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Guatemalan Independent Media Takes to the Streets in Massive Protests

Hundreds of people in came in buses from the interior of Guatemala to unite in front of the congress, putting pressure on the government to democratize the media and to recognize the community radio stations, illegal under the
current telecommunications law.
To all of our friends in solidarity with the struggle, those of us here at Mujb'ab'l Yol send our most sincere greetings.

-Update on the presentation of the proposed law on Community Media and Mass Communication, November 22, 2000

Hundreds of people in came in buses from the interior of Guatemala to unite in front of the congress, putting pressure on the government to democratize the media and to recognize the community radio stations, illegal under the
current telecommunications law. They came in support of independant media and radio, to witness the presentation of a proposed law, a document worked out at the grassroots level. This mass mobilization began three days earlier, almost spontaneously, demonstrating the popular support of these radios.

At 10:30 AM the president of the congress, Rios Montt, as well as congressmen Gregorio Chay and Romulo Caal, came out to recieve the proposed Law on Community Media and Mass Communication. Rios Montt responded stating the importance of community radio, to strengthen local identity and recognize the cultural values of the community. The proposal was also presented to a representative of the Comission for Accompaniment charged with the responsibility of follow the process of the implementation of the Peace Accords. Also present was a representative of MINUGUA, the Guatemalan Verification Commission of the United Nations, which has supported the community radios since the beginning.

The legal basis for this law comes from the Peace Accord on the Rights and Identity of Indigenous Peoples, Article 35 of the Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Conventin 169 of the Internation Labor Organization and the InterAmerican Commission for Human Rights recent resolution on the Freedom of Expression.

This proposed law would reserve certain radio frequencies on national, regional and local levels for the use of Associations and Community Councils, at the service of the community, with the active participation of community members and civil society to strengthen local identity, democracy and a culture of peace. The proposal was worked out in consensus by organizations representing the community radios in Guatemala; the Coalition of Popular Broadcasters of the South West of Guatemala (CEPSOG), the
Association of Community Broadcasters of Guatemala, the Association Mujb'ab'l Yol - United Expressions, the Association of Community Broadcasters of Sololá (AMECOS), the Association of Community Radios of Guatemala (ARCG), the Federation of Guatemalan Radio Schools (FEGR) and the
Department of Communications of COPMAGUA.

We at the Association Mujb'ab'l Yol - Expressions United are committed to seeing this process through, and will continue to push for the passage of this law in the congress. We continue this struggle despite the difficulties and limitations, for the benefit of all of the peoples of Guatemala.
 
 

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