Francisco Jara of AFP Commits a Felony Against Journalism

By Al Giordano

AUGUST 1, 2009, TEGUCIGALPA, HONDURAS: A two-day old story by Francisco Jara of AFP (French Press Agency) has suddenly been reproduced by many English and Spanish language media to claim that Honduras’ legitimate President Manuel Zelaya “threatened violence” if the coup regime is not removed.

The story is demonstrably false.

Looking at the actual statements and the true facts it is difficult not to conclude that AFP reporter Jara intentionally distorted the story, with malice and aforethought.

The interpretation of Zelaya’s statements as a “threat” are not borne out by what the President actually said, and contradict the great body of quotations about nonviolence and peaceful action made by Zelaya in recent days. But the dishonest AFP reporter left all that out of his report, and instead added some colorful but false claims to the story to somehow make it seem like a threat.

La Jornada reporter Arturo Cano transcribed the exact words, used by Zelaya on Nicaragua Channel 4, and here is what Zelaya actually said:

“O se revierte el golpe o viene la violencia generalizada.”

That translates as:

“The coup will end or there will be generalized violence.”

Got it? Zelaya doesn't say he will engage in violence. He doesn't say his supporters will do so. In the context of what has actually happened, the sounder interpretation would be that he was speaking of the generalized violence of the coup regime that has already engaged in brutal acts of violent repression daily. Francisco Jara twisted it, turned it upside down, added the word "threat" to it, to make it sound like the opposite of its intent.

That sort of statement has also been pretty standard boilerplate from all sides in the Honduran crisis. Even peace talks mediator and Costa Rican President, winner of the 1987 Nobel Peace prize, was recently quoted saying the same thing:

If the negotiations have definitively floundered, Mr Arias said he feared "civil war and a bloodbath."

The simulating and crooked faux-journalist Francisco Jara of AFP could have just as easily distorted Arias’ words as a “threat.”

He didn’t do that, of course, because he’s not out to smear Arias in the way he and some other dishonest sniveling pretenders of the media are transparently attempting to do in the case of Zelaya.

Clowns like Francisco Jara are precisely the reason why most people don’t like or trust the news media. Guys like him are a dime a dozen in this business; ready to make up any falsehood in the name of getting a sensationalist headline, usually in ways that distort on behalf of whatever side in a conflict is backed by big financial interests.

Francisco Jara’s crime against the truth and the facts went even further when he wrote these paragraphs in the same story:

"Soon after, around 100 Honduran men belonging to Zelaya's "popular army" began training exercises in a camp on the Nicaraguan side of the border with Honduras, an AFP journalist witnessed.

"The recruits, mostly young men and all unarmed, exercised, marched, and carried out maneuvers under the direction of leaders who said they were Honduran army veterans.

"According to the leaders, other similar camps had been set up along the border."

How big a liar is Francisco Jara? So big that he chopped off the word “peaceful” from Zelaya’s exact phrase, which in every instance as been “peaceful popular army” or, in Spanish, “ejército popular y pacífico.”

It’s one missing word, but a very huge one to leave out, because its absence totally changes the word “army” into something altogether opposite and different than what it means when it is used in the context of “peaceful.”

If you want to get a sense of what Zelaya means by “peaceful popular army,” listen to his interview the other day with Andres Conteris of Democracy Now:

Here, at three-and-a-half minutes into the interview, Zelaya further details what he means, saying:

“I’m someone who professes peaceful means and nonviolence and I don’t support force to resolve things but, rather, dialogue.”

But to read Francisco Jara – whose dirty spin plays into dark oligarch fantasies and media smears about anybody that is not them – he makes it seem like nonviolence training sessions are military “maneuvers.” Jara would have portrayed Martin Luther King as a violent terrorist with that level of distortion.

This episode in Francisco Jara’s felony against journalism is instructive if one learns to read between the lines. When all evidence points to the Honduran civil resistance choosing an avowedly nonviolent path to topple the coup regime, it has become increasingly important for coup supporters to try and claim the opposition is violent. However, all the evidence of the past month has been that it has been the coup that has exercised a monopoly on the use of violence, often brutal, and today mortal.

Be on the alert for more such distortions from make-believe “journalists” like Francisco Jara in the coming days. He and they are an embarrassment to our profession. The good news is that we, too, have a “peaceful popular army” of Authentic Journalists working around the clock to correct their falsehoods and report the real facts. And if Jara or any other such piece of mercenary refuse from the human garbage dump wants to try and distort my words, too, we’re more than ready for them.

Meanwhile, I opine, AFP ought to fire his sorry ass.

Update: Reuters reporter Gabriela Donoso gets the story right:

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya vowed on Saturday to return to power through peaceful means and denied he was rallying groups of armed supporters near the border with Nicaragua...


"I am not forming any armed military force, although I have the means to do it because I come from a state where there are weapons everywhere," Zelaya, a logging magnate originally from the ranching state of Olancho, told Honduran television.

"We do not use arms," the left-leaning Zelaya said.

That's called a push back and it's what social movements too often have to do in the face of commercial media simulation.

Update II: The Field today joins the rest of Narco News' content among the news sources featured by Google News. All our posts here will now show up in news searches there.




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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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