Silencing of dissent: how freedom of press is threatened in Honduras

by Solenne de Tassigny | Staff Writer

Jennifer Avila, an investigative journalist from Honduras, gave a lecture on human rights violations and freedom of the press in her own country at the Robinson Teaching Theatre on Oct. 9.

Avila, born and raised in Honduras, spent six years working for Cuban radio station Radio Progresso where she reported her stories.

Avila also founded Contra Corriente, an independent news agency ran primarily by young women in Honduras.

The news group hopes to draw attention to the people who chose not to migrate from Honduras.

“We want to tell the stories of the people who stay,” said Avila.

Avila has been touring the Northwest with the organization Witness for Peace. Witness for Peace describes their mission as “to support peace, justice and sustainable economies in the Americas.”

Speaking on behalf of Avila was translator Aleja Rincón, a member of Witness for Peace.

Avila and Rincón described the current political turmoil in Honduras, mentioning issues such as femicide, environmental degradation and gang violence, which they said result from a lack of government legitimacy.

“The government does not have a solution that attacks the structural problems for the things the youth are dealing with,” said Avila.

Avila also showed a video, detailing victims of acid rain and the substandard living conditions of those living close to mines.

The video detailed the physical ailments families and miners in these areas suffered, including issues like hair loss, physical deformities and arsenic poisoning.

Beyond discussing the issues with Honduras, Avila also discussed how investigative journalism has helped spread news of the issues she mentioned.

“It was revealed that there was corruption happening in our healthcare system,” Avila said.

“We tell stories of the faces and the voices of people who suffer.”

Avila’s main message to her audience was that freedom of speech is a vital first step to making changes in systems of government.

For more information, visit the Witness for Peace website.