Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Radio Orquedia in Guadalupe Carney, Bajo Aguan

Community radio as the voice of the campesino communities

Community Radio has been an important tool for communities in permanent resistance in Honduras in the cities and the countryside. It is used by youth, labor, indigenous and campesinos communities. Since the coup d’etat the radio stations have suffered repression, shut downs by army and police forces, and threats and assassinations.
The La Voz delegation visited stations in Triunfo de la Cruz, La Esperanza, Progreso and in Bajo Aguan on January 24, we visited a radios run for and by the campesinos themselves, Radio Orquedia in the community of Guadalupe Carney. We talked to one of the founders of the radio station and of Guadalupe Carney, Adolfo Cruz and with some of the young and not so young compass who now do programming and broadcasts.

The community of Guadalupe Carney was founded in 2000 through a land recuperation of a closed military base in Aguan. Adolfo Cruz explained that early on the campesinos wanted to build their own radio station and on December 14, 2004 they inaugurated Radio Orquedia in a small building with no electricity - only 2 small solar panels; a small antenana and with equipment donated by solidarity organizations. The campesinos themselves had only the most basic training in radio broadcasting but were able to broadcast regularly to the whole community. Later through international solidarity, the station acquired a new antenna tower and the campesinos built a facility with electricity. Now the radio reaches several municipalities in the region with 30-40 thousand listeners. Cruz told us that the radio has three functions: to entertain; to inform; and to provide education and orientation to the community. Not long ago the radio staff which is mostly young campesinos and campesinas conducted a poll to see what the community wanted to hear on the radio and from the poll they developed programming to try ad meet most of the desires of the audience. The radio also works as a means of communicating urgent actions and of breaking the commercial media chokehold on information-to the campesinos. Since the coup that activity has made the radios indispensable. Cruz told us that Radio Orquedia was on the air when they got the first phone call telling them that President Zelaya had bee kidnapped by the military – they immediately began broadcasting that a coup d’etat was in progress. On the same day the military tired to shut down the radio but the community massed to defend their radio and the military withdrew. Radio Orquedia broadcasts calls for protests, road takeovers and warnings about police or military repression so that the communities can organize. On November 15th when 5 members of Guadalupe Carney were massacred by oligarch Miguel Facusse’s private army the communities began protesting –by blocking the highway. 1500 military troops moved into the area to disperse the peasants and when Radio Orquedia got word of the troop movement they broadcast the warning to all the surrounding communities to prepare. The military carried out a 10 day siege of Guadalupe Carney and one day they surrounded the radio station and tried to enter and destroy the equipment and take it off the air. Again the community mobilized when the news was broadcast and rallied to the station – the military was not able to take the station off the air or destroy it.

Byron Morales one of the young campesinos involved in the radio project told us that participating in the radio project is wonderful for him and that the project is very important for young people in the community because it gives them something important to do that they like to do. Programming includes children’s shows, rock, traditional, rancheros, commentary and more.
Cruz told the delegation that they now have collaboration with Radio Progreso to receive some shows from that more established station. Radio Progreso is also working to organize a network of the community radios across the county. They hope to be able to connect to the internet soon since the nearby town of Trujillo has internet and they are looking to replace some of their old and damaged equipment and are looking for donations of a mixer, computers, and resources to improve their facilities.

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