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Karla Rivas speech – English language translation

Acceptance speech by Karla Rivas, winner of the 2011 Peter Mackler Award,
given at the National Press Club, Washington D.C., on Oct. 20, 2011.
The speech was broadcast live to Honduras by Radio Progreso.

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, friends and colleagues.
In journalism school, they teach us that a journalist never make news except when he or she dies or receives significant recognition. Tonight I want to begin by recalling the names of 16 colleagues who have made headlines over the past two years in Honduras:

  • Fino Gabriel Noriega, killed on July 3, 2009.
  • Asfura Nicholas, killed on February 18, 2010
  • Joseph Hernandez Ochoa, killed on March 1, 2010
  • David Meza Montesinos, killed on March 11, 2010
  • Nahum Palacios, killed on March 14, 2010
  • & 7 José Bayardo Mairena and Manuel Juárez, killed on March 26, 2010
  • Luis Antonio Chevez Hernandez, killed on April 13, 2010
  • Jorge Alberto “Georgino” Orellana, killed on April 20, 2010
  • Luis Arturo Mondragon, killed on June 14, 2010
  • Israel Zelaya, killed on August 24, 2010
  • Henry Suazo, killed on December 28, 2010
  • Francisco Medina Hector Polanco, killed on May 11, 2011
  • Adam Benitez, killed on July 4, 2011
  • Geremias Nery Orellana, killed on July 14, 2011
  • Medardo Flores, killed on September 8, 2011

Their wives, their sons and daughters, and their mothers deserve to know who killed their family member. The Honduran people deserve that the State fulfils its obligation to investigate and punish the perpetrators and masterminds. They deserve that a strong message be sent against impunity.

Far from the halls of power and speeches on the respect of human rights, intolerance, the rule of revenge and the law of the strongest will prevails in Honduras.

We always wonder who is killing journalists in Honduras. The response can only be obtained through a serious investigation, we answer.  What we know is that journalists are threatened, persecuted, and murdered by state institutions based on the  rule of the strongest.

Each of the sixteen deaths recorded since the coup is unique. This is what is terrible about these deaths. The power, wealth, and influence of officials is such that the lives of the people who write or publish news affecting those living in the community are in mortal danger.

Within this context of high insecurity and institutional arbitrariness, the deaths of journalists and media workers remain in the shadow of impunity, because impunity characterizes a society based on the rule of the strongest.

Today,  political agreements and debates lead us to the rough and divisive electoral political arena. But impunity remains intact and untouchable, because it results from an intimate collusion between the State and those who exercise the law of the jungle.

This is why the work of journalists constitutes the most dangerous of all Honduran tasks. The deaths of  journalists and media workers represent the most complete expression of what we might call political crimes in Honduras.

The Peter Mackler Award is a profound celebration of life, awarded by Global Media Forum and Reporters Without Borders, this afternoon, and we share it with the team of Radio Progreso and everyone who works for the creation of a democratic Honduras. It is also in honor of the families of those killed, whom we join in demanding full justice.

Finally we are grateful for the many messages of congratulations and recognition for our commitment to remain a radio dedicated to its audience, in our Honduras thirsty for truth, joy, tenderness, justice, peace, and solidarity.

We remain committed to the fight for the democratization of communication; committed to share the faith, the joys and sorrows of our communities and the struggles and hopes of our people. We are also committed to continue reporting violations of human rights, to continue the critical analysis – proactive and independent but necessary to build a public political culture.

We accept the Peter Mackler Award 2011 with gratitude and we share it with our audience, because Radio Progreso is made of the love and warmth given by our audience throughout our 55 year history.

Thank you very much, Catherine, Camille and Lauren, for keeping alive the legacy of Peter Mackler, a role model of courage and integrity for a new generation journalists.

Thank you!

Read the speech in its original Spanish version