Letter to the CBC Radio One's "The Current"
By Rights Action, December 1, 2011
Re: Your December 1, 2011 story on Honduras
I was both positively surprised and then depressingly flabbergasted listening to your November 23, 2011 coverage of on-going State sponsored repression in Honduras carried out by the illegitimate, military-backed government:
THE DAY TO END IMPUNITY: HONDURAN JOURNALISTS & CANADIAN RELATIONS - Over four years in Honduras, 23 journalists have been killed. Others face detention, censorship and intimidation. Journalists in Honduras criticize a culture of impunity in the government of Porfirio Lobo, the newly-elected president who has just cut a free trade deal with Canada. Critics say Canada should be using its clout to force the Honduran government to confront such killings and other human rights violations. TO LISTEN: http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2011/11/23/day-to-end-impunity-honduran-journalists-canadian-relations/)
POSITIVELY SURPRISED The first part of your report - an interview with Frank Larue, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of right to freedom of opinion and expression - was positively surprising. In general, the North America media has done, in my view, a terrible job reporting on the situation of State sponsored repression in Honduras since the June 28, 2009 military coup ousted the democratically elected government. Hundreds of people have been killed (see partial list below), including the targeted killing of journalists that you were reporting on.
Your interview with the UN Special Rapporteur gave listeners a clear picture of how brutal the repression against journalists in Honduras is and how the powerful sectors in Honduras act with complete impunity.
DEPRESSINGLY FLABBERGASTED The second part of your report - an interview with Carlo Dade, formerly with FOCAL (the Canadian Foundation for the Americas) - was dumbfounding and, in my view, censors the real reasons why Canada supports and legitimizes the post-military coup regime.
Simplistically promoting "free trade" as a development-economic model that is somehow good for the impoverished majority of Hondurans, Dade came up with the export of PEI potatoes as his example of why Canada's so-called "free trade" agreement (FTA) with the Honduran regime was good.
Potatoes! Really? I am not a member of Prime Minister Harper's inner circle of political and economic advisors, but I can assure you Canada did not sign the FTA with the Honduran regime in order to export potatoes to Honduras. The Current's coverage completely left out major Canadian corporate and investor interests in Honduras - the real reasons why the Canadian government signed this FTA.
Since the 2009 military coup, Rights Action and many Honduran and North American groups and investigators (example: Canadians Jeff Webber and Todd Gordon) have reported on economic interests in Honduras that are of far greater actual value to Canadian corporate and investor interests, than the potential sale of potatoes. Rights Action has regularly sent to our listserv and media list (including the CBC) information concerning health and environmental harms and other human rights violations being directly and indirectly caused by: Canadian mining companies - notably Goldcorp Inc's open-pit / mountain-top removal, cyanide leaching mine in the Siria Valley Canadian textile companies - notably the Gildan clothing company Canadian tourism interests - notably those of Canada's "Porn King", Randy Jorgensen, in indigenous Garifuna communities along Honduras' north coast. On request, we can forward you information about all these issues.
The point I make is not that the CBC would automatically agree with information Rights Action has published out about repression, impunity and growing Canadian economic interests in Honduras. Rather, the blatant problem is that the CBC did not even address the major Canadian investor and corporate reasons as to why the Canadian government signed the FTA with Honduras.
The CBC has done a disservice to listeners. Canadian companies and investors in Honduras benefit from this lack of coverage and attention. The majority of Hondurans, living in conditions of poverty, repression and impunity, suffer from this biased coverage.
Honduras is not a "failed state", as Carlo Dade suggests (even as he extols the virtues of a "free trade" agreement!). Honduras is an exploited State - used and abused by its own economic elites in conjunction with US and Canadian military and economic interests. The CBC owes it to Canadian listeners to provide a full and balanced discussion about the repressive regime in Honduras and of expanding economic interests in Honduras being promoted by the Canadian government, benefiting from and turning a blind eye to repression and impunity.
Rights Action director firstname.lastname@example.org