MBI received a call today from Radio K’ekchi’ that the Guatemalan Public Ministry went after Radio K’ekchi’ again and took their control board and computer that they were utilizing. The Guatemalan Public Ministry also charged Radio K’ekchi’ a fine of $1,000.00. This is not the first time this has happened and Radio K’ekchi’ is not alone. In Guatemala there exist over 100 indigenous community radio stations in Guatemala that are being persecuted by the Public Ministry utilizing their national police force. In Guatemala indigenous communities don’t have explicit rights to use radio frequencies, though their right to exist is guaranteed by the country’s Peace Accords in clause H. A policy of public auction for bandwidth passed later in the same year in 1996 has made gaining that access all, but impossible for grassroots groups operating in the interest of indigenous and rural communities.
Since 1996, the process of legalization for community radio stations has been in process and to date four legal initiatives have been proposed by various sectors. These advances have provoked the reaction of business owners that have a monopoly on commercial media, which attacks, discredits, persecutes community radio stations.
The Government of Guatemala has not had the will to create legislation where indigenous peoples can access our own radio frequencies. There are many indigenous people in Guatemala living in remote areas, where access to information and technology is limited. Radio to many of them is an essential tool for communication.
Radio K’ekchi’ did acquire a new frequency which is now 103.1 FM. They now have to pay several thousand Quetzales each month for their license. MBI needs your prayers and the financial assistance of our partners to aid Radio K’ekchi’ with this situation. We are also in the search of a rare and unique PCB for Radio Luz for their backup transmitter. Radio Luz has been off the air for a couple of weeks.