AFP in Honduras Hung By Its Own Photograph

By Al Giordano

August 3, 2009, CATACAMAS, HONDURAS: Here in the jungle border outpost that is home to Honduras’ legitimate First Family, freelance journalist Belén Fernández, also reporting from this region, brought additional information to our attention about the follies of the professional simulators at the French Press Agency (AFP) which had made the false claims last weekend of supposed but non-existent “threats of violence” from the legitimate but exiled President Manuel Zelaya.

It turns out that AFP’s make-believe “journalist,” Francisco Jara knew full well that his statements about military-style “training exercises” by what he called “Zelaya’s ‘popular army’” were false and he chose to lie about it anyway. The proof of his deceit comes from AFP’s own photographs, like the one above. The exercises – see for yourself – were more akin to a Sunday Easter egg hunt or picnic than the conspiratorial scenario conjured by Jara in his felony against journalism.

In that photo of ordinary people of all ages without uniforms or weapons of any kind is the scene that AFP portrayed with frightening militaristic imagery. Oooh, scary!

An AFP story that appeared in the pro-coup daily El Heraldo on Saturday also made some evidently bizarre and self-conflicting claims about anti-coup Hondurans gathered on the Nicaraguan side of the border last week: That they had supposedly “threatened AFP journalists and tried to confiscate their photographic equipment.” How do we know that is false? Because if the hundreds of Hondurans there had wanted to take the AFP cameras away, there’s not much that the AFP staffers could have done to stop it. Yet the photos demonstrate that they were able to do take photos and later publish them.

In other words, the AFP reporter, it is now plain for all to see, is singularly dedicated not to reporting news truthfully, but to distorting and smearing one side of the conflict in ways that only make AFP correspondent Francisco Jara look as ridiculous as he is.

In other news, the National Front Against the Honduras Coup d’Etat met on Saturday. We were invited to attend part of its governing board’s closed-door meeting at 9 a.m. that day at the Beverage Workers Union hall (SITBYS, in its Spanish initials). There, they determined to launch, on Wednesday, August 5, a series of long-distance protest walks that begin on Wednesday to wind toward the capital city of Tegucigalpa and the second largest city of San Pedro Sula, near the northern coast. The marches will last five to seven days and converge in large demonstrations in both locales.

The coup regime is frightened enough by the growing wave of peaceful protests across the country that it placed advertisements in pro-coup daily newspapers announcing new penalties against the redress of grievances nationwide:

“Anybody who calls for leads any meeting or demonstration illicitly will be punished by a sentence of two to four years in prison and a fine of 30,000 to 60,000 Lempiras (about $1,500 to $3,000 US dollars).”

In other words, one doesn’t even have to present at a protest to be imprisoned for it: Simply calling on others to attend now earns any citizen or broadcaster that honor.

As we shall share in upcoming reports (we've had so many hours on the road the past two days that we've got a backlog of news to report here, hopefully we'll get some additional stories posted tonight or tomorrow morning before embarking on another hours-long journey), the regime’s authoritarian threats are not succeeding in causing anybody to back down.

But the regime is correct about one thing with its shifting obsession: Mel Zelaya is the least of its worries. It is the seven million other Honduran citizens, organizing from below, that are going to finish it off with the greater weapons of Unity, Planning and Discipline.

Update: In our continuing investigation to find out exactly who this AFP reporter by the name of Francisco Jara is (he's just not that widely published to be known to many, which in and of itself raises eyebrows about what he's doing suddenly in Honduras) we came across an interesting 2006 article in which a Chilean "journalist" by the same name is quoted aiding in a cover up regarding the 1973 coup d'etat in Chile.

Washington dispatched CIA operatives inside Chile to work against Allende and many Chileans thought Mormons were among the operatives, says Francisco Jara, a Santiago journalist who wrote his doctoral dissertation on Mormons in Chile.

Not so, Jara says.

"Mormon leaders and missionaries helped by teaching anti-Communist doctrines but they didn't serve as spies or covert agents."

It certainly sounds plausible that one who speaks of "anti-Communist doctrines" being helpful to a military coup (as if helping a coup regime is the goal in and of itself) could be one and the same as someone by the same name now engaged in disinformation during the latest coup d'etat in another land. The Oligarch Diaspora still views Chile's violent coup - which killed thousands in its first days, and continued a reign of terror for years on end - nostalgically, as a shining example rather than the war crime it was. And, as we've noted before, the Oligarch Diaspora populates certain sectors of the commercial media and its international correspondents.

AFP now has egg on its face because it did not effectively screen who it allowed to work for the agency, posing as a "journalist." Often such characters are able to worm their way into roles as correspondents for news agencies because, being already wealthy or having covert economic support, they come more inexpensively to the agencies in a news industry that suffers with cash flow problems. This is part of the overall decay of journalism in our hemisphere and our world and what we of the Authentic Journalism Renaissance are struggling to expose, isolate and disarm.


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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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