(updated to link to image of CONATEL order)
The government of Honduras, in the form of the Comision Nacional de Telecommunicaciones (CONATEL), has issued an order to close the opposition TV station, Cholusat Sur, Channel 36 in Tegucigalpa in 4 days.
Why? you might ask.
For an "attempt against the economy" of Honduras.
It all begins in June of this year, with Channel 36 covering the news story that the Banco Ficohsa and more importantly, its Honduran owner, Camilo Atala, have been charged in Panama with money laundering.
This is not speculation. This is not rumor. It's a fact.
Atala is head of the Honduran branch of the Consejo Empresarial de America Latina (CEAL). This was the group that hired Lanny Davis in 2009 to lobby then- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton not to declare the Honduran coup a military coup. Atala is a powerful member of the Honduran elite.
In the current news coverage, Esdras Amado López has been reporting how Banco Ficohsa in Honduras moved $1.5 million dollars (about 33 million lempiras) as part of the IHSS scandal, without fulfilling the CNBS paperwork requirements for the transfer. The IHSS scandal is what initially fueled and continues to inspire the torchlit marches against corruption that also include demands for the resignation of President Juan Orlando Hernández.
The money moved by Banco Ficohsa, Amado Lopez reports, was requested by IHSS head Mario Zelaya to pay bribes to facilitate payment of the Compania de Servicios Multiples and its subsidiary, Central American Technologies. These were payments for goods and services that were never delivered.
Amado Lopez says that both the US Department of Justice and the Fiscalia
de Chile have documentation linking the Banco Ficohsa to the illegal
movement of IHSS monies.
Chile is where one of Mario Zelaya's
mistresses lives and she is charged in the IHSS scandal.
Department of Justice allegedly knows about the money sent from
Honduras to Panama by the Banco Ficohsa, then deposited in MultiBank in
Panama. Reportedly, the funds were then transferred to a bank in Louisiana where Mario Zelaya used them to buy real estate, property now confiscated for the
government of Honduras by the US Department of Justice.
Other news sources have reported on this story, both inside of and outside of Honduras, citing court papers in Louisiana as the source of their information.
CONATEL, in its notification to Cholusat Sur that it was beginning procedures to shut down the station, said that this reporting was "an attempt against the economy" of Honduras in violation of the Constitution, the Telecommunications regulations, and the Administrative regulations.
So, it is now officially an "attempt against the economy" to report facts in Honduras.