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Perspectives

July 10, 2009
Political cartoonist detained by armed forces in Honduras

One of Allan McDonald’s cartoons, courtesy of the artist.

Political upheaval continues in Honduras, after liberal leader Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a military coup in late June.

The military has clamped down on pro-Zelaya channels in the country and blocked the signal of Telesur, a left-leaning television network based in Venezuela.

Ask your questions on media battles in Honduras for our online radio show on Tuesday, July 14.

Honduran political cartoonist Allan McDonald, who had published several cartoons in support of Zelaya, was arrested and detained by the Honduran Armed Forces, who destroyed his materials and cartoons. He joined Worldfocus to describe his experience, and the interview is translated from Spanish below.

Worldfocus: Why did they arrest you and can you describe what happened?

Allan McDonald: Fui detenido en circunstancias complejas, yo me encontraba en mi casa, había dejado la puerta abierta para que entrara un poco de luz, pues se había cortabo la electricidad, y eran ya altas horas de la noche, casi 2 de la mañana, algo así, no recuerdo la hora exacta, porque no sabia donde verla, entro la policia, y dijo que me detenían por que había violado el estado de sitio, que yo tenia la casa con puertas abiertas, esta bien les dije, pero estaba con una nina pequena, asique no podia dejarla, estaba solo.

Así que ellos me dijeron que la dejara con un vecino pero no quise despertar a nadie, menos a esa hora, así que me llave conmigo, no se a donde me llevaron, todo Honduras no había luz, supongo que por la estructura del edificio era un hotel, y alli permaneci 5 horas, no hubo maltratos a nadie.

I was arrested under complex circumstances. They found me in my house. I had left the door open for a little light, but they had cut the electricity and it was already very late at night, almost 2:00 in the morning, something like that (I do not remember exactly because I couldn’t see). The police entered and said they were going to arrest me because I had violated curfew and had left the doors open. Well, I told them that’s fine, but I was with a small girl, and I could not leave her alone.

They told me to leave her with a neighbor but I did not want to wake anyone, especially at that hour, so I brought her with me. I didn’t know where they were taking me, all of Honduras was dark. I thought from the structure of the building that it might be a hotel. I was there for five hours and they didn’t harm anyone.

Political cartoonist Allan McDonald was detained by Honduran armed forces and told he violated curfew.

Worldfocus: What prompted your release?

Allan McDonald: En la detención, tuvo acceso un diplomático, solo el pudo tener eses acceso porque era extranjero y tenia que avisar a sus embajada, era un Venezolano y el aviso, le pedí un mensaje y me cedió su computadora personal y así pude escribirle a una periodista que de inmediato alerto la comunidad internacional, Amnistia Internacional logro la liberación de todos, casi alas 5 de la mañana, o mas tarde, quizá 6 a.m.

In detention, I had access to a diplomat. I only could have this access because he was a foreigner and had to advise his embassy. He was Venezuelan and he said that I could use his personal computer and I was able to write a journalist and immediately alert the international community. Amnesty International won the freedom of everyone. This was at 5:00 in the morning, or even later, maybe 6:00 a.m.

Worldfocus: Is media free and open in Honduras? How is the current government treating journalists?

Allan McDonald: No existe en este momento ninguna libertad de prensa, también existe la autocensura, y al acomodamiento de la prensa frente a los hechos, antes de este golpre ya la prensa estaba polarizada frente a Zelaya, los medios callaron siempre la verdad en este asunto, hay videos e imágenes manipuladas por los medios.

At this moment, freedom of the press does not exist. There are self-censorship and some inaccuracies when it comes to the facts. Before this coup, the press was already polarized and set against Zelaya. The media always silenced the truth in this matter, and manipulated videos and images.

Worldfocus: Where are people getting their information?

Allan McDonald: Esta batalla contra la censura y contra la dictadura y la desinformación se esta librando desde Google, desde allí la genta se informa, otro media sin censura fueron los mesanjitos vía celular, que acá en Honduras todo el mundo tiene uno, mas no todos tiene acceso al Internet.

This battle against censorship and against dictatorship and disinformation is freed by Google. It is here the people get informed. Other media without censorship were cell phone messages. Here in Honduras, everyone has one, but not everyone has access to the Internet.

A cartoon by Allan McDonald paints a dim picture of Honduran democracy.

Worldfocus: What is your opinion about the situation in Honduras? How should the crisis be resolved?

Allan McDonald: El Departamento de Estado hizo o correcto, aca esta totalmente dividido, entre ricos y pobres, no hay ideologías, es lucha de clases, pero los pactos deben ser en us país neutral tal como U.S. hizo, dándole espacio a Costa Rica, creo que alli esta la luz al final del túnel, sin embargo el propio Micheletti desde ahora se opone al regreso de Zelaya, eso va contra lo manifestado de U.S. y su deseo de arreglar este asunto ya demasiado espinoso. Esta es la primera vez que me alegro que intervenga Estados Unidos a un país.

The State Department did right. Here it is completely divided between rich and poor — not between ideologies. This is a class struggle. But it should be resolved by a neutral country, like the U.S. did by asking Costa Rica to take over negotiations. I believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but Micheletti is going to oppose the return of Zelaya, which goes against the declaration of the U.S. and the desire to fix this already too-thorny matter. This is the first time that I am happy the United States intervened in a country.

Worldfocus: Has public opinion at large swayed in favor of or against Zelaya?

Allan McDonald: Si, y es fácil saberlo, sino fuera asi, no habría tanta censura, hasta las cadenas internacionales como CNN les cortan su senal desde acá, ponen cadenas para que nadie se da cuenta que dice el mundo, ahora la población no esta en las calles por Zelaya, sino por la barbarie que hacen, suprimir garantias individuales, toques de queda, censura, y balas, ya el ejercito abre fuego y ya hay 2 victimas comprobadas y centenares de detenidos y amanazados, la prensa no dice nada.

Yes, and it is easy to know — if there wasn’t so much censorship, since even international stations like CNN are cut off from the public. Now, the population isn’t in the streets for Zelaya, but for the barbarism that they do, to suppress individual rights. The curfews, censorship and bullets…already, they have opened fire and already two have been killed (this has been verified), and hundreds of people have been arrested and threatened, and the press does not say anything.

Translated by Katie Combs and Ivette Feliciano.

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Comments

6 comments

#6

[…] I also did an email interview with a political cartoonist detained by armed forces in Honduras, which was an interesting […]

#5

[…] Honduras recently, cartoonist Allan McDonald (interview) was detained for 24 hours, had his studio ransacked and cartoons and drawing materials destroyed […]

#4

“Probrecito Gringo”,i.e., poor unfortunate gringo – a phase that save me from the Colombian military on the streets of Bogotá. Sometime humor helps, even in situations that ultimately may require force of arms to over turn the rule of tyrants.

#3

Hi Malcolm,

I can’t speak to the darkness/scene in Honduras or Mr. McDonald’s personal experience, but there have been several reports that CNN en Espanol has been interrupted or cut off in some locations, though perhaps not continuously:

http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSN29399379
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/americas/story/1122536.html
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-07/06/content_11660585.htm

We are actually doing an online radio show on media coverage in & outside of Honduras, though, so if your experience is different we would welcome your emails and questions:

http://worldfocus.org/blog/2009/07/09/qa-ask-your-questions-on-media-battles-in-honduras/6219/

Thanks,

Katie
Worldfocus.org

#2

I won’t question what happened to Allan McDonald, but a couple of things he says don’t wring true. He said “I didn’t know where they were taking me, all of Honduras was dark.” I live in Tegucigalpa and have yet to be without electricity during the night, or any time for that matter. He also said that “even international stations like CNN are cut off from the public.” That also is not true. There has been no meddling with TV broadcasts that I am aware of, and I am regularly checking the TV stations, both US and Honduran for the latest.

#1

Allan “Gringo” McDonald knows he couldn’t get away with a racist cartoon like that in the US…but it’s ok in Honduras? What a disgrace…then he breaks the curfew law and whines about getting arrested? wtf

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