Television station owner gunned down in Honduras

New York, December 16, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the murder of television station owner and news presenter Reynaldo Paz Mayes, who was shot dead in Honduras on Monday, and calls on authorities to fully investigate the crime and bring those responsible to justice.

Paz, 48, was exercising in an outdoor sporting complex in the city of Comayagua in central Honduras on Monday morning when unidentified gunmen shot him twice in the back, according to news reports. Paz was the owner and founder of a small local television station, RPM TV Canal 28, where he also hosted a daily and weekly news program, according to news reports.

“Honduras has a disturbing pattern of letting journalists’ murders remain unsolved and unexplained, perpetuating the cycle of impunity,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “Honduran authorities must launch an immediate and thorough investigation into the murder of Reynaldo Paz Mayes, fully examine all possible motives, and bring those responsible to justice.”

Local journalists told CPJ on Tuesday that despite having no background in journalism, Paz had founded the television station two years ago and used his news programs to voice support for the opposition political party LIBRE and to criticize the 2009 coup that ousted former President Manuel Zelaya. As well as news, the channel featured sports, music, and entertainment shows, according to its Facebook page.

Juan Ramón Flores, owner of the television station CTV Canal 48 and president of the city chapter of LIBRE, told CPJ that Paz had received threats for years in connection with his political beliefs and, most recently, in relation to his on-air criticism of President Juan Orlando Hernández, who he accused of having undue influence over all branches of government. Flores said the most recent threats had been made in anonymous phone calls the week before the shooting. Paz had talked about the threats on his program, Flores said.

Two journalists from Comayagua, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, said many news outlets criticized the government. The journalists told CPJ they weren’t sure the murder was in relation to opinions Paz shared on the news program.

A special report published by CPJ in September found that amid pervasive violence and instability caused by organized crime and corruption, Honduras has experienced an alarming rise in unsolved, anti-press violence.