Project enhances broadcasting capacity of Indigenous community radio in Honduras, Guatemala

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Seventy-one Indigenous communicators from 17 community radio stations in Honduras and Guatemala have received extensive training on how to develop new content about issues affecting remote communities as part of a project supported by WACC and Cultural Survival, a US-based NGO. 

The project also provided specialized training to 32 participants (15 women, 17 men) who became members of a network of community reporters.  

Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indigenas de Honduras (COPINH), a Honduran civil society organization, implemented the project, Building the Capacity of the Mesoamerican Network of Community, Indigenous, Garifuna, and Feminist Radio Stations. 

Despite challenges posed by the pandemic, participants remained enthusiastic and were able to produce high-quality content on issues such as disaster management, legal cases, and more, said COPINH in its project report. 

“Broadcasting capacity was enhanced and an online streaming channel was created,” said COPINH.   

Radio stations are now able to easily collect and exchange information through the network of community reporters, and as a result, their stories are better and include more local input, said the report. Local content increased in both Guatemala and Honduras, said the report, citing their coverage of hurricanes Eta and Iota, which devastated Central America, and COPINH’s coverage of the David Castillo trial Castillo, the person in charge of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project, was found guilty in July 2021 of being a co-author in the 2016 murder of Honduran environmental activist and Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres. 

An Internet radio station, Red Meso, was also launched, which broadcasts live programs from five community radio station network members, as well as four programs from allied organizations and radio stations.  

A new media center and a radio production booth was built in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, and equipment for radio production and internet transmission was installed. A computer was delivered to La Voz Popular radio in the Triunfo de Champerico community; Nuevo Sol Rebelde radion station in Santa Elena  (Petén), received a speaker and a hard drive, while othe stations received audio cables and other supplies.  

Two in—person and five virtual national and regional gatherings of citizen reporters and movement leaders were also held to assess the impact of their work and to develop new joint strategies to respond to current and future challenges. 

“The need for a stronger network has become more evident in recent years, as social movements in the region – which rely on community media to organize for change – have found themselves under closer scrutiny by state authorities and criminal groups,” said Lorenzo Vargas, WACC programme manager for Communication for Social Change. “The complex human rights situation in Honduras in particular is a major challenge for the network as a whole. The constant threat posed by extractive industries, which is already having an impact on natural resources and communities’ social fabric, is one of the driving forces behind the current situation.” 

Vargas said it is envisioned that in the long term, “this project will enable social movements and community media outlets to work in unison in order to respond more effectively to the challenges facing their communities.” 

Project participants, half of whom were women, represented the Indigenous peoples  (Q’eqchi’es, Quichés, Ixils, Mames and Poqomchíes in Guatemala and Garífunas and Lencas in Honduras).

Above: COPINH’s increased capacity enabled it to cover Indigenous events including this solidarity gathering by  members of the Rio Blanco community in  remembrance of  the legacy of Berta Cáceres, Honduran environmental activist and Indigenous leader. She  was shot dead by hired hitmen on March 2, 2016 after years of threats linked to her defence of Indigenous territories, including the 22-megawatt Agua Zarca dam. COPINH was among those who sought justice for Caceres. Photo courtesy of COPINH