Support grassroots radio around the world: More stations raided in Guatemala
From Cultural Survival
Another popular community radio station belonging to the Guatemala Radio Project network was raided last month. Stereo Lago, broadcasting from Panajachel, was shut down by armed guards from the Public Ministry who seized their equipment. The radio stations' right to broadcast is enshrined in the Guatemalan Peace Accords that ended 36 years of civil war, the Guatemalan constitution, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but not in Guatemala's telecommunications law. We are continuing to meet with members of congress in Guatemala City and are putting community radio legislation on their agenda to finalize the reform to the law. We still need your help to send more volunteers to the capital to lobby their representatives.Guatemala Radio Project
Cesar Gomez, GRP Coordinator
“Before we started the radio station in Palin eight years ago, our language, Pocomam, was only spoken in our homes. Now Pocomam is spoken everywhere-in offices, in the streets. Without community radio, we might have lost our native tongue.”—Cesar Gomez, GRP Coordinator
Listen to a broadcast
The Guatemalan army couldn't wipe out Mayan culture, but American Idol can.
The indigenous peoples of Guatemala have kept their culture through 500 years of colonization, brutal repression, and, most recently, 36 years of genocide that killed 200,000 Maya. But where brute force failed, globalization is succeeding. Mainstream Western entertainment is now flooding Guatemala‘s airwaves, hammering home the 24-hour-a-day message that Mayans should abandon their languages, their clothing, their spirituality, and their identities. And the only thing holding back this tidal wave of homogeneity is a network of tiny 500-watt radio stations.
Cultural Survival is partnering with Guatemalan nongovernmental organizations to strengthen this network of 140 community radio stations across the country, many of which broadcast in one or more of the country’s 23 indigenous languages. The stations provide news, educational programming, health information, and traditional music, all reinforcing pride in Mayan heritage. We provide the equipment and organizational expertise; they provide the people and the passion. And it’s working: languages on the brink of extinction have come back into common use; marimba music that was being replaced with top-40 songs is being played again; and people are wearing the distinctive traje that defines where they come from and who they are. But the job has only begun. A loophole in Guatemalan laws allows the police to shut down stations and confiscate equipment, and they are doing this with increasing frequency. We need your help to shore up this fragile network of protection for Mayan communities and cultures.
If there's a model of hope for the world's indigenous peoples, it is the town of Todos Santos Cuchumatán in northwestern Guatemala. The Mayans who live here still wear their traditional clothing with pride and practice their traditional ceremonies and customs, and 95 percent of the population still speaks Mam. At the same time, the people of Todos Santos also participate vigorously in the larger society and have a thriving economy. The key to this indigenous success story is Radio Qman Txun, the town's community radio station.
The Alliance for International Reforestation (AIRES) which plants trees, establishes tree nurseries, provides environmental education, digs wells, and builds fuel-efficient brick ovens, will fund environmental radio content which is dated to begin mid April. AIRES has agreed to underwrite four, 15 minute radio programs to be broadcast throughout Guatemala and translated into the four most commonly spoken languages. These programs (produced and distributed by the CGCC) will serve to educate the public about sustainable farming practices.