A headline in this morning’s edition of the Honduran daily La Tribuna, fervent defender of last year’s coup d’état against President Mel Zelaya, announces the search for the “gang member” that killed the daughter of veteran union organizer and anti-coup resistance figure Pedro Brizuela. The murder of Claudia Larisa Brizuela Rodríguez, which took place on February 24 in the Céleo González neighborhood in the northern city of San Pedro Sula, had not prompted any prior coverage in the mainstream Honduran press despite the papers’ usual predilection for homicide photographs.
Honduran journalistic traditions had also been disrupted in July 2009 by the murder during a demonstration at the Tegucigalpa airport of anti-coup teenager Isis Obed Murillo, whose picture appeared in the daily La Prensa only after his blood had been removed via the Photoshop program. La Tribuna refrains from erasing the pool of blood surrounding Brizuela Rodríguez’ body on her living room floor, or from explaining how it is that members of the National Criminal Investigation Directorate (DNIC) are “hot on the trail” of the alleged gang member when the only identifying information provided by witnesses is that he is short.
During a conversation in San Pedro Sula last August, Pedro Brizuela dismissed his daughter’s concern regarding his potential martyrdom on behalf of the resistance and reasoned that he was already old, anyway. As it turns out, Brizuela Rodríguez’ concern was only slightly misplaced, and she was shot at age 36 upon answering the door at her home—a scene witnessed by her two sons, ages 2 and 8. La Tribuna concludes:
The femicide [of Brizuela Rodríguez] has caused consternation among civil and trade union organizations, due to her father’s decades-long involvement in these sorts of activities.”
El Heraldo had demonstrated similar consternation over popular activity in a July 31 article explaining that anti-coup Honduran teacher Roger Vallejo Soriano had “ended up with a head wound”—which promptly killed him—due to the fact that he had “abandoned his classroom in order to go out and protest in the streets.” Brizuela Rodríguez receives more lenient treatment at the hands of La Tribuna, and instead of being blamed for her own demise is cast as the victim of her father’s past, with any other blame for the crime absorbed by the term “femicide,” as gender-related targeting by gangs is less easy to pin on the current administration of Pepe Lobo.
Lobo, an impending beneficiary of the “greater engagement with the countries of the Western Hemisphere” promised by the U.S. State Department, will rendezvous in Guatemala with Hillary Clinton at the beginning of March. As for why Clinton’s Latin America tour includes both Guatemala and Costa Rica but not Honduras, this question was posed by an attendee at yesterday’s press briefing by Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela, who confirmed the geographical proximity between Central American nations:
QUESTION: And the flight time between Costa Rica and Guatemala and Honduras –
ANSWER: Yeah. Right. Right. Guatemala.
Valenzuela’s discourse does not become any less enigmatic as the briefing progresses, and he proclaims with the regard to the U.S. position on the recent Honduran crisis:
So we see the outcome in Honduras is a very successful case of standing for a very fundamental principle and that is that you cannot tolerate a coup d’état in a country. This sets a terrible precedent. And in that sense, we join the unanimity of the hemisphere in this regard. But at the same time, a solution had to be found to Honduras.”
As is clear from the lack of a U.S. response to the slew of politically-motivated murders that have occurred in the first month of Lobo’s presidential term, these are to be considered part of the Honduran solution and compatible with Clinton’s call for “principled pragmatism” in condemnation of human rights abuses—especially when said abuses are carried out by nations of strategic interest to the U.S.