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Journalist threatened in Atlantic coast area

(C-LIBRE/IFEX) - On 19 June 2009, Alan Adalis Martínez Sánchez, a correspondent for HRN radio station, revealed that for more than two weeks his house has been watched by unidentified armed men. HRN radio station operates out of the municipality of Sabá, in the department of Colón, on Honduras's Atlantic coast.

Martínez Sánchez told C-Libre that the armed individuals watch his movements from a vehicle that is parked in front of his home every night, starting at about 8:00 p.m. (local time). He said that he was not overly concerned about the fact that he was being watched until 7:00 p.m. on 19 June, when one of the three individuals who usually watch him arrived in a separate vehicle, and with a gun in his hand, headed towards Martínez Sánchez's house just as the correspondent's wife, Derlin Yesenia Banegas, and brother-in-law, Walquen Banegas, were about to enter it. Martínez Sánchez said that when his wife saw the gun, she ran into the house while the armed man, without saying anything, pointed his weapon threateningly at Walquen Banegas. Afterward, the man fled along with the other two individuals.

"The men didn't say anything to my family, but I fear for my life," Martínez Sánchez said. He added that he believes the threat against him may be linked to work he has done providing support and advice to farmers affected by the agricultural chemical Nemagón. The chemical was applied to banana plantations in the 1970s and 1980s by transnational companies, such as the Standard Fruit Company, and has been linked to various illnesses, including psychological and sterility problems.

Martínez Sánchez said he is not sure that the threat is coming from this work, but added, "This is what I most suspect, since I have publicly demanded compensation for the farmers affected by way of my radio programme 'Libre Expresión', aired on the Estereo Alegre community radio station."

A high level of insecurity exists in the area where Martínez Sánchez resides due to a lack of police presence coupled with the existence of criminal groups that are involved in transporting drugs coming from South America.

Martínez Sánchez, who has worked for HRN since 1997, said that because of the threat he wants to leave the area but is unable to do so for financial reasons.

The HRN correspondent's situation is another in a series of attacks and threats against journalists in Honduras in 2009, including two as yet unsolved murder cases and two kidnappings.

Juan Carlos Barahona, HRN's national coordinator, said that they will be contacting the Honduras Journalists' Association (Colegio de Periodistas de Honduras) to look into the possibility of providing protection to Martínez Sánchez.

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