Meet the Corporate PR Firm Hired to Sell a Murderous Foreign Regime to the American Public

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Sarah Lazare, Alternet, April 15, 2016

Hillary Clinton is not the only person doing P.R. to legitimize the government of Honduras that rose to power in the wake of the U.S.-backed 2009 coup, overseeing a dramatic escalation in violence against Indigenous, human rights and environmental defenders.

The powerful U.S.-based P.R. firm Ketchum—which is owned by Omnicom—was paid $421,333 last June for a one-year contract with the Honduran government that continues into the present. One of the largest such agencies in the world, the firm is headquartered in New York and claims to operate in 70 countries on six continents. It describes itself as “a global communications firm that loves to do break through work for clients” and boasts: “we’re just crazy enough to believe you can actually change the world.”

The company is representing the government of Honduras in the midst of an escalating human rights crisis defined by a spate of assassinations of Indigenous environmental activists, including the renowned social movement leader Berta Cáceres. Today, Honduras is one of the most dangerous places on earth for environmental defenders, with activists reporting that death squads are making a comeback. Human rights and environmental groups from around the world are calling on Secretary of State John Kerry to halt military aid to the Honduran government until an investigation into Cáceres’ murder is fully carried out. Meanwhile, new reporting from the New York Times shines light on police leaders’ unchecked power to order assassinations.

Given this reality, it is no surprise that the Honduran government has hired a U.S.-headquartered P.R. firm. As Carol Schachet of the social movement organization Grassroots International put it in an interview with AlterNet, “The government of Honduras is not wanting to change its behavior. They want to change their image.”

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