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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL - Honduras: Radio Macompo, a community and feminist experience (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]

Date Fri, 1 Jun 2018 09:07:17 +0300


In this state of Central America, one of the most violent on the planet, women are organizing to defeat machismo and patriarchy. Presentation of a radio made by women for their emancipation. ---- Honduras, a small Central American country of 8.7 million people, 90% of which is a mixed race and 9% of Amerindians, has been marked by political violence since the birth of the sovereign state in 1838. succession of coups supported by the United States, marks the country XX th century until today: with the coup of 2009 against the democratic president Manuel Zelaya, the Constitution flouted by the current president Juan Orlando Hernandez, who represented himself in the elections of 2017 without having the right, and the suspicion of electoral fraud that tainted the elections of November 26, 2017. Private militias protect the interests of the sectors of activity (mining, deforestation) in relation to the leaders of the army, and commit murders of activist. es. Honduras has the highest rate of political killings in the world, relative to its population. Environmentalists and trade unionists are particularly targeted, and impunity for social and political crimes is almost total.

Violence is also social with the maintenance of the population, especially the rural population, in a chronic underdevelopment, generating well-known illiteracy, delinquency, mafia, high infant mortality.

Political and social violence in Honduras
In this climate, the first victims of violence are women. Abortion is prohibited and punishable by imprisonment. The morning after pill is strictly forbidden. Violence against women every day is extreme: it is estimated that a woman dies every 16 hours. Femicide is the second leading cause of death: 95% of reported violence is not punished [1].

Honduran women are at the heart of struggles against deforestation and the privatization of health and education. They fight for political and social changes, for a transformation of society, a guarantee of a better future for their children. They have everything to gain and nothing to lose, not even their lives that are threatened even in the heart of their homes. They are at the same time the pillar of the family and the main object of violence [2].

Even though they struggle in trade unions or movements alongside men, women in Honduras also have a very great capacity to collectively assemble, among women, for local actions to transform their daily lives. Thus in La Unión, in Olancho, after Hurricane Mitch in 1998, a group of women formed to create, manage and animate an associative radio.

The origins of Radio Macompo
The initiative goes to a small French association, the Latin American North-Cotentin Committee, some of whose members have stayed in Honduras for humanitarian health activities and kept in touch, particularly in Olancho. Olancho is a mountainous region, located in the north of the country, which lacks infrastructure. The inhabitants of Olancho have the reputation of being rebels to the central government (the Olancho demanded its independence in 1877), which has always " punished " them by leaving them in a social and economic underdevelopment (the first school dates from 1930 ).

Not having the means to make the emergency, the French association decided to mount a long-term project. She sent one of its members to the site to identify the needs of the population, that is, the needs of women. The contact was made through the Catholic nuns who live there and carry out health activities with mothers and children. They have set up a pharmacy of herbal products that they grow and process, a source of income for the village women who are employed there.

The women interviewed responded overwhelmingly that the biggest problem was isolation. They wanted to have a tool at their disposal to contact each other from village to village, to teach literacy, education, health and agriculture training, to spread their culture. . They asked for a radio.

Some women in La Uniòn began to meet and formed an association which they named Macompo, that is to say Mujeres Activas para comunicación de los pueblos de Olancho. The group consisted of teachers who were very motivated by the prospect of having an educational tool allowing them to involve both students and parents, a bank employee who volunteered to be trained on the radio, and other women around this core.

In each village, a meeting was organized by a woman at her home. The women came from the countryside to participate, having walked several kilometers, a child on the back. All showed the desire to have a radio for them. Their energy was impressive, at the height of their destitution. It was necessary to find a local, acquire the equipment, train personnel, buy a frequency and obtain the license to emit. The bishopric proposed to install the antenna on a hill belonging to it, without counterpart. It remained to buy a frequency whose price, given the corruption, can go double, and obtain a license to issue while the state is reluctant to promote totally free radios, that is to say to say non-evangelical or commercial.

Feminist and self-managed radio
In 2002, a commercial radio station in La Uniòn ceased broadcasting for economic reasons. The French association financed the purchase of the frequency and equipment already in place. Radio Macompo began broadcasting on February 14, 2004. Since then it has been broadcasting from 5 am to 9 pm.

The radio is objective, service, non-profit. She makes sure to stay independent. It is the Women's Radio, for women, led by women with the objective of enabling access to education for all through educational programs ; relay local and national information ; to inform the inhabitants of Olancho about the health of children and women, including an information program on birth control and sexually transmitted diseases, education, violence, environment, human rights, and to allow access to national and international culture.

The radio transmits in seven very isolated villages of the north of Olancho, about 20 km2. A survey conducted in 2007 shows that of the 50,000 inhabitants of the seven villages concerned, between 25 and 30,000 listen to Radio Macompo.

The original plan provided for the French association to withdraw completely after three years. The salary of the manager was taken care of until the end of 2006. To finance the salary and to be totally free from the French association, Macompo set up a coffee production and marketing cooperative. Radio Macompo is now part of a community radio network. Community radio plays a very important role in the education of women in a country where the fertility rate is very high, as well as in teenage pregnancies, and even very young girls who are just pubescent.

Of course, the risks are great and require caution. Some radios were closed at the time of the coup and during the long years of dictatorship (1972-1983). The women of Radio Macompo know how to be cautious and the radio has never, until now, stopped broadcasting for fourteen years. But Radio Macompo must also resist the pressure of the evangelicals and the Catholic Church who are trying to have slots to proselytize. Religious programs exist nevertheless at the request of the inhabitants, without privileging a religion in particular.

Like many others in Honduras, Macompo's women work quietly, but silence is perhaps their first and only protection. Beyond the resistance, Honduran women undermine the foundations of a patriarchal, macho and violent society. It will no doubt be necessary, when political conditions permit, for their actions to become visible, to be recognized, and to be part of a political project of social development.

Christine Gillard (AL friend)

Listen to Radio Macompo on Linkedin.com

[1] Report on violence against women in Honduras, July 26, 2007, to be found on Un.org.

[2] " Honduras a Calvary for Women ", Le Monde, November 23, 2014.

http://www.alternativelibertaire.org/?Honduras-Radio-Macompo-une-experience-communautaire-et-feministe
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