In early June, the network of Cultural Survival's partner community radio stations in Guatemala got together once again in the training center in San Mateo, Quetzaltenango for a two-day workshop on the best practices of community radio. Participants arrived from all over the country, as far as an 8 hour bus ride to spend the weekend among friends and colleagues of the community radio movement. The workshop marked 18 months since the initiation of the ‘pilot’ radio network, that incorporates the best and brightest community radio stations into a network that produce audio content for broadcast in Indigenous languages and Spanish. Over the course of these 18 months, a sense of solidarity has developed among the participants despite the distance of their communities on varying extremes of the country. This unity proves a key factor to an effective network– when the station Uqul Tinamit was raided last month, another station offered to lend them an old transmitter to help them get back on the air. “It needs some repairs,” explained Victor Sanchez of the station Xilotepek, “but it’s yours if you need it.” Other stations have joined in to support their fellow radio stations and communities. When a community leader was shot by security forces of hydroelectric company in the town of Barillas, Huehuetenango, the neighboring town’s radio station Snuq Jolom Konob reported live coverage on the events, while the network of pilot stations tuned into their broadcast online to share with their own communities across the country.
Participants stay connected while they aren’t at workshops through a Facebook group especially for the community radio volunteers, where they post information for broadcast, links to events, share photos, and socialize.
Rossy Gonzalez, of the community radio station Ixchel in Sumpango Sacatepequez, commented on a photo taken at one of the workshops: “This photo displays a meeting of Guatemalan women who fight for the defense of our rights, for freedom of expression by means of community radios, which is our right as indigenous peoples.”
The next pilot radio workshop will take place next Saturday, July 7, 2012 regarding the historical memory of the armed conflict in Guatemala.
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