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S. Nasralla: Address to World Summit 2020

Address to World Summit 2020, Seoul, Korea, February 3-8, 2020


I am Salvador Nasralla, founder of the Anti-Corruption Party of Honduras, with which I entered politics in 2011. Unofficially I won the elections for president of my country in 2013 and 2017, but I was a victim of the corrupt system by which the popular will is not respected.

I have been working in radio and television media for 53 years. I am also a civil engineer, a master in business administration from the Catholic University of Santiago de Chile, where I had to experience life systems with governments of three different ideologies: Christian Democracy (1970), socialism (1970-1973), and military dictatorship (1973-1977).

Journalism is a noble profession because, exercised cleanly and without pressure, it allows people in a country and the world to learn about reality, but following the poverty of many nations, especially those in the Third World where there is no justice in wages, the profession has degenerated and ends up distorting the reality of events, many times by 100 percent. Beyond the knowledge of general culture and the news that every journalist must have, above all that are the ethics and morals that they always must keep in mind.

There are countries, like Honduras in Central America, where the salaries of journalists are below the minimum wage, and we also must consider that 70 percent of the population live in poverty and 40 percent in extreme poverty that allows them to eat only once a day. Journalism in countries with high rates of corruption has become a great business in the last 30 years, since politicians need allies who deface the reality of events through the media. In my country it is very common that most journalists receive 80 percent of their income from politicians or corrupt businessmen, especially now that social networks exist and therefore provide a better universe in which to disseminate information diverted from reality. I don't mean fake news; I mean lies that most journalists disclose, making them become credible realities.

The policy seen today as a business has its best ally in journalism, because a repeated daily lie ends up making a strong impact on people's minds and is installed as an irrefutable truth. Hundreds of journalists in my country have no salary, but they need sponsors to be able to participate in radio or television programs. As the economy is depressed, the best advertiser or the one with the most money to spend is the government, but it conditions its payments to those journalists who follow the line of lies they want to embed in the population. The corrupt businessman tells the journalist, "I am going to help you," and assigns a salary of approximately $400 per month to many journalists who work in different media with which the company or the government has an excellent image and can continue stealing, evading taxes or doing dirty business against the interests of the majority.

The most influential journalists, or those who have more time in the media, are the ones who charge the most, and governments assume that they have to continue paying, even if there is a change of government, so as not to be reported in the media as corrupt. Therefore, there are media directors who can earn $15,000 per month for allowing corrupt reporters to work under their command and for installing the line of corruption they must defend through the daily news. This includes hiding the few complaints that eventually are made by some honest journalists who always exist or the accusations that appear and go viral on social networks.

In the absence of ethics and morality as a rule of conduct, it turns out that the journalist who has no other income ends up being a victim of the corrupt system, because that way he achieves a better quality of life for him and his family. Thus, throughout history many Honduran journalists have had no problems receiving bribes with checks in the name of distant relatives, children, wife, brothers, and even scholarships to study abroad that the government gives to their children and relatives.

As can be deduced, the main challenge is to once again instill the ethics and morals that were lost in part by the globalization of the world and also, in our case, by the forced emigration of people to the United States in search of obtaining income to improve their quality of life. This has generated a social problem in the division of families, since 20 percent of our population lives between the United States and Spain. Normally the family man emigrates first, leaving his wife and his children, and forms another home in the place where the income is produced. Many incomes, which constitute 70 percent of the annual economic growth of the country at the rate of $20 million a day, enter Honduras in official sum more unofficially sent by relatives who live abroad.

When children grow up without a father figure in disintegrated homes, they are victims of a society in which they grow up without values and are easily obliged to get money in illicit businesses, including small-scale marketing of drugs and the transit of drugs. Our country transports 80 percent of the drugs that pass from South America to the United States in an amount never less than 80 tons of cocaine per month. This is a very lucrative business, for which the United States justice has imprisoned and condemned the brother of the president of the republic. This transit of drugs also generates a huge number of deaths every day, and journalists are responsible for hiding it through the media or minimizing the importance of that news.

As a consequence, there are many widows and orphaned children who grow up without ethical or moral values. Eradicating this scourge is a national-level challenge in which I am working, more than a journalism challenge.

The Western world is extraordinarily money-related, and it is very common for corrupt officials to offer bribes even to international officials of famous organizations representing the conglomerate of countries in America, Europe and the world. The challenge must be that the journalist is hired for merit and not for being willing to follow a paid journalistic line. For women, the challenge must be to exercise their profession without being victims of sexual harassment.

There are laws that protect human rights, as well as talk about ethics and morals, but they are of little use because those responsible for applying them are corrupt, drug traffickers and thieves. If the owner of a media outlet is the government, the current problem of journalism is accentuated, but in a world without values, such as the current one, if the owners of the media are entrepreneurs who also have other businesses, if they do not align themselves with the government in spreading lies, either they are accused of being tax evaders through paid journalists or else their businesses are boycotted. The journalist who does not follow the line of the media is fired, many times by order of the government. The media that do not respond to government orders or choose not to spread the requested lie are closed.

The theft to the government coffers is $7 million a day from the money produced by the country or from what it borrows from international organizations or from friendly countries such as South Korea, Taiwan and others. If we add to this the profits from the transport of 80 tons of drugs, we conclude that it is a game in which dirty money wins.

If we add to this the geopolitical influence which the powers that dominate the world offer in exchange for votes or special permits to dominate other powers, it is concluded that the problem is difficult to solve immediately, because even corrupt rulers now create parallel organizations of civil society to combat those who truly represent the people. In Honduras, many journalists have been killed for being involved in dirty businesses, for having confidential information about corruption or for not lending themselves to spreading lies.

The challenge must be not to accept a line dictated by governments and to make periodic meetings of journalists of the world like this one, since in this way we will contribute to world peace. We have a great responsibility in our journalistic work. Thank you.



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