Foot traffic was slowed by protesters yesterday evening at Market and Powell. Opposite the City’s mammoth downtown shopping mall, a ring of people, some with their mouths taped shut, carried signs depicting military actions against civilians in Honduras. Why here? 870 Market is the address of the Honduran Consulate.
The protest was meant to draw attention to media censorship in Honduras after its June 28 coup. Says organizer Salvador Cordon, “The de facto government is censoring those radio stations and newspapers that are telling the complete story.”
A report from Reuters confirms that death threats, roadblocks and curfews have prevented journalists and activists from spreading word of the de facto government’s human rights violations. A representative of a human rights watchdog is quoted as saying, “Journalists are receiving threats and being intimidated through emails and phone calls.”
What’s more, Cordon claims that outside of Honduras, “the coverage they’re doing is very lopsided.”
“They’re not informing people of the human rights situation,” says Cordon, and he’s not just talking about Fox News. His list includes Spanish-language giants Univision and Telemundo.
What could the mainstream media be doing better? “They don’t talk about it like a coup d’etat. They find some way to say something else,” says Cordon, gesturing in a circle. Indeed, Jim Lehrer has hosted a Newshour with experts “mulling” whether or not the president’s removal from country and office was, in fact, a coup. And in an installment of NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered, Greg Allen interviewed Hondurans living in Miami who do not see the change in government as a coup.
While it may not surprise some that politically conservative Latin Americans live in Miami, most news articles have been just as likely to describe the situation as an, “ouster,” or, “crisis,” as they are a “coup.” However, the Appeal was able to find articles published by Reuters, the New York Times and the Houston Chronicle that used the term “coup” using an SF Public Library database and Google News.
Cordon also lists concerns that deaths are being under reported in mainstream U.S. media.
Brought together by the anti-war coalition A.N.S.W.E.R. and the Bay Area Latin American Solidarity Coalition, the Market Street protesters marched in solidarity with protestors who marched to the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa on Monday. Cordon says that similar protests were scheduled L.A., New York City, Toronto, Sydney and Melbourne.
In the City, protesters made various and sundry demands with placards and shouted slogans. In addition to the party line about censorship and lack of coverage, messages demanding the return of ousted Honduran president Manuel “Mel” Zelaya, as well as the closure of the School of America’s, confronted passersby. One sign combined demands that President Obama cut aid to Honduras with critiques of the President’s abandonment of single-payer health care.
Cordon has more germane critiques of President Obama when it comes to Honduras. He says that while the President’s statements have been positive, “actions are not corresponding to rhetoric.” He would have Obama close military bases, cut all financial aid, take the ambassador out of Honduras, and freeze the U.S. bank accounts of those involved in the coup.
President Obama has verbally condemned the actions of the Honduran Supreme Court and military and cut aid to the country. No foreign country has recognized de facto leader Roberto Micheletti as the president of Honduras.
The President has responded to similar criticisms that “the same critics who say that the United States has not intervened enough in Honduras are the same people who say that we’re always intervening and the Yankees need to get out of Latin America,”