Guatemalan Public Ministry Raids Radio Juventud in Solola

December 09, 2014

On Tuesday, December 9, 2014, at around 10:30 am Radio Juventud was raided by the Guatemalan Public Ministry, while Olga Ajcalon was on air broadcasting her women’s rights and education program. Radio Juventud has been serving the rural community of Sololá, Guatemala for over 10 years and has greatly contributed to educating and informing the surrounding communities. Radio Juventud broadcasts a majority of its programs in the local Indigenous language, Kaqchiqel, and counts women, children, elders and many youth among its members.

Around 10:30 am two police trucks carrying about 20 policemen arrived at Radio Juventud where they asked to see the owner of the building. The police were accompanied by 10 government representatives, who spoke to the owner, meanwhile the police proceeded to cut off all the power at the location. The police seized all the visible equipment including pens, papers, notes and pictures. The raid lasted no more than 15 minutes. Olga Ajcalon, the station volunteer, did not speak to them as to avoid conflict and arrest.

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The Solola Indigenous Municipality that oversees all indigenous issues providing all services in the local indigenous language.

Once the police and government representatives left, all of Radio Juventud’s staff members were called. Staff agreed that this incident had to be reported to the Indigenous authorities in Solola. As a result, Indigenous elders held a meeting at the Sololá Indigenous Municipality where they heard the details of the incident from the affected. The general conclusion was that Radio Juventud has been an important tool for the rural communities of Sololá, providing access to communication to many who would not otherwise have it. Recognizing that Radio Juventud has protected the rights of its community, the community decided to stand up and demand the return of all the station’s equipment.

At around 3:10 pm over 50 indigenous leaders marched to the courthouse and demanded to speak to the judge who had authorized the raid. The judge spoke to the leaders and stated that he had signed the permission without understanding the effect it would have on the community. The Indigenous authorities began protesting in front of the courthouse at around 4:00 pm and demanded that the judge petition the Office of the Public Prosecutor and the National Police to return of all the confiscated equipment.

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Radio Juventud's volunteers wait outside the courthouse office to hear the judges decision on the matter. 

The judge scheduled a hearing, for today Wednesday, December 10th, between the Indigenous Municipality, the Office of the Public Prosecutor and the National Police to identify the causes of this event. Only the representatives from the Indigenous Municipality appeared at the scheduled 8:00 am hearing. Three hours went by before the judge announced that the hearing would be rescheduled given that the two other parties failed to appear.

The people of Sololá will continue to wait and peacefully protest outside the courthouse until justice is served.