensions of land, destined to single-crop farming which threatens the food sovereignty in the country.

These past years, specially previous to the coup last year, the security forces in palm plantations have increased their policy of harassment against campesinos in the region who have made claims, within their rights, for their rights to land ownership which have been historically denied to them in this country.

The La Prensa newspaper’s decision to make public a military intelligence report, becomes an accusation that can help to originate and justify a massacre of campesinos by inciting large landowners and paramilitary groups at the service of “democracy”.

For years the Larach newspapers (Heraldo and Prensa) have been flaunting the power that misinformation has in shaping public opinion. The most radical sector in defense of the status quo and the privileges of the small minority that has plundered the country against the interests of the majority, have used the Larach newspapers to denigrate and slander leaders, organizations, processes that question the prevailing feudalism in the country.

The owners of the palm plantations, René Morales y Miguel Facusse, have been identified as staunt enemies of campesino organizations with whom they have land disputes, to the point of Facusse accusing them of having support from international banking institutions that have held back loans to his company (http://www.latribuna.hn/web2.0/?p=99184).

The agricultural model that imposes African palm plantations has a high social price and brings environmental consequences from the accelerated destruction of wetlands and the industrial use of toxic pesticides used in these plantations. The Garifuna communities have suffered the great tragecy of the voracity of Miguel Facussé, who in the name of “development” has taken over strategic places without mediation from government authorities.

The volatillity in Bajo Aguan together with the offensive of the media under this regime, make us think that they are shaping the road towards massive evictions of the campesinos living in Aguan, under the pretext of the rise of an armed movement.

The “report” goes to the extreme of cannabilizing the Catholic Church, Jesuits, in particular, environmental groups and ethnic groups. This is not the first time that individuals and grassroots organizations have been persecuted for denouncing inequities and the absence of law and justice.

On August 24 last year, the Larach newspapers already echoed an article published in the Wall Street Journal, a Rupert Murdoch chain, which accused the Unified Democratic party (UD), the Unitary Workers Federation of Honduras (FUTH), a priest and a leader of the black movement as having connections with the FARC (http://www.laprensa.hn/Internacionales/Ediciones/2009/08/24/Noticias/Pruebas-de-nexos-de-las-Farc-con-UD-y-FUTH).

Underlying the article were the dark intentions of the perpetrators of the coup: the criminalization of the resistance movement by turning it from a pacifist movement to an armed movement. Such was the argument by the specialists in disinformation coming from intelligence agencies in the United States.

Of course, the new security advisers coming from Colombia are known for using the media to shape the imagination of the masses, insinuating that Bajo Aguan is the set for war. From this point on, one can expect the implementation of false positives, a situation in which the advisers of a “power saw” democracy are experts and have come to this country invited by the current Administration.

The situation of the Bajo Aguan campesinos is indication of the great disparity of riches in Honduras, which is not a social trigger for Larach and company. It is simply part of the scenery and a way to maintain their privileges while they insist in practicing the kind of journalism a la Judith Miller from the New York Times (remember the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq). Lesson learned: stimulate the imagination with the media by creating non-existent enemies in order to continue beating [as with the coup] with the support of public opinion.


SOURCE: Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña, OFRANEH

ORIGINAL ARTICLE ON LA PRENSA: Célula guerrillera se arma en el Bajo Aguán, La Prensa

RELATED: Posición del observatorio ecunémico DDHH campaña contra campesinos

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