March 24, 2015 — A new documentary that explores violence and injustice in Honduras through the perspective of journalists at a Jesuit-run radio station was released today, coinciding with the 35th anniversary of Archbishop Oscar Romero's murder in neighboring El Salvador.
Directed by Jesuit Father Jeremy Zipple, executive editor of America Films, the release of “La Voz del Pueblo” is a collaborative effort of America Magazine, Ignatian Solidarity Network and the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States.
The 18-minute documentary, as well as an educational resource guide, are available online: www.ignatiansolidarity.net/la-voz-del-pueblo.
The documentary features the staff of Radio Progreso, including Jesuit Father Ismael Moreno Coto, popularly known as Padre Melo, a Jesuit priest and human rights activist in his native Honduras who directs Radio Progreso and Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación (ERIC). The organizations’ work includes: grassroots radio programming; training on human rights; urging greater government transparency and accountability; community organizing and empowerment; combating violence against women; the formation of leadership committed to social change; and assisting returned migrants. Padre Melo’s most recent trip to the United States to meet with legislators and human rights advocates included a keynote address at the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s national conference, the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice.
The timing of the release to coincide with the anniversary of Archbishop Romero’s murder was intended to call attention to the urgent humanitarian crisis in Central America’s Northern Triangle today, said Jesuit Father Bill Kelley, Secretary for Social and International Ministries at the Jesuit Conference in Washington. “Our brother Jesuits and their lay colleagues at Radio Progreso and ERIC keep alive the legacy of Archbishop Romero’s prophetic voice for human rights in the region. They continue their efforts to call attention to the violence and impunity that haunts Honduras despite threats to their physical safety, much as Archbishop Romero’s witness placed him in the crossfire 35 years ago,” noted Fr. Kelley.
Romero, initially seen as a conservative who would maintain the status quo when named bishop of the Archdiocese of San Salvador in 1977, became one of the most well-recognized critics of government-sponsored oppression during El Salvador’s 12-year civil war. Known for reading the names of innocent civilians killed during his weekly homilies, Romero was murdered by the members of the U.S.-funded Salvadoran military while celebrating mass in 1980. Recently the Vatican verified his status as a martyr of the Church and announced his impending beatification, which will take place on May 23 in San Salvador.
Honduras, just a 2.5 hour flight from Houston, had the highest homicide rate in world in 2014. In addition to violence, Honduras is plagued by crippling poverty and inequality. Thirty percent of Hondurans are living on less than $2 a day, and in rural areas six out of 10 households live in extreme poverty. [Source: Ignatian Solidarity Network]