(eng)El Salvador Community Radios Silienced

The Anarchives (tao@presence.lglobal.com)
Wed, 17 Jan 1996 16:27:16 +0000 (GMT)


Date: Sun, 14 Jan 1996 19:36:28 -0800 (PST)
From: Stephen Dunifer <frbspd@crl.com>

URGENT FUNDING & SUPPORT NEEDED TO RESTORE
COMMUNITY RADIO IN EL SALVADOR

10 Community Radio Stations were silenced by the Salvadoran
Government who seized their equipment on December 3, 1995. Free Radio
Berkeley has been requested to supply ten 70 watt replacement
transmitters. In order to do this at least $4000 must be raised as soon
as possible to cover cost of materials. This is an urgent appeal for help
from Free Radio Berkeley. If you can donate money or help raise funds
please call (510) 644-3779 or respond to the email address:
frbspd@crl.com. An earlier press release is attached for reference.

Thanks,

Stephen Dunifer
Free Radio Berkeley

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EL SALVADOR: TEN COMMUNITY RADIO STATIONS CLOSED

SAN SALVADOR, DECEMBER 1995 -- In a simultaneous operation in
communities throughout the country, the Salvadoran National Civil
Police (PNC) closed and confiscated the equipment of ten community
radio stations on Monday December 4. All of the stations are
members of the Association of Participatory Radio Stations and
Programs of El Salvador (ARPAS), and the World Association of
Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC).

According to members of the PNC, the operation was carried out at
the request of Juan Jose Domenech, President of ANTEL, the state
agency charged with regulating broadcasting and telecommunications.
Sources within the PNC said that Domenech had ordered the closure
of "all the community radio stations".

The radio stations affected by the police operation are: Segundo
Montes (Meanguera, Department of Morazan), Izcanal (Nueva Grenada,
Usulatan), Ulua (Cacaopera, Morazan) Cooperativa (Santa Elena,
Usulatan), Victoria (Villa Victoria, Caban~as), Suchitlan
(Suchitoto, Cuscatlan), Excel (Zaragoza, La Libertad), Teo-Radio
(Teotepeque, La Libertad), and Nejapa (Nejapa, San Salvador). In
Guarjila, department of Chalatenango, residents occupied Radio
Sumpul, protecting it from the police action and preventing its
closure.

Most of the stations operated with very low-power and were heard
only in the immediate vicinity of the municipality in which they
were located. The three most powerful stations broadcast with 100
watts and were heard in most of the department in which they were
located. There is no indication that any of them interfered with
the signals of other existing radio stations.

The stations are owned by their municipalities, by associations of
residents or agricultural workers, or by non-governmental
organisations concerned with improving social conditions. All of
them are participatory and educational in nature and strive to
serve the poorer sectors of the population. In more isolated zones,
these radio stations also serve as the "community telephone
system", broadcasting messages, both emergency and personal, to and
from listeners. They are the most important source of local and
regional news and provide an electronic public bulletin board,
announcing community events and activities. All of these radio
stations offer a space in which all members of the community can
exercise their right to inform, to express their opinions, and to
be heard.

All of the stations have a history of cooperation with the
authorities, broadcasting messages on behalf of municipal
governments, the National Civil Police, the Ministry of Health, the
Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Education and even ANTEL,
the agency that has ordered their closure.

While none of the stations have received broadcast licenses from
ANTEL, some of them have been operating since 1990 and almost all
of them have been on the air for at least 2 years. During this
period, it has been shown that the stations do not interfere with
existing stations and numerous appeals have been made to ANTEL, the
Legislative Assembly and other authorities (see AMARC's RadioAction
Alert of August 19, 1993). In a statement issued December 5, ARPAS
noted that "the radio stations have done everything possible to
assure their legality and continue to do so... But in this country,
admired around the world for its ability to negotiate, it has not
been possible to move foreword in the discussions with ANTEL."

According to ARPAS the principal problem is the "tremendous
confusion" in El Salvador's broadcast legislation. "If Salvadoran
laws restrict the use of radio to the state and commercial spheres,
if public service and social and cultural development are not part
of the broadcasting norm, if the laws do not support the rights of
citizens and civil society to have access to the means of
communication, then it is urgent that those laws be revised."

ARPAS and AMARC's Solidarity Network are requesting that messages
of protest be sent to El Salvador's president, Armando Calderon.
Your message should request:
* That the confiscated equipment be returned and that the
eleven radio stations be permitted to broadcast once again;
* That the president request that ANTEL accelerate the process
of granting broadcast licences to El Salvador's community
radio stations.
* That the Salvadoran broadcast legislation be reviewed to
ensure that it is in accordance with El Salvador's situation
as a new democracy.

Sr. Armando Calderon Sol
Presidente de la Republica
Casa Presidencial
San Salvador, El Salvador
Fax: +503-281-0018 or +503-281-0017

Messages of support and copies of your message to the president can
be sent to ARPAS:
Cond. Flor Blanca A-318
43 Av. Sur y 6 calle PTE
San Salvador, El Salvador
Tel & Fax: +503-222-4467
Email: arpas@arpas.org.sv

Please send copies of your messages to AMARC's Solidarity Network
at the address below.

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The Solidarity Action Network is an initiative of AMARC,
the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters

For more information about AMARC or the Action Network,
contact us at:

3575 St-Laurent, # 704 - Montreal, Quebec - H2X 2T7 Canada
Fax: +(514) 849-7129 - Tel: +(514) 982-0351
Email: amarc@web.apc.org
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This message is also available in French and Spanish.
Email us for a copy.