On May 8, 2012, at 10:30 AM, Uqul Tinamit community radio station, a Cultural Survival Community Radio Program Partner, that serves the Achi Maya village of San Miguel Chicaj, Baja Verapaz was raided by the Guatemalan police and the Ministerio Publico. Bryan Cristofer Espinoza Ixtapa, the radio station volunteer who was on the air at the time on the raid, was detained by the police. In addition, the radio station’s transmitter, computer, and sound mixer were seized.
Indigenous Peoples’ right to their own media is guaranteed in article 16 of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and was promised in the 1996 Peace Accords that ended the Guatemalan civil war. Despite these promises, the Guatemalan telecommunications law does not allow licenses for nonprofit community radio; only commercial radio and government-run radio are allowed to operate legally.
Community members are aware of their rights to community radio, and they know that their communities need the radio stations. They are determined to continue to exercise their rights and remain on the air even though they face the constant threat of being closed down by the government.
Cultural Survival deplores this action by the government of Guatemala and demands the immediate release of Mr. Espinoza Ixtapa and the return of the seized equipment. In addition, we urge the Guatemalan Congress to take action to pass the pending Community Media Bill (Initiative 4087) that would allow licenses for nonprofit community radio.