Apparent threat left for journalists at Honduran newspaper a month after attack on director

Employees from Honduran newspaper El Libertador found a message appearing to threaten its journalists in front of their offices on Sept. 21 in Tegucigalpa. This comes a month after newspaper director Johnny Lagos and his wife, Lurbin Yadira, also a journalist, survived a shooting.

Someone spray painted the contour of a human body, like the kind done by forensic professionals at murder scenes, and the acronym RIP, on the street in front of the newspaper's offices.

According to El Libertador, the drawing was found at dawn by newspaper employees and was reported to the Honduran National Police on the same day.

The newspaper reported two hypotheses: that it is a "bad joke made by someone insensitive to the social reality of the country" or "some kind of warning message" related to the attack on Lagos and Cerrato on Aug. 24.

At the time, the couple was attacked by unknown men in a vehicle after leaving the offices of El Libertador. Lagos said five shots were fired at him and his wife.

The director of El Libertador also said that during the attack, one of the shooters shouted at the other: "It's him, kill that son of a bitch." Lagos was uninjured, while Cerrato was shot in the left shoulder. The gunmen, who also stole a briefcase with documents from the journalist, fled shortly after the attack and so far have not been identified.

The Honduran police classified the incident as an attempted robbery. "It was a robbery. The individuals used firearms and put the lives of the victims at risk," police said shortly after the attack, according to the AP.

According to C-Libre (Committee for Freedom of Expression), Lagos and Cerrato have since been placed under special protection from the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders, Journalists, Communicators and Justice Operators.

C-Libre also said in a statement that "Honduras is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalism," and more than 60 journalists and journalists have been murdered in the country since 2003.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.