Hondurans: Vandalism Is No Path to Change


EspañolSince investigators unearthed a corruption scheme within the Honduran Social Security Institute (IHSS), large protests have swept Honduras, with participants demanding the resignation of top officials. They also want the creation of an International Commission Against Impunity in Honduras (CICIH), an investigative entity backed by the United Nations similar to the one currently operating in Guatemala.

Sadly, the most radical groups have shown worrying signs of intolerance during the protests.

On Friday, July 3, demonstrators gathered for the sixth march of torches (marcha de las antorchas) in Tegucigalpa. Some activists resorted to attacks on buildings belonging to the National Commission for Human Rights (CONADEH) and to Grupo ABC. Grupo ABC is a media conglomerate comprising several outlets, including channel TEN, which has been critical of certain anti-corruption proposals, such as the demand that President Juan Orlando Hernández step down.

Según comunicado del CONADEH los daños no solo fueron materiales sino también pusieron en riesgo la integridad física de quienes allí se encontraban. (CONADEH)
CONADEH said the attacks against its building put employees in danger. (CONADEH)

CONADEH issued a statement after the aggression, stressing that “Hondurans have a right to demonstrate peacefully, in accordance with the Honduran Constitution and international treaties. However, this right is compromised by the destruction of public property that belongs to us all, and in the destruction of private property, which is another human right.”

Channel TEN released footage showing the moment when protesters threw rocks at its facilities and even threatened to set reporters’ cameras on fire.

Some have argued the attacks came from strangers who infiltrated the movement, but the theory falls flat in the face of overwhelming support for the attacks on social media. Online activists, sometimes hidden behind anonymity, have been quick to harass those who don’t agree with their way of thinking or protesting.

This episode reveals that radicals, rather than seeking an end to impunity, want to create a hotbed for power-hungry opportunists to enact political revenge. This opens up another battlefield to wage attacks on media outlets they don’t agree with, a behavior that neither opens up space for dialogue nor encourages healthy debate on the country’s critical situation.

"When someone burns <em>La Prensa</em> and you come out with your underwear on fire, then you'll have an article..." Journalists received similar threats and intimidations on a daily basis. (<a href="https://twitter.com/marilynmendezm" target="_blank">@MarilynMendezM</a>)
“When someone burns La Prensa and you come out with your underwear on fire, then you’ll have an article…” Journalists received similar threats and intimidations on a daily basis. (@MarilynMendezM)

When violence is used as a confrontation strategy, any action by the citizenry — no matter how genuine — is undermined. Real discussion halts. If we don’t have free media with which to agree or disagree, no social struggle will be guaranteed a good outcome.

It’s not about defending the media or particular individuals; it’s about protecting and respecting the freedom of speech of all Hondurans.

Certainly all Hondurans want justice, not just regarding the IHSS case, but also in all previous instances — so that corruption is truly weeded out. However, this will never be accomplished by resorting to violence, emotional attacks, or senseless confrontations. They will only deepen a crisis in which families struggle to survive an already battered economy.

Translated by Vanessa Arita.

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