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Police Raid Mayan Community Radio Stations

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  • George Lessard
    ... Subject: [aboriginaljournalists] Police Raid Radio Stations From: Bob Kennedy Date: Fri, October 31, 2008 13:12 Via:
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 31, 2008
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      ---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
      Subject: [aboriginaljournalists] Police Raid Radio Stations
      From: "Bob Kennedy" <infocom@...>
      Date: Fri, October 31, 2008 13:12
      Via: aboriginaljournalists@yahoogroups.com

      Community Radio Needs Legal Support


      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 station's programs reinforce the
      local language and the culture while also bringing news from the
      nation and the world into the town. The station is all the more
      important because the whole country of Guatemala is flooded with
      Western music, information, and cultural standards, and without Radio
      Qman Txun, those influences would quickly overwhelm the town.

      But Radio Qman Txun, along with all the other community radio
      stations in Guatemala, is at extreme risk. Elements in the government
      do not want these stations to succeed. In past few weeks police have
      raided four radio stations near Todos Santos and confiscated all the
      equipment. The country's constitution guarantees the right to
      community radio, but the telecommunications law does not, and
      government forces are using the pretext of this law to shut down the
      stations and cut off this vital cultural lifeline.

      This assault on Mayan culture has to stop, and right now we have a
      unique chance to do it: a new telecommunications bill has been
      introduced in the Guatemalan Congress, and recent elections resulted
      in 94 of the 158 members of Congress being new. We have a very short
      window of time to reach these new legislators before they are swamped
      with conflicting agendas. And the math is all too simple: for the new
      bill to pass, 80 legislators must vote for the bill. Currently, we
      have the support of 24; we need 56 more.

      The only way to persuade the rest of the politicians isfor hundreds
      of people from the countryside to go to Guatemala City to meet with
      their congressional representatives and explain just how important
      these stations are to their cultural survival. This needs to happen
      right away, and it is a massive undertaking, requiring funds to pay
      for bus trips, phone cards, lodging, and food. We have volunteers
      willing to take the seven-hour bus ride to the capital to protect
      their freedom of speech, but we need your help to get them there.
      Your contribution will be leveraged into a new democracy and a chance
      for Mayan culture to thrive.

      MORE . . .


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