01 Sep 2023 Community radio network to strengthen Indigenous communication rights in Argentina
A WACC-supported initiative in Argentina is set to make radio a more powerful tool for Indigenous communities to uphold their rights and cultures.
Local WACC partner Centro de Educación, Comunicación y Biblioteca Popular (CECOP), with the Argentine Forum of Community Radios (FARCO), is creating an Indigenous communicators network that aims to revitalize Indigenous languages and strengthen advocacy for Indigenous land rights.
The struggle for Indigenous rights
There are 39 Indigenous groups in Argentina. Constitutional reforms in 1994 recognized Indigenous peoples as pre-existing the nation state and incorporated Indigenous rights outlined in international law.
However, Indigenous peoples face ongoing struggles to have these rights respected and to make their voices heard.
As highlighted by the International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022–2032, some Indigenous languages are in danger of disappearing and with them, Indigenous communities’ right to communicate in their mother tongues and maintain their cultural identities.
For Indigenous peoples in Argentina, gaining access to ancestral lands is a slow process despite laws enacted to protect this right. Indigenous communities are often violently displaced from and dispossessed of their lands through real estate development, agribusiness, or extraction activities such as large-scale mining.
Indigenous radio as communication rights tool
Radio plays a crucial role in Indigenous communities’ being able to promote, exercise, and protect their rights. But many Indigenous broadcasters in Argentina lack the necessary training to develop sustainable strategies and produce programming in their own languages.
The project, with funding from WACC and Cultural Survival, will network existing radio stations in three regions to encourage the production and sharing of content and promote the creation of new broadcasters.
Fifty Indigenous communicators will participate in regional and national network training meetings and pass on their learnings to other Indigenous communicators, benefiting up to 180 Indigenous radio stations across Argentina.
“The project allows us to share knowledge and project the future as a network,” says Bernardo Saravia, a communicator from the Qom community and a member of the project’s training team for central Argentina.
“At the end of the project, the expectation is that Indigenous broadcasters in Argentina will be better organized and better positioned to advocate for human rights — including the right to communicate, the right to land, and the right to keep their Indigenous languages alive,” says Lorenzo Vargas, WACC’s Communication for Social Change program manager.
Ofelia Morales and Bernardo Saravia, members of the training group for the project’s central region, during an episode of “The Sign of the Dove,” a weekly radio program known as the voice of the Qom Indigenous community.
Photo: Aire Libre Radio
WACC and the US-based Indigenous rights organization Cultural Survival have partnered for nearly eight years to promote the vital role of community radio to defend communication rights and work towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals at a community level. The FARCO network project is part of WACC’s Communication for All Program (CAP) funded by Bread for the World-Germany.