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Radio La Voz de Mi Gente in Tacuba, El Salvador, Denounces Threats to Community and Indigenous Media

By Radio La Voz de Mi Gente

Since its inception in 2005, our community radio station has been amplifying the struggles and rights of Nahuat Pipiles communities in the municipality of Tacuba in the department of Ahuachapán, El Salvador.

As youth organizers, we launched our media platform in 2015. We have been working with the Indigenous communities through an alliance with the Association of Participatory Broadcasting of El Salvador (ARPAS), obtaining a transmitter donated by UNESCO and sharing the frequency 92.1FM with the other community radio stations of El Salvador belonging to ARPAS. 

From 2015-2021, community radio transmitted their programs, news, and campaigns to the Indigenous communities without any interference. With the change of government in 2021, the General System of Electricity and Telecommunications of El Salvador sent a notice to ARPAS ordering the closure of 92.1FM and threatening to fine us $500,000 if we did not comply. For this reason, we were forced to close the station. The same thing happened to two other community radio stations: Radio Copinula, located in the municipality of Guaymango in the department of Ahuachapán, and Radio Fonseca, located in the Gulf of Fonseca in the department of La Unión in the eastern part of the country.

We, the broadcasters of Radio La Voz de Mi Gente, now continue to exercise our rights with even more commitment to continue defending the right to freedom of expression, opinion, and the use of media. Currently we are carrying out all organizational and communications work through our digital platforms, as it is also important to raise public awareness about the democratization of the internet for communities and countries with higher rates of rights violations.

The following is information reposted from Deutsche Welle in Spanish

El Salvador is currently experiencing serious and critical conditions for the media, journalists, and communicators. The so-called “war” against gangs launched at the end of March by President Nayib Bukele has extended from the streets to the courts with criminal reforms approved by the legislature, which, for the journalists' union, represent censorship and criminalize their work. One of the amendments promoted by Bukele makes punishable the publication of any written manifestation that alludes to the territorial control of the gangs in El Salvador with up to 15 years in prison. This has raised alarm among the press and international organizations.

Below are the penal reforms that have been approved by the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador by the deputies of the ruling party, New Ideas: 

The new package of amendments prohibits the media from "reproducing and transmitting to the general population messages or press releases originating or presumably originating from said criminal groups, which could generate anxiety and panic in the population.” Bukele's initiative, which he compared to the German fight against Nazism, also declared illegal graffiti or any visual expression that "explicitly or implicitly transmits messages" of the gangs. Representatives of Mesa de Protección a Periodistas, which comprises different organizations, warned that the reforms are one more step on the road to violating the right to freedom of the press and "deepening of the deceit in the speeches of the government" against those who practice journalism.

"They have begun to deepen this discourse that journalists are defending gangs. That is not true; we must make it clear," said Serafín Valencia, rapporteur for freedom of expression of the Association of Journalists of El Salvador (APES). Valencia added that the amendments are contrary to the Constitution as they represent "prior censorship," which is prohibited in the Constitution. César Castro Fagoaga, president of APES, affirmed in a press conference that this gag reform is "a clear attempt to censor the media." He warned that with the reform, they consider the possibility of arresting journalists in El Salvador to be very close. "They are trying to legitimize, through spurious decrees, that this possibility [of being arrested] becomes a reality...[to] put a legal surname to any abuse that follows."

Fagoaga said that the most notorious cases of corruption, such as the negotiations of politicians with gangs, have been known first by the press and not by the Public Prosecutor's Office. "Prohibiting journalism from reporting the reality of thousands of people who live in communities controlled by gangs...will create a mirage that is not faithful to the truth," added the journalist.  Erika Guevara Rosas, director for the Americas of Amnesty International, added that the reform seeks to silence independent media, and, in her opinion, Bukele "is following in the footsteps of Ortega, Maduro, and company."

For this reason, we call on all international organizations and media to be vigilant of the violations and infringements of human rights and freedom of expression and opinion in El Salvador.


In 2020, Radio La Voz de Mi Gente received a grant from Cultural Survival's Indigenous Community Media Fund. The Indigenous Community Media Fund provides opportunities for international Indigenous radio stations to strengthen their infrastructure and broadcast systems and creates training opportunities for journalism, broadcasting, audio editing, technical skills, and more for radio journalists from Indigenous communities around the world. In 2021, the Indigenous Community Media Fund supported 57 media projects in 23 countries, totaling $340,500.


Top photo: Members of Radio La Voz de Mi Gente and a Cultural Survival team during a site visit.