Committee to Protect Journalists
Country Report: Honduras
As of December 31, 1998

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Close personal relationships between media owners and President Carlos Flores, along with the corruption of individual journalists, combined to undermine public confidence in the Honduran press.

Flores, who took office in 1997, is the owner of the Tegucigalpa daily  La Tribuna, whose coverage has been uniformly favorable to his administration. Critics allege that Flores has received generally good press by personally pressuring media owners who criticize him, and rewarding those who support his polices. In his first year in office, Flores named at least 20 former journalists to diplomatic posts, according to local press reports. Francisco Morales, former editor in chief of the Tegucigalpa daily El Heraldo, was named ambassador to Spain.

Corruption also takes cruder forms. Many reporters accept bribes from government officials in exchange for positive coverage. As an example, journalists point out that local reporting on the government's response to Hurricane Mitch was highly favorable, while the foreign press raised questions about the efficacy of the relief effort and official inflation of the casualty count.

The government impedes the work of the press through control of the Colegio de Periodistas (College of Journalists), which licenses journalists before they are allowed to work. When Elan Reyes, the spokesperson for Honduran first lady Mary Flake de Flores, became president of the Colegio in November, several dozen journalists walked out in protest.

| Attacks on the Press in 1998 |