News director for Channel 19 in El Paraíso, Honduras, Luis Arturo Mondragon, was assassinated last night as he sat with his son outside his home. This brings the number of media professionals killed this year to nine. Mr. Mondragon had been the target of threats in the weeks leading up to his death for his work in exposing corrupt local and national officials. All the journalists killed this year had been reporting on corruption as well as human rights violations and drug trafficking.
Violence against journalists in Honduras has increased since last year’s coup in June. Both journalists and their families alike have been the targets of over 300 reported attacks including assassinations, abuse, intimidation, and censorship. Honduran Security Minister Oscar Alvarez insists that the killing of journalists is not an organized effort to silence or intimidate the news media. However, only one murder case has plausible suspects while all other cases continue to go unsolved.
The violence has made Honduras one of the most dangerous places for journalists and has forced some to flee the country for their safety. Last week, Karol Cabrera fled to Canada and sought political asylum after surviving two attempts on her life. The first attempt in December left her pregnant 16-year-old daughter dead.