From: "Bob Kennedy" <infocom@pro.
Date: Fri, October 31, 2008 13:12
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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