The Resurrection of a Honduran Journalist
Days after suffering a double attempt on his life, Felix Molina gets back to work covering the case of slain indigenous leader Berta Caceres
JESSE FREESTON: World Press Freedom Day 2016, and this is where one of Honduras’s most renowned journalists spent the day. Winner of the 2012 Chavkin Award for Journalistic Integrity in Latin America, Felix Molina is a voice of reason for many who live in one of the most unequal and violent countries in the world. His popularity grew greatly after his nightly radio program became the spot for news and debate around the resistance to the 2009 coup d’etat in Honduras.
FELIX MOLINA: [Translated from Spanish] May 2 is the day that I survived two attacks. At noon a young man and woman attempted to shoot me while I was in a taxi on my way to the studio to do my radio show. And that same night, in the same place, because, well, I’m a preacher against fear I had even forgotten that at that intersection, in front of that 5-star hotel, just three blocks from the Presidential Palace, at least one of hte people who attacked me might still be there. This time they succeeded. They stole my phone and then shot me. A single bullet that went right through both of my legs.
FREESTON: Just five days after Felix himself became a victim of the violence he’s reported on he was out of the hospital and back at work, though under new and strict security measures.
MOLINA: A lot has been happening in Honduras while I’ve been stuck in a hospital bed. But, I wanted to do something different. While this country and this city continue to become more like a jungle each day, I went looking for the refuge of the maternal heart. I sought out Austraberta, the mother of Berta Caceres, who for me is a kind of spiritual guide, a healer. She also said publicly, when she heard what happened to me, that she wanted to give me a hug.
AUSTRABERTA FLORES: I’ve been thanking God that they failed to kill you and you’re still with us, alive. You’re one of the journalists who isn’t afraid of them, who speaks the truth. For them, you are a stone in their shoe.
FREESTON: This day was also Austraberta’s first Mother’s Day without her daughter, indigenous Lenca leader Berta Caceres, victim of the most high-profile political assassination in Honduras since the coup.
MOLINA: What was Mother’s Day like with Berta around?
FLORES: She would knock on my door real early. And she would do something she called ‘singing,’ but she wasn’t a good singer. I would tell her that she sang like a toad. Sure, she would say, but a beautiful toad, or a ‘little flea,’ she would call herself. Her hugs. Her little gifts. The little things she would do that she knew I enjoyed. It’s all a giant hole now. Now that it’s happened there’s no possible solution.
FREESTON: Earlier in the day, a judge confirmed that four men will go to trial for the killing of Berta Caceres. Those charged include military officials and employees of the company building one of the hydroelectric dams opposed by Berta’s movement.
FLORES: The entire investigation is only happening because of pressure from the family, and the solidarity of Honduran people and peoples around the world. Now they’ve captured the people that killed her. But I still fear that the intellectual authors will remain in impunity. That’s why we are still demanding an independent, international investigation.
FREESTON: When members of Berta’s organization COPINH made the trip to the capital to continue demanding an international investigation, they were met with tear gas.
MOLINA: The world needs to be clear that since the coup d’etat Honduras’s public institutions have been taken over. We are losing the country to impunity. For not investigating or punishing crimes committed by the powerful. We’ve been losing the country because we’ve prioritized defense and security over healthcare and education. For believing that insecurity and violence are solved with more police and soldiers.
SPEAKER: A society like this won’t last much longer if it keeps bleeding out in this way. I lived it.
MOLINA: One emergency room at the publich hospital with capacity for up to 15 people. On the night that I was shot there were 25 of us in there. The majority with bullet wounds.
SPEAKER: Felix, it’s a miracle that the bullet didn’t even hit a bone.
MOLINA: The slogan on the walls says: “Berta dind’t die, she multiplied.”
FLORES: That’s right. She didn’t die, she multiplied. The executioners made a mistake. Berta now lives in the hearts of all the social movements in the world. And we ask the world to continue supporting us, because if not, justice in Honduras is a complete farce.
MOLINA: So, after getting that hug from Austraberta, mother of my friend Berta Caceres, I then headed to meet with my own mom, Dona Chalia. She was obviously worried about me, she wanted to touch me to be certain that her 13th child, of her grand flock of 14, was truly okay.
Of course that’s an intimate moment with my mother. But what happened to me isn’t personal. When a journalist with visibility and more than 30 years of experience survives an attack, it’s good news that generates hope. So even though the hug from my mom was so personal, I think recording it brings some hope and tenderness to this crazy reality that we’re living.
DONA CHALIA: I’m 96 years old. Now in my 97th year. And I feel the beauty in my spirit. For all the family, I send you a giant hug. And a special kiss for all the mothers here. And those who aren’t family get one, too. And now a big applause for this great blessing.
MOLINA: To life!
DONA CHALIA AND FAMILY: Cheers!
FREESTON: From Honduras for the Real News Network, this is Jesse Freeston.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.