Sunday, January 31, 2010

SAKS Radio Director Issues Collective's Statement

link to full statement:


Thanks to Greg Chamberlain for forwarding this Public Declaration by progressive civil society organizations in Haiti

It represents a strong current of thought among left-leaning Haitians who are both grieving and mobilizing, but are also deeply concerned on a political level, by the widely perceived failure to date of the Preval government to speak out to the Haitian people and the world -- to lead, as they see it; by the US military focus on 'security' vs. food aid in the immediate days after the earthquake -- and the continued US military control of logistics in the humanitarian response; and their concerns about global discussions related to 'rebuilding Haiti' that they feel reflect a neoliberal economic agenda of globalization and not a national agenda developed by Haitians for Haitians. - AC


The emergency aid effort we are involved in is alternative in character and we expect to advocate a method of work which will denounce the traditional practices in the field of humanitarian aid which do not respect the dignity of the victims and which contribute to the reinforcement of dependency. We are advocating a humanitarian effort that is appropriate to our reality, respectful of our culture and our
environment, and which does not undermine the forms of economic solidarity that have been put in place over the decades by the grassroots organizations with which we work....

...Massive humanitarian aid is indispensable today, given the scale of the disaster, but it should be deployed in terms of a different vision of the reconstruction process. It should connect with a break from the paradigms that dominate the traditional circuits of international aid. We would hope to see the emergence of international brigades working together with our organizations in the struggle to carry out agrarian reform and an integrated urban land reform programme, the struggle against illiteracy and for reforestation, and for the construction of new modern, decentralised and universal systems of education and public health.

We must also declare our anger and indignation at the exploitation of the situation in Haiti to justify a new invasion by 20,000 U.S. Marines. We condemn what threatens to become a new military occupation by U.S. troops, the third in our history. It is clearly part of a strategy to remilitarise the Caribbean Basin in the context of the imperialist response to the growing rebellion of the peoples of our
continent against neo-liberal globalization. And it exists also within a framework of pre-emptive warfare designed to confront the eventual social explosion of a people crushed by poverty and facing despair. We condemn the model imposed by the U.S. government and the military response to a tragic humanitarian crisis. The occupation of the Toussaint Louverture international airport and other elements of the national infrastructure has deprived the Haitian people of part of the contribution made by Caricom, by Venezuela, and by some European countries. We condemn this conduct, and refuse absolutely to allow our country to become another military base.

As leaders of the organizations and platform who have set this process in motion, we are writing to share our initial analysis of the situation. We are certain, and you have already shown this to be true, that you will continue to support our work and our struggles in the framework of the construction of an alternative from which our country can rise again from this terrible catastrophe and struggle to break free of the cycle of dependency.

For the Coordinating Committee:
Sony Estéus Director of SAKS

Friday, January 29, 2010

Community radio stations obliterated, off the air in Haiti

See below for AMARC Correction to this CPJ Story!

Women sell fruit in Jacmel, where Radio Fondwa was completely destroyed along with much of the city’s downtown. 

By Jean Roland Chery/CPJ Haiti consultant
More than two weeks after earthquake that devastated Haiti, several community radio stations are still off the air. In the western and southeastern parts of the country, at least 16 stations are facing serious problems that have suspended their broadcasts, Sony Esteus, executive director of SAKS, a local organization of community radio stations, told CPJ. The earthquake obliterated SAKS’ office in the Bourdon neighborhood, east of Port-au-Prince.

Community radio stations play a leading role in local news coverage in Haiti’s most remote communities, filling the void left by private radio stations in the capital. Most of them operate with low power transmission equipment—between 10 and 500 watts. SAKS has a network of around 30 community radio stations throughout Haiti and has made bringing them back into operation its priority.

Esteus, also a 1992 CPJ International Press Freedom awardee and the Caribbean representative of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, said the premises of Radio Fondwa in the city of Jacmel and Radio SAKA in Gran Goave were completely destroyed by the earthquake. No casualties were reported, he said, adding that two Fondwa reporters who were in station’s studio when the earthquake hit escaped unharmed.

In Petit Goave, Radyo Kolf Pye, a community radio station in the town of Value suffered great losses; in Leogane, the facilities of Radio Zetwal Peyizan collapsed, Esteus said.

Esteus, an experienced radio reporter, worked for Radio Haiti Inter for almost a decade till the station was closed in 2003. During the military coup of September 1991, while he was working as a reporter for radio Tropic FM, he was imprisoned and beaten at the headquarters of the in Port-au-Prince police department, he told CPJ.

From the Committee to Protect Journalists

 If you have any information on journalists and media outlets in Haiti please go to Committee to Protect Journalists or notify via e-mail, or Twitter: @HelpJournalists. They are collecting funds that will go directly to Haitian journalists.
From Elizabeth Robinson of AMARC: We've received some corrections to this account from Francesco Diasio, one of the AMARC team.  He writes that Radio SAKA was not destroyed (damaged) and is broadcasting from outside.  I'm posting the latest report from Marcelo Solervicens in Montreal:

Community broadcasters mobilise in support of Haiti

Community radio broadcasters are mobilising worldwide in response to the earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January. In an unprecedented global response in solidarity with the Haitian people, community radio broadcasters have organised appeals for emergency and humanitarian relief and have offered equipment and technical expertise to support Haiti's community radio stations.

An AMARC volunteer team arrived in Port-au-Prince on Sunday carrying equipment for SAKS (Society for the Animation of Social Communication), a community media production and support centre in Port-au-Prince, whose offices were destroyed when the earthquake struck. Sony Esteus, Director of SAKS and AMARC Vice President, will accompany the international team as they travel to Leogane, Grand Goave, Jacmel and other locations that are among the worst hit areas outside of the Haitian capital.

Radio Saka, the local community radio of Grand Goave, was reported back on the air, but at reduced power, and helping to mobilise local relief efforts. AMARC estimates around 12 community radios are in areas directly affected by the earthquake. The AMARC-SAKS mission will assess the impact of the earthquake on the community radio sector, provide
basic repairs and support to community media workers, and assist community radio to contribute to the humanitarian relief operation.

In the capital, most neighbourhoods have been heavily impacted. Many hundred thousand people have been left homeless and there are thousands of temporary camps. Everything happens in the streets. "The streets are the 'salon' of the people" says an old Haitian proverb. This has become a reality, even for those whose homes have not been damaged or destroyed, with people preferring to sleep in the open rather than risk staying in a building that might collapse with the next aftershock. Even the radio stations are broadcasting on the streets, with journalists afraid to work in their studios

Major international media support organisations are on the ground working to help restore Haiti's damaged communications infratructure: AMARC, International Media Support, Internews, Reporters Without Borders, are among the organisations collaborating in Haiti to avoid duplication and to assure an effective response to the disaster and the challenges of providing immediate relief.

AMARC has called on community radio broadcasters worldwide to support the Haiti relief effort, not only by broadcasting humanitarian appeals, but also be providing equipment, technical support and other resources to enable community radio in Haiti to play a central role in assuring access to information and enabling the populations affected to communicate their needs and concerns.

For news updates, further information and offers of equipment, technical and other support to assist community radio in Haiti, please visit:

Through service to members, networking and project implementation, the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters AMARC, brings together a network of more than 4,000 community radios, Federations and community media stakeholders in more than 115 countries. The main global impact of AMARC since its creation in 1983 has been to accompany and support the establishment of a world wide community radio sector that has democratized the media sector. AMARC advocates for the right to communicate at the international, national, local and neighbourhood levels and defends and promotes the interests of the community radio movement through solidarity, networking and Cooperation.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Radio stations getting back on the air in Port-au-Prince

Gaby Saget with her award from Reporters Without Borders
RSF/IFEX) - "Work is slowly resuming at Radio Métropole," one of its young reporters, Gaby Saget, told RSF. "Most of the staff were not hurt in the earthquake but they have been affected like the rest of the population," said Saget, winner of the 2009 RFI-OIF-Reporters Without Borders Francophone prize. "Our director, Richard Widmaier, got us to go back to work on Monday (18 January 2010) despite the lack of human and financial resources."

One of the leading Port-au-Prince radio stations, Radio Métropole initially resumed broadcasting only online, as did Radio Kiskeya, another of the most popular radio networks in the capital, which had around 50 stations before the earthquake.

Signal FM, Caraïbes FM and the local branch of the French public station RFI were the only three stations that managed to keep going immediately after the earthquake. But thanks to the help of foreign technicians and news media, including Radio France, a total of 20 stations are now operating, a week after the 12 January quake. They include Vision 2000, Radio Lumière, Radio Solidarité, Mélodie FM, Radio One and Radio Boukman, which is based in Cité-Soleil, the capital's biggest slum. The UN mission's station, Radio Minustah, was back on the air on 18 January.

The same is unfortunately not the case with Radio TV Ginen, Radio Soleil, Radio Ibo and Tropic FM, and many other small community radio stations, all totally destroyed. Radio Nationale, the state radio station, is broadcasting via its sister TV station.

The Agence France-Presse office was destroyed but the agency has resumed operating from new rented premises. The premises of the capital's two leading newspapers, "Le Nouvelliste" and "Le Matin", were spared by the quake. But for the time being they are unable to print and the staff are not working. "Le Nouvelliste" has nonetheless been posting some reports on its website.

RSF has been told that the premises of the 12 radio stations based in the southwestern town of Petit-Goâve were not destroyed, but equipment was badly damaged. Some are broadcasting. In Léogâne, a town nearer to the capital, five of the nine stations are able to broadcast although 85 per cent of the buildings were destroyed or badly damaged.

For more information:
CS 90247 - 75083 Paris Cedex 02 

Voices of Port Au Prince

by Ansel Herz, Inter Press Service via Reclaim the Media Mon, 2010-01-25 14:32
Throughout the earthquake's aftermath, the voices of many Port-Au-Prince radio stations have been loud and clear.

Radio Solidarite 88.5 FM is one of the outlets to survive the tremors. It resumed broadcasts from its small studio, at the top of a two-storey building in the city's centre, once the staff found some gas for their generator just two days after the quake. "We have tried to say to the population to be strong, we appreciate their courage," said Radio Solidarite Director Georges Venel Remarais. "The international press was talking about violence but we didn't see any. The help is very slow at times, and people get angry. Our work is to say, let's be calm."

Gas to generate electricity is still difficult to find, but the Radio Solidarite staff are able to use their undamaged studio. Radio Metropole, one of Haiti's biggest stations, also began broadcasting as soon as the staff found gas. Other than hundreds of records scattered on the floor of its music room, the facility was not affected. Still, the staff don't feel safe broadcasting from inside their one-storey compound. "We put our studio outside," said Jerome Richard, a veteran reporter for the station, "and we let it be free to the population that can come and say anything they want to say and information about their lives they want to provide us. And to let them tell the whole world what's happening in Haiti."

The large staff of Radio Teleginen lost their three-storey building to the earthquake. The roof collapsed and one of its walls crumbled, leaving a gaping hole. Volunteers and journalists acting as rescue workers were unable to retrieve the body of a young cameraman – the station's only casualty. "We're helping radio Teleginen because we love Radio Teleginen, we love all its programming and it also serves us," said Edner Jean as he emerged from the building wearing a hard-hat. "We're doing our best to pull the person out. We're on our own. Since the disaster happened, nobody's come to help us."

A crane belonging to a Haitian construction company sits yards away from the rubble, across from people camped out in hundreds of tents. Jean Borge, the station's owner, says no one there knows how to operate it. But he's confident that they'll begin broadcasting within days. "We got a new generator, we're getting our satellite fixed and will be up and running as soon as possible," he said. "Our reporters already have started working, we'll have a small studio here."

In the heart of Cite Soleil, Radio Boukman is on the air. The station is named after the Voodoo priest who helped ignite Haiti's slave revolt. The remains of a police station are piled next to their building, but the station itself only lost some equipment that fell off the shelves. Authorities say they are concerned with security for aid distributions inside the oceanside shantytown. Edwin Adrien, a producer for the station, said nobody from the U.N. or United States contacted them to coordinate aid.

"I don't know until now why they don't contact any entity and especially Radio Boukman, broadcasting inside Cite Soleil," he said. "I don't know the reason but they didn't contact us yet. I think the information that we broadcasting are helping everybody including MINUSTAH and the population. We have to keep the population informed." A Canadian Union solidarity group holds a press conference at Radio Boukman.

Signal FM is reportedly the only Port-Au-Prince station to remain on the air throughout the earthquake itself. Mario Viau, the station's director, told the Committee to Protect Journalists that the station's 12 staff journalists worked extended shifts to continue broadcasting. Underlining the importance of Haitian radio, the BBC announced Saturday it is making its broadcasts available for free, in Haiti's native Creole, for Haitian radio stations.

Port-Au-Prince suffered a 4.7 magnitude aftershock Sunday evening, but parts of the city are gaining some semblance of normality. The sound of creole songs, hip hop, and the latest news helps to ease the tension in the city's air.

article originally published at Inter Press Service.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Request for Assistance for Mediact in Korea

Lee Myung-bak's New Right government in S. Korea is taking disturbing steps to limit freedom of expression, shut down independent media, and defund media, arts, and cultural organizations across the country. The latest blow is an attack on public media center MediAct, which has played a key part in the democratization of Korea's media system since the end of the dictatorship, trained thousands of people in media production, and developed many successful media policy proposals to open up Korea's mediascape to diverse voices.

Please take action now to express international support for MediAct.
MediAct in Korea has long worked as a vital role to support alternative and independent film and video production, a critical citizens’ media monitoring movement, and an independent, democratic trade union movement since the late 1980s wave of democracy movement in Korea.

However, in the past two years, the mediascape and culture sector in South Korea has undergone some drastic changes under the Lee Myung-bak regime/New Right that has taken power as of 2008.

Now MediAct is facing the crisis of a shut down with the massive and politically motivated budget cutting by Korean government. Thus, we need international voices to condemn the Korean government's attack against the independent media environment in Korea.

1) Sign
Media and democracy in South Korea: Save Mediact

2) For updates: Join ACT NOW to save MediAct & Independent Media in Korea! facebook page:

3) Call KOFIC's Chairman Cho, Hee Moon 82-2-958-7521
or email:

More info:
Mediact website:
English Intro:
Related Interviews:

Ondas de Esperanza

Ondas de esperanza: la radio sobrevive y mantiene en pie a Haití
Martes 26 Enero 2010 - 10:55

Pequeñas estaciones que resistieron al terremoto o se reinstalaron a la intemperie han sido los pilares de información, ayuda y un poco de alegría para la población devastada por el sismo. Desde el terremoto del 12 de este mes que destruyó la capital de Haití y sus alrededores, las radios que quedaron en pie llevan noticias y esperanza contra todas las adversidades.

Radio Solidarité 88.5 FM es una de las estaciones que sobrevivieron a la catástrofe. Dos días después del sismo, reanudó sus emisiones desde su pequeño estudio, en lo alto de un edificio de dos pisos en el centro de la ciudad, una vez que sus empleados consiguieron gas para hacer funcionar el generador.

"Hemos tratado de decirle a la población que sea fuerte, que apreciamos su valentía", declaró el director de la radio, Georges Venel Remarais. "La prensa internacional habla de violencia, pero nosotros no la hemos visto. La ayuda es lenta a veces y la gente se enoja. Nuestro trabajo es tratar de mantener la calma", dijo el comunicador. Todavía es difícil encontrar gas para generar electricidad, pero el personal de Radio Solidarité logra hacer funcionar su estudio, que no sufrió daños.

Radio Metropole, una de las mayores emisoras de Haití, también comenzó a transmitir en cuanto el personal consiguió gas.

Aparte de los cientos de discos que quedaron tirados en el suelo de su sala de música, el resto del estudio no resultó afectado, pero igualmente el personal no se siente seguro.

"Decidimos llevar el estudio afuera", explicó Jerome Richard, un veterano periodista de la estación, "y permitir que la población venga libremente a decirnos o informarnos lo que quiera, y que le cuente a todo el mundo lo que está ocurriendo en Haití".

El terremoto destruyó el edificio de tres pisos de Radio Teleginen. El techo y una de las paredes se vinieron abajo. Los voluntarios y periodistas que actúan como rescatistas no han podido recuperar el cuerpo de un joven camarógrafo, la única víctima fatal de la radio.

"Ayudamos a Radio Teleginen porque nos encanta, nos gusta toda su programación y también nos sirve", manifestó Edner Jean mientras salía del ruinoso edificio con un casco.

"Hacemos todo lo posible para sacar a esa persona, pero estamos por nuestra cuenta. Nadie ha venido a ayudarnos desde que ocurrió el desastre", se quejó.

A algunos metros de los escombros, frente a un improvisado campamento, hay una grúa perteneciente a una empresa haitiana de construcción. Jean Borge, el propietario de Radio Telenigen, explicó que nadie sabe cómo manejarla, pero que igualmente confía en que su estación comenzará a transmitir de nuevo en los próximos días.

"Tenemos un nuevo generador, estamos arreglando nuestro satélite y quedará en funcionamiento lo antes posible. Nuestros periodistas ya han comenzado a trabajar, tenemos un pequeño estudio aquí", contó.

En el corazón del barrio marginal Cité Soleil, Radio Boukman está en el aire. La estación lleva el nombre del sacerdote vudú que promovió la revuelta de los esclavos de Haití en el siglo XVIII.

Los restos de una estación de policía están apilados al lado del edificio de la emisora, que sólo perdió algunos equipos que se cayeron de los estantes.

“Las autoridades están preocupadas por la seguridad en la distribución de la ayuda en el enorme asentamiento precario” dijo Edwin Adrien, un productor de la radio, quien agregó que nadie de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas ni de Estados Unidos se comunicó con ellos para coordinar la ayuda.

"No sé por qué no se han comunicado hasta ahora con ninguna entidad y especialmente con Radio Boukman, que transmite desde dentro de Cité Soleil. La información que transmitimos ayuda a todos, incluso a MINUSTAH (Misión de Estabilización de las Naciones Unidas en Haití) y a la población en general. Debemos mantener informada a la población", dijo Adrien.

Se dice que Signal FM fue la única estación de Puerto Príncipe que permaneció en el aire durante el terremoto. Mario Viau, su director, contó al Comité para la Protección de los Periodistas que los doce periodistas de esa radio trabajaron en turnos extendidos para no dejar de transmitir.

En reconocimiento de la importancia de la radio en Haití, la cadena británica British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) anunció el sábado que las estaciones haitianas podrían retransmitir sin costo sus emisiones en creole, el idioma más hablado en este país.

Puerto Príncipe sufrió una réplica de 4.7 grados Richter en la noche del domingo, doce días después del terremoto que destruyó la capital y sus alrededores, pero algunas partes de la ciudad están paulatinamente recuperando cierta apariencia de normalidad.

El sonido de las canciones en creole, el hip hop y las últimas noticias ayudan a aliviar la tensión que hay en el aire de la ciudad.
Tatiana Duplat
Directora de Proyectos
Caracola Consultores Ltda

CS 90247 - 75083 Paris Cedex 02 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Message about Community Radio in Haiti from AMARC

To all of you who have made offers of help through AMARC, the following is a report we prepared a couple of days ago. Our team is now in Port au Prince and should be reporting back preliminarily by the end of this week. Meanwhile, we are gathering information regarding resources that may be available for efforts in the next 2 months or so. If you have equipment and/or time & technical skills, please let AMARC in Montreal know. It would be helpful to know exactly what equipment or skills you have, whether you are free and willing to travel, whether you can support yourself or have support from a station or organization, and your location. Thanks again for your help and interest.

Elizabeth (Robinson)
AMARC/SAKS Urgence-Haiti Update #2, 21/01/10
For more information and to contact AMARC visit:

- SAKS office (PP) destroyed, staff alive and well, contact re-established by email and phone

- REFRAKA office (PP) destroyed, staff alive, one injured
- At least 12 community radio stations assessed to be strongly or severely affected
- First AMARC/SAKS Urgence-Haiti international mission to arrive Port-au-Prince 24/01/10
- Immediate priority to assess worst affected areas including Grand Goave, Petit Goave, Leogane
- Unprecedented response in offers of support from international community radio movement

SAKS (Sosyete Animasyon ak Kominakasyon Sosyal) - office (34 rue
Dalencourt, PP) was totally destroyed, re-established telephone contact on 18/01 with Sony Esteus, Executive Director SAKS and Vice President AMARC, all staff reported as alive and well, re-established email contact with Sony on 19/01. Communications remain difficult and intermittent. Seeking to establish temporary office.

REFRAKA (Haiti Community Radio Women's Network) - office (36 rue Dalencourt PP) was totally destroyed, one member of staff, Marie Guyrleine Justin, reported as injured.

Community radio stations - 12 stations identified as being in strongly or severely affected areas including 6 AMARC members - Radyo Saka (Grand Goave),
Radyo Zetwal Peyizan (Leogane),
Radyo Echo (Petit Goave), Radyo
Kominote Klofa Pye (Vallue, Petit Goave),
Radyo Flanbo (Cayes Jacmel),
Radyo Kominote Bel Ans (Belle-Anse) -
and 6 other community radio stations
identified - Radyo Boukman (Cite Soleil, PP),
Radyo Kenskoff Inter (Kenskoff),
Radyo Men Kontre (Petit Goave), Radyo Azuie Inter (Fond
Parisien), Radyo Fondwa (Fondwa) and
Radyo La Vallee Jacmel (La Vallee, Jacmel).

Radyo Fondwa report of building destroyed and two staff died.
Reports of Radyo Saka journalists involved in local relief organisation.
No other news from the above despite repeated attempts to contact by phone and email.
Of 40 other community radios in Haiti, a further 8 are nearby and may have experienced moderate effects and/or are in areas where significant numbers of people are seeking refugee. AMARC has prepared a list of 20 community radio stations to prioritise with immediate attention to worst affected areas outside PP.
See" for a map, impact assessment, and contact details for the radios.

International mission - Preparation underway in Santo Domingo. For the first mission we have a team of 5 people: Eduardo Garcia (UDECA/Radio Santa Maria/ALER) and Adoniz Mendez (Radio Santa Maria) are in Santo Domingo and assisting with logistics (transport etc). Francesco Diasio (Amisnet/AMARC-Europe) and Jane Regan will arrive in Santo Domingo on 23
January. Sony Esteus is in Port-au-Prince and arranging local logistics.
This is an assessment mission with some basic repairs capability and small items including one emergency replacement FM transmitter, repair kits, reporter kits, netbooks.

The mission is scheduled to travel into Haiti on 24 January and will aim to coordinate with other media support organisations in PP on 25 January, before commencing assessment visits outside PP. Objectives to assess the status of the community radios and their personnel, to assure (where possible) their integration into the humanitarian information network (including basic repairs and basic guidance on humanitarian relief reporting), to assist re-establishment of SAKS community radio support

Immediate priority is to travel outside Port-au-Prince to a cluster in some of the worst affected areas - around Leogane, Grand Goave and Petit Goave - where there are 5 community radios. After that, to visit other clusters of radios in areas badly affected - including La Vallee Jacmel, Cayes Jacmel, Fondwa, Belle Anse, Grand Saline, Kenscoff, Fonds Parisien and Verette - then return to Port-au-Prince.

The first assessment mission is to be completed by 2 Feb but Francesco will remain in the field to provide additional support to Sony/SAKS and to prepare the ground for further incoming support.

Unprecedented international media solidarity - initial mission is a multinational effort with mission team volunteers from US, Italy, Dominican Republic and Haiti, supported by AMARC offices in Montreal, Buenos Aires, Rome, Kathmandu and with partners and supporters including ALER (Latin America), Amisnet (Italy), FMYY (Japan), BHN (Japan), Austin Airwaves (US), Combine (Indonesia), UDECA (DR), Radio Santa Maria (DR), Radio Enriquillo (DR), Free Voice, Open Society Institute. Offers of
technical support and international volunteers have been received from all continents. BHN, a Japanese communications NGO with extensive emergency experience, are sending two technical experts to arrive Haiti 23 or 24 Jan, for initial assessment with potential follow-up to provide community mini FM radio station, distribution of radio receivers, simple community
address system with loudspeakers and microphone. Combine, Indonesian community media NGO with experience in Aceh and Yogjakarta, have offered technical expert with disaster relief communications experience and FM broadcast equipment. Austin Airwaves (Texas) have offered an international volunteer to bring and install a complete FM broadcast unit including antenna. Free Voice have offered to provide emergency replacement equipment and technical assistance. Free Voice and Open Society Institute providing joint financial support to initial emergency response.

For further information follow:
Contacts for first mission:
Francesco Diasio fdiasio (at) amisnet

Jane Regan jane (at)

AMARC International Secretariat (Montreal) Marcelo Solervicens, Secretary General secgen (at)

AMARC Latin America and Caribbean (Buenos Aires) Paula Castello, Projects Coordinator paulacastello (at)

Elizabeth Robinson KCSB 91.9 Associate Director for Media Associated Students University of California Santa Barbara
elizabeth.robinson (at) AMARC (World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters),

RSF CS 90247 - 75083 Paris Cedex 02 

Raising the antenna in a Kichua Village

Charangito, who posted this says: "We used a hardwood tree as an antenna mast - it will last as long as steel in this climate. It will hold 2 VHF and 2 HF antennas. I put down the camera to help about half way through the process..."

Experiments in Art Education in Luang-Prabang, Laos

The art school in Luang-Prabang, Laos has been holding media workshops. One was on graffiti.

Nathalie Magnan has been holding a video and photography workshop. Nathalie is a television producer and professor of video who lives in Paris. She is a former member of the "Paper Tiger TV" collective. Students have organized their photos into catagories:

In this photo "bank" one can click on each catagory:

These two images are in the catagory "a l'ecole" (At School):

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Suggestions for Haiti from a Radio Engineer

I think you really need to find something like this......

Radio Shack also makes them, these type of radios are in wide use in third world country's... A few religious broadcasters give a "Fixed Frequency" version away for free...Of course, the ONLY station you can get is their's.....

Someone needs to come up with $50-75k to build a portable studio-transmitter plant in a 40 foot semi-trailer that will fit in a C-130 cargo aircraft..... This has been done before, C/C radio has two of these....

Allen J. Sklar, Executive Vice President, Director of Engineering
- - - - -
Arizona Community Media Foundation
2510 South Rural Road
Tempe, AZ 85282

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Feminist International Solidarity Camp to Provide Communication for Women

Myriam Merlet, a victim of the Haitian Earthquake. The solidarity camp is named after Myriam Merlet, a feminist activist who was killed in the earthquake last week. As an outspoken activist, Merlet helped draw international attention to the use of rape as a political weapon.

Report by María Suárez, Radio Internacional Feminista/RIF-FIRE

A Feminist International Solidarity Camp to help mobilize and transfer resources, and to open channels of communications directly with Haitian women will open next week on the frontier Jemaní between the Dominican Republic & Haiti. As a project organized by women’s groups in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere in Latin America & the Caribbean and beyond, the Camp will be eventually handed over to Haitian women.

The international solidarity camp is named after Myriam Merlet, It is organized as a Resource Center for international solidarity efforts to send resources directly to the women of Haiti, and also work with Human Rights defenders from Haiti to monitor, denounce and demand legal action regarding violations of human rights including women’s human rights during the earthquake and the aftermath.

Also to be included is a Health Center to help deal the grief, injuries, illnesses and traumas of the earthquake.

Coordinators of these efforts include the Women & Health Collective (COMUS) a women’s human rights and health NGO, and CIPAF, a feminist NGO of the Dominican Republic that works in building social/political movement.

The space will also serve as a Communications Center to include radio transmissions via Internet by FIRE (Feminist International Radio Endeavour), as well as blogs, and electronic networks organized by women’s communication networks throughout the region. FIRE was the first international internet radio created and run by women from Latin America and the Caribbean.

Participation is needed, particularly to find resources, share information from the Camp and develop solidarity in your place. For more information in English about the Myriam Merlet Feminist International Solidarity Camp and other ways to participate go to: (webpage of FIRE radio) as of Febrary 1st.

Write in English to

Solar/Wind Up Radios to Haiti

Hundreds of thousands of Haitians are living outdoors and a reported "exodus without precedent"* is underway as people flee to the Dominican Republic or beyond. The U.S. Military currently is distributing 50,000 radios to get critical information to the displaced, but many more are needed. Freeplay Foundation Ambassador, Tom Hanks, is asking for help to get Freeplay solar-powered and wind-up radios to the Haitian people for the days and months ahead.

Understanding the Haitian people's critical need to access accurate information now and for months to come, Tom Hanks has provided the funding to launch our Haiti Humanitarian Radio Relief Fund. Survivors need to locate food, water, and medical stations. 500,000 homeless people need to know where to go as they flee Port-Au-Prince. In the months to come, radio will be essential during the re-building efforts. To donate:
And this from Jim Ellinger from AMARC via Austin, TX:
"... hopefully the 7-8000 solar/crank radios will be on the island soon, ready and waiting to listen to any number of re-newed AMARC affiliate stations! Let's call that some good radio news!"

NOTE OF CAUTION: One report has the Freeplay radios being distributed by CARE. The use CARE has been questioned, especially as it has been aligned with the corrupt US supported regimes as a "pay for work" in a manner similar to what the Marines required in their occupation from 1915 to 1934. Food and aid were (then and recently) rationed as to the level of cooperation with the maquila/exploitative infrastructure. See the film, Haiti: Bitter Cane.

Media Matters: Participatory Communication in India

Facilitating Dialogue:
media matters seeks to move away from monologue, away from the use of communication resources for delivery of “key messages”. To us, groups and communities are not mere audiences. They are not passive receivers who need to be “spoon-fed” or “hammered” with information.

We believe groups and communities have the capacity to bring about and manage change.

Communication resources therefore should support such a process through reflection, exchange of knowledge, beliefs and experiences, initiating a dialogue that could lead to action. We strive to design and develop media and communication resources that create space for voices that are unheard, in local language, sharing of concerns and aspirations, critical thinking and negotiation. We seek to explore and experiment so that groups and communities can not only review and adapt the existing resources to their own context but also gain the skills to create their own area-specific and need-based communication resources.

We have had the opportunity to design and develop a wide range of communication and facilitation resources to support group and community processes, events and campaigns on children and rights, gender and participation, reproductive health as a right, HIV/AIDS and youth, adolescents and life skills, solid waste management in urban areas, male participation in reproductive health.

(The above graphic is from an exhibition by media matters-- to facilitate discussions around life skills for/with
adolescent girls.)

Threats to Radio Victoria Continue

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

More on Community Radio in Haiti

By TAMARA LUSH, Associated Press Writer Wednesday, January 20, 2010
(01-20) 06:54 PST PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) --

The caller from Boston was desperate.

She had just received a text message Tuesday from a friend trapped in the rubble of a Port-au-Prince school and needed to get the news to rescuers, the Haitian government, the world.

She called the right place: Signal FM, the only radio station in the city that has broadcast nonstop during the earthquake. Its building, transmitting equipment and antennas escaped damage, and the station has been a key source of information since the magnitude-7 temblor wrecked Haiti a week ago.

Day and night, journalists and disc jockeys announce names of missing persons and news of open stores and dead celebrities, while calmly taking frantic calls and e-mails from both home and abroad.

Outside, people crowd the station's parking lot with crumpled handwritten notes, pleading for the announcers to read the names of their missing loved ones or a location where hungry people need relief.

"The radio station is the people's life right now," said 56-year-old Roselaure Revil, a Haitian who runs a small church aid program that is out of food, water and clothing. "Without the radio station, the country is dead. Without the radio station, we can't communicate. We don't have anything."

Even before the earthquake, radio was the nation's most popular form of media. About half of Haitians are said to be illiterate, so they can't read newspapers, and a lack of electricity in many households means television is not an option...

Short but Welcome Message from AMARC Vice President:
Sony Esteus has written that he is alive. He was out of touch for six long days. Not much is known about his condition, but this message was received!
"Thank u all. I'm alive."

and about aid to Haitian stations:
WMNF Community Radio to Hold Emergency Fundraiser for Haiti Relief Organizations
WMNF is trying to raise as much money as possible, and will split the funds evenly between four organizations: Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti, Doctors Without Borders, Partners in Health and Mercy Corps. WMNF will receive no proceeds as a result of the funds raised. 100% of the contributions will go to these relief groups.
WMNF News Director Rob Lorei says 88.5fm listeners are very generous and have helped out in other such efforts.
“WMNF listeners are very community-minded and they’ve been telling us about their deep concern for the people of Haiti. In the past, when we raised funds for the victims of Katrina, we raised a lot of money for relief. There’s no telling how this will turn out- given our economic problems here at home- but my guess is that they will come through in a big way,” said Lorei.
In 2005, WMNF held a fundraiser for Hurricane Katrina victims. >> As it is doing this time, the FCC lifted a ban on fundraising for other non-profit organizations so that public and community radio stations could hold special on-air pledge drives. <<
In one day, WMNF raised $132,000 that was split evenly among four non-profits. Our members thanked us time after time that day for putting their money toward trust-worthy non-profits to rebuild the areas and lives ravaged by Katrina.


From South Africa:
We are working flat out on a Haiti response right now, spearheaded by Michelle. At this point, our donor does not want any technical assistance, but knowing you're there could be very helpful to us. At this point I just don't know. We will be involved in both the emergency response as well as reconstruction efforts later. Michelle will contact you as soon as she can.

Kind regards and thank you very much for your email and offer of assistance. Radio will be extremely important in the coming months.
Kristine P__ | Chief Executive | Freeplay Foundation

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Video from the Ciné Institute of Jacmel

Jacmel, Haiti (CNN) -- Much was lost in the town of Jacmel, Haiti's cultural center.
The nation's only film school has lost two buildings.

From the Toronto Star:
..... it is a group of film students that deserves the credit for ensuring Jacmel was not overlooked in the global rescue and relief effort. The Ciné Institute, a school run by a former U.S. documentary filmmaker, was hard at work when the 7.0-magnitude quake struck. The students went to work instantly with their hand-held cameras and boom microphones to capture the devastation.

Some lost family in the disaster, others lost their homes, but few have stopped working out of a small compound near the Jacmel airport. They beamed their videos to CNN, which broadcast them to the world. When the Star and a television crew from Radio-Canada visited Tuesday, they filmed the journalists at work. "We're constantly working, day and night," said Jocelyn Fyrmin, 24, a school employee. "We want these images to be seen by as many people as possible. We want to get attention and help."

Report from student: Fritzner Simeus from Jacmel from Ciné Institute on Vimeo.

The Victims In Jacmel : Keziah Jean reports from the field (subtitled) from Ciné Institute on Vimeo.

A short news report made before the earthquake about the Cine School:

AFP Report: "Haiti: aspiring capital of Caribbean cinema" from Ciné Institute on Vimeo.

Supporters of Ciné Institute include: ArtAction, Crowing Rooster Arts, Cinereach, FOKAL,Fond.Voila, Inter-American Foundation, Jan Vrijman Fund, Hedge Against Poverty, Hubert Bals Fund, Paul Haggis, Francis Ford Coppola, the Spanish Embassy in Haiti

Force Marie Jacmel from Ciné Institute on Vimeo.

Ciné Institute Director David Belle reports from Port-au-Prince:
“I have been told that much US media coverage paints Haiti as a tinderbox ready to explode. I’m told that lead stories in major media are of looting, violence and chaos. There could be nothing further from the truth.

“I have traveled the entire city daily since my arrival. The extent of damages is absolutely staggering. At every step, at every bend is one horrific tragedy after another; homes, businesses, schools and churches leveled to nothing. Inside every mountain of rubble there are people, most dead at this point. The smell is overwhelming. On every street are people — survivors — who have lost everything they have: homes, parents, children, friends.

“NOT ONCE have we witnessed a single act of aggression or violence. To the contrary, we have witnessed neighbors helping neighbors and friends helping friends and strangers. We’ve seen neighbors digging in rubble with their bare hands to find survivors. We’ve seen traditional healers treating the injured; we’ve seen dignified ceremonies for mass burials and residents patiently waiting under boiling sun with nothing but their few remaining belongings. A crippled city of two million awaits help, medicine, food and water. Most haven’t received any.

“Haiti can be proud of its survivors. Their dignity and decency in the face of this tragedy is itself staggering.”
David Belle, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, January 17th, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

Brigade in February to Restore Garifuna Radio Attacked by Arson

Faluma Bimetu has been on the air for more than a decade, during which it has focused on strengthening Garifuna culture, as well as participating in the creation of programs concerning HIV/AIDS, and providing general information for and from the interests of the Garifuna communities. The network of Garifuna community radios fulfils a social function without any profit motive. Faluma Bimetu has been transmiting in a highly conflictive region controlled by powerful Honduran elites. The interests of the financial groups have been displacing the Garifuna communities to appropriate our beaches for their exclusive tourism projects.

Eyewitnesses to the attack report that the humble installations where the radio was housed has been virtually destroyed, and that much of their equipment has been lost. The incident is an enormous loss for the community of Triunfo and for the Garifuna people in general. Faluma Bimetu needs your support to return to the air and continue the important service it provides to the community. Support us and please pass this video on!
Radio Faluma Bimetu, OFRANEH, and COMPPA call for participation and support in the reconstruction and re-launching of Radio Faluma Bimetu in the Garífuna community Triunfo de la Cruz, in the Tela Bay, Honduras, during the first week of February.

What happened:
In the early morning hours of Wednesday, January 6th, the Garífuna community radio Faluma Bimetu (Sweet Coconut) based in Triunfo de la Cruz was burnt down by unknown armed individuals who proceeded to loot the station’s radio equipment. This is not the first time the radio has been attacked and its equipment stolen.

In 2002, unknown persons stole the Faluma Bimetu transmitter and other key radio equipment. The Garífuna people are in resistance to a slow process of forced assimilation into the dominant culture by proponents of the tourist industry and mass media; and subject to evictions by corrupt corporate monopolies.

Transmission of Radio Faluma Bimetu began in 1997, promoted by the Land Defense Committee of Triunfo de la Cruz (CODETT) in order to strengthen Garífuna culture and defend ancestral lands.

Triunfo de la Cruz, like other Tela Bay-Garífuna communities, has become a conflict zone since the invasion of venture capitalists, politicians, and foreign investors attempting to seize community land for the construction of mega–tourism projects. The Garífuna community radios provide a social service to the community and do not generate private profit. Transmitting from Triunfo de la Cruz, Faluma Bimetu is necessary in the fight against Honduran elite, and its attempts to displace Garífuna communities for more corporate development and tourism.

International Brigade
From the 1st through the 7th of February, there will be a national and international brigade for the reconstruction and re-launching of Radio Faluma Bimetu. During the week, the community, the organizations, the Network of Indigenous and Garífuna radios in Honduras and Central America and citizens of the world will gather to collectively reconstruct and reinstall the house, production and transmission cabins. We will reinstall electricity, paint the walls, remove and replace the roof, rebuild the tables, put a fence around the radio, and reinstall radio equipment (including mixers microphones, headphones, transmitters, computers, CD players, and internet, etc.)

During the same week, OFRANEH will organize accompaniment (day visits and overnight trips) with other radios of the Network of Garífuna Community Radios: Radio Durugubuti Beibei in San Juan Tela and Radio Sugua in Sambo Creek. Come with us and meet the people of OFRANEH, who use community radios and popular communications to fight against the censorship of Garífuna voices and culture.

Encuentro for the Right to Disseminate Our Voices:
On February 6th, exactly a month after Radio Faluma Bimetu was attacked, there will be an Encuentro for the right to communication and for the democratization of the media. It will take place in the same community of Triunfo de la Cruz. Participants include representatives of the Network of Indigenous and Garífuna Radios of Central America, AMARC Honduras, Central America and Latin America, ALBATV (Venezuela), Rights Action, COMPPA, OFRANEH and COPINH, among other regional, national and international organizations.

Inauguration of Faluma Bimetu:
Saturday, February 6th, Faluma Bimetu will be re–inaugurated. The inauguration will include cultural ceremonies, music, art, and declarations against the politics of marginalization and erasure.

Solidarity and Support:
We need $7,500 dollars to rebuild Faluma Bimetu and get it back on the air. Join our work party or support us with what you are able (5$ dollars and up). Raise your voice and help defend the communication
rights in this effort to rebuild Radio Faluma Bimetu.

Send your donations quickly and conveniently with PAYPAL or with a CREDIT CARD, send your paypal donation to encuentro at or make a donation via

You can make a tax deductible donation by sending a check to Rights Action. Make the check out to "Rights Action" and mail it to:
• UNITED STATES: Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887
• CANADA: 552 - 351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8

Please write "Ofraneh-Radio" in the memo line.
For more information on how to participate and support Faluma Bimetu, contact us:
encuentro at

For more information please consult the following links:
Antes y Después del Atentado Contra Faluma Bimetu
Before and After the Attack of Radio Faluma Bimetu
Collection of Denouncements, Audios, and Letters of Solidarity

Honduran Black Fraternal Organization, OFRANEH Telephone (504) 4420618, (504) 4500058
email: ofraneh at

Popular Communicators for Autonomy comppa at

A partial list of equipment stolen or damaged during the attack:
1 – 500 watt transmitter
1- 10 channel mixer
2- desktop computers
1- cellphone for the station
1- air conditioner
1- dvd and cd player
4- microphones (2 condensed mics and y 2 handheld mics)
2-digital voice recorders
2 – headphones
2- speakers
2 –portable microphones
1- building material ($500.00 corrugated metal roofing, paint, and lumber)
1- electrical wiring

As OFRANEH and COMPPA, our hearts and solidarity go out to the Haitian people. To support the many rescue and relief efforts in Haiti, visit the following pages and support their work:

Jornada de solidaridad y relanzamiento – reconstrucción de La “Primera Voz Garifuna” – Radio Faluma Bimetu

Encuentro por el Derecho a la Difusión de Nuestras Voces
Triunfo de la Cruz, Honduras 1 al 7 de Febrero

El llamado:
En un esfuerzo conjunto entre Faluma Bimetu, OFRANEH y COMPPA, hacemos un llamado para participar y apoyar a esta jornada de reconstrucción y relanzamiento de Radio Faluma Bimetu en la comunidad Garífuna Triunfo de la Cruz, en la Bahía de Tela Honduras, durante la primera semana de Febrero.

Lo sucedido:
El pasado miércoles 6 de enero, en horas de la madrugada, la radio comunitaria garífuna Faluma Bimetiu de Triunfo de la Cruz, fue incendiada por desconocidos armados, los que procedieron a saquear el equipo de la radio. Esta no es la primera vez que la radio ha sido objeto de la sustracción de su equipo de transmisión.

En el año 2002 desconocidos hurtaron el transmisor y otras herramientas claves de la radio. El pueblo garífuna se ha visto expuesto a un lento proceso de asimilación a la cultura dominante por intermedio de los medios de comunicación masivos, monopolios que se encuentran en manos de figuras bastante conocidas en el país como manipuladores de la información.

Desde el año de 1997 se inició las transmisión de la radio Faluma Bimetu, promovida por el Comité de Defensa de Tierra de Triunfo de la Cruz (CODETT), con el propósito de afianzar la cultura garífuna y defender el territorio ancestral de la comunidad.

Triunfo de la Cruz, al igual que las demás comunidades garífunas de la Bahía de Tela, se han convertido en zonas en conflicto ante la intervención realizada por empresarios, políticos e inversionistas extranjeros, que pretenden apoderarse de las tierras comunitarias para la construcción de proyectos turísticos.

Las radios comunitarias garífunas cumplen una función social sin ninguno espíritu de lucro, en especial la de Faluma Bimetu, la que venía transmitiendo desde una zona que la elite de poder hondureña la ha convertido en altamente conflictiva, dado el interés que tienen grupos financieros en desplazar a las comunidades garífunas para utilizar nuestras playas en sus proyectos turísticos.

Brigada Internacional:
Del 1ro al 7 de Febrero se organizará una brigada nacional e internacional para la reconstrucción y relanzamiento de Radio Faluma Bimetu. Durante esta semana, de manera colectiva, la comunidad, las organizaciones, la red de radios indígenas y garífunas de Honduras y Mesoamerica y ciudadanos del mundo se juntarán durante varios días para reconstruir y reinstalar la casa, cabinas de producción y transmisión de Radio Faluma Bimetu. Se volverá a instalar la luz eléctrica, pintar las paredes, quitar y reemplazar el techo, reconstruir las mesas, cercar la radio y finalmente instalar de nuevo el equipo de la radio (incluyendo las mezcladoras, micrófonos, audífonos, transmisores, computadoras, lectores de cd, y internet etc).

Simultáneamente, habrá acompañamiento en la Radio Durugubuti Beibei de San Juan Tela, y en Radio Sugua de Sambo Creek. Acompañanos y conozca a la gente de OFRANEH quienes luchan contra la censura de las voces y cultura garífuna con la radio y comunicación popular.

El Encuentro Para Los Derechos de la Difusión de Nuestras Voces:
El día sábado 6 de Febrero, a un mes exacto del atentado contra Radio Faluma Bimetu, habrá un Encuentro por el derecho a la comunicación y para la Democratización de los Medios. Se llevará a cabo en Triunfo de La Cruz mismo. Llegarán participantes de la red de radios indígenas y garífunas de Mesoamérica, de AMARC Honduras, Centro América y América Latina, de ALBATV, Derechos en Acción, COMPPA, OFRANEH, COPINH entre otras organizaciones nacionales, regionales e internacionales.

Inauguración de Faluma Bimetu:
El mismo Sábado 6 de Febrero, a apenas un mes de la destrucción de Faluma Bimetu, se inaugurará de nuevo esta radio tan importante para el pueblo garífuna. En la inauguración se realizarán ceremonias culturales, actos musicales y artísticos y pronunciamientos en contra de la política de marginación y olvido.

Como Solidarizarse y Apoyar:
Acompáñanos o Apoya desde donde estés. Envía sus donativos desde $5 dólares usd en adelante. Alza tu voz y ayuda a defender los derechos a la comunicación en este esfuerzo para reconstruir Radio Faluma Bimetu.

Envía sus donaciones rápido y fácilmente con donaciones electrónicas en línea con paypal: envía tu donación a

Alternativamente podrías enviar una donación directamente a la cuenta de OFRANEH en Honduras a través de la siguiente información: Cuenta No. 3100023062, Banco Atlantida, SWIFT ATTDHNTE, La Ceiba, Atlantida, Honduras C.A.

Finalmente podrás hacer un donativo tax deductible a través de Rights Action.

Para mas información sobre como participar y o ayudar contáctanos:

Para mas información consulta las siguientes ligas en línea:
Antes y Despues del Atentado Contra Faluma Bimetu
Before and After the Attack of Radio Faluma Bimetu

Compilación de Denuncias, Audio y Cartas de Solidaridad:

sufrió un atentado perpetrado por desconocidos, los que incendiaron el local donde se encontraba instalada la radio comunitaria garífuna.

Faluma Bimetu tiene más de una década de vida, en la cual se ha centrado en fortalecer la cultura garífuna, al mismo tiempo participando en la creación de un sistema de alerta temprana, programas referentes al VIH/SIDA, y proporcionar información en general mas allá de la distorsión habitual que suele ser promovida por los medios de comunicación masivos.

Las radios comunitarias garífunas cumplen un función social sin ninguno espíritu de lucro, en especial la de Faluma Bimetu,la que venía transmitiendo desde una zona que la elite de poder hondureña la ha convertido en altamente conflictiva, dado el interés que tienen grupos financieros en desplazar a las comunidades garífunas para utilizar nuestras playas en sus proyectos turísticos.

En los últimos años la Municipalidad de Tela ha dividido la comunidad por intermedio de un Patronato (figura esatatal de gobierno local) paralelo, afín a los intereses de los empresarios turísticos. La radio Faluma Bimetu ha sido una de las abanderadas en la defensa del territorio ancestral.

Testigos oculares del atentado ocurrido, señalan la destrucción del inmueble donde se encontraba la radio, además de la sustracción de equipo. El hecho acontecido es una enorme pérdida para la comunidad de Triunfo de la Cuz y el pueblo garífuna en general.

De acuerdo con las informaciones recibidas, durante la madrugada del 6 de enero de 2010, la radiodifusora Faluma Bimetu, ubicada en Triunfo de la Cruz, en la región del litoral atlántico, fue saqueada e incendiada por un grupo de hombres no identificados.

De acuerdo con las mismas informaciones, la emisora llevaba más de una década denunciando los intereses de grupos financieros que pretendían desplazar a las comunidades garífunas de sus territorios ancestrales con el objeto de desarrollar proyectos turísticos en las playas de la región. Además, la radio comunitaria era opositora al golpe de Estado del 28 de junio de 2009, motivo por el cual, según se informa, Faluma Bimetu se encontraba expuesta a represalias.

El Observatorio condena rotundamente el atentado contra la radio comunitaria Faluma Bimetu y teme que éste haya sido motivado en razón de sus actividades de defensa de los derechos del pueblo garífuna y su oposición al golpe de Estado en Honduras.

El Observatorio señala su profunda preocupación por la situación de hostigamiento en contra de las radios comunitarias defensoras de los derechos de los pueblos indígenas en Honduras, quienes desempeñan una función de soporte de comunicación importante en comunidades que a menudo se encuentran aisladas y marginadas. Igualmente, el Observatorio expresa su preocupación por las represalias en contra de los medios de comunicación independientes opositores al golpe de Estado, y manifiesta de manera general su seria inquietud por la situación de inseguridad de los defensores de derechos humanos en Honduras.

Acción solicitada:

Favor dirigirse a las autoridades de Honduras urgiéndolas a:

i. adoptar de manera inmediata las medidas más apropiadas para garantizar la seguridad de los medios de comunicación que defienden los derechos humanos en Honduras y de todos los defensores de derechos humanos en Honduras;

ii. llevar a cabo una investigación completa, independiente, exhaustiva e imparcial sobre los hechos denunciados, con el fin de identificar a los responsables, llevarlos ante un tribunal competente, independiente, justo e imparcial y aplicarles las sanciones penales, y/o administrativas previstas por la ley;

iii. velar por que se ponga fin a todo tipo de hostigamiento y de violencia en contra de los defensores de derechos humanos en Honduras;

iv. asegurar la aplicación de lo dispuesto por la Declaración sobre los Defensores de los Derechos Humanos, adoptada por la Asamblea general de la ONU el 9 de diciembre de 1998, en particular en lo referente a la protección del derecho de toda persona “individual o colectivo, promover la protección y el respeto de los derechos humanos, de las libertades fundamentales, tanto en el plano nacional como internacional y a esforzarse por ellos” (art.1), así como en lo relativo al deber del Estado de garantizar “la protección de toda persona, individual o colectivamente, frente a toda violencia o represalia, discriminación, negativa de hecho o de derecho, presión o cualquier otra acción arbitraria del ejercicio legítimo de los derechos mencionados en la presente Declaración” (art.12.2) y por la resolución sobre Defensores de Derechos Humanos en las Américas [AG/RES. 1671 (XXIX-O/99)], adoptada por la Organización de los Estados Americanos el 7 de junio de 1999;

v. de manera general, garantizar el respeto por los derechos humanos y las libertades fundamentales en todo el país de conformidad con las normas internacionales de derechos humanos ratificadas por Honduras.


· Sr. Roberto Micheletti, Casa Presidencial, Boulevard Juan Pablo Segundo, Palacio José Cecilio del Valle, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Fax: +504 235 7700 / +504 239-32-98

· Sr. Mario Perdomo, Secretaría de Seguridad, Edificio Pujol, 4to. Piso, Col. Palmira, Blvd. Morazán, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Fax: +504 220 4352 / 504 237 9070

· Sr. Luis Alberto Rubí, Ministerio Público, Tel/Fax: +504 221-56-70 / +504 221 5667

· Sr. Jorge Alberto Rivera Avilés, Corte Suprema de Justicia, Fax: +504 269-30-70

· Sr. Ramón Custodio López, Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, Dirección: Colonia Florencia Norte, Boulevard Suyapa, Tegucigalpa, Honduras C.A. Fax: +504 232-6894, Correo Electrónico: custodiolopez at

· Sr. Oscar Raúl Matute Cruz, Secretario en los Despachos de Gobernación y Justicia, Edificio La Hacienda , Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Fax: + 504232-02-26

· Misión Permanente de Honduras ante las Naciones Unidas en Ginebra, 13 chemin de Taverney, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, Suiza. Fax: +41 22 710 07 66. Email: / mhonduras.onug at

· Embajada de Honduras en Bruselas, 3 av. Des Gaulois, 1040 Etterbeek, Bélgica. Fax : + 32 2.735.26.26. Email: ambassade.honduras at

Favor escribir también a las Representaciones Diplomáticas de Honduras en sus respectivos países.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haitian Community Radio Earthquake Emergency

The radio station in Fondwa, Haiti.
News from Jim Ellinger:
Very worrisome news. Radio Fondwa was destroyed.
I have been talking with the family of two US volunteers, Jamalyn Williamson and Megan Rohmeyer, two of the group that left from Milroy United Methodist Church, Milroy, Indiana. They survived, but inform me of two locals' deaths in the building collapse.

The two American women working at community radio station Radio Fondwa are confirmed to be alive by family members.
"They just made it out as the entire building collapsed," said Jamalyn Williamson's aunt Karen Potts of Cincinnati. Two Haitians reported killed in the building collapse.

Community Radio in Haiti
There are about forty community radio stations nationwide in Haiti and six in the Western District, which is the epicenter of the quake. The World Association of Community Radio (AMARC) has heard that these six have been "severely damaged." The AMARC Vice President, Sony Esteus, is unaccounted for.

Sony Esteus is a Linguist, journalist, Charter member and present Director of the Haitian NGO SAKS (Sosyete Animasyon ak KOminikasyon Sosyal). SAKS works in the field of the popular education for the communication that thus helps to basic organizations in Haiti (farmers, young people and women) to establish community radios.

From 2005, Sony Esteus is the national representative of AMARC-ALC in Haiti and member of the AMARC Regional Council for Latin America and the Caribbean. Elected in the AMARC International Board on November 2006 in AMMAN (AMARC 9).

From AMARC ALC (Latin America and Caribbean):
We have tried to communicate by electronic mail and by telephone with Sony Esteus, representative of AMARC in Haiti, and we have not had luck. We continue insisting, although we know that the communications are first that fail in these cases.
We are waiting to receive some news of our companions and companions in Haiti.

From Stephen Dunnifer, Free Radio activist from Berkeley, CA:
I visited Haiti twice in the mid 90's to work with community radio folks and set up several station - met with Aristide for an about an hour to discuss the creation of a radio station at the orphanage. We sent them their first transmitter package shortly after that. One of the young men at the orphanage visited us several years later to learn more about the technical aspects. I called the concept of a distributed network of low power stations throughout the country "coup insurance". In the past, the army would roll in, seize the radio stations in Porte Au Prince and silence the opposition. A network of transportable stations would have made that a lot more difficult. Never could generate adequate support for this concept, however.
Maybe this would be a good time to get folks behind the deployment of several dozen 100-150 watt stations in Haiti at a cost of about $2000 each.

One may wonder where the Republicans got their experience in vilifying a popularly elected black leader of a country, look no further their orchestrated attacks on Aristide. The language used is almost identical. Both Obama and Aristide were community organizers. Not that I am a supporter of Obama, but the historical parallels are rather stunning.
Best regards, Stephen


And this just out from the FCC:
As more news emerged about the widespread devastation caused by an earthquake in Haiti, aide organizations flooded the Web with ways to donate online or via text message. Now, the FCC is getting on-board and will temporarily lift a ban on fundraising by non-commercial TV and radio stations so that they can accept funds to help the victims. ----Chloe Albanesius, PC Magazine

Jen Howard, 202-418-0506 Email:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti during this terrible tragedy. A number of noncommercial broadcasters have asked for permission to raise funds for relief efforts, which we are happy to give. The Media Bureau has posted procedures for any noncommercial TV or radio station to obtain expedited approval for such fundraising. These temporary
waivers will help tap the American spirit of generosity in this time of great need to aid Haitian relief efforts.”
For more information, visit:

Internews to Deploy Media Assistance in Support of Haiti’s Information Needs During Humanitarian Disaster
*Washington DC and Paris : *With communications crippled in Haiti after Tuesday's devastating earthquake, Internews is responding to the urgent need for information during this humanitarian disaster.

Haitians need information about the situation: how to find food, shelter and water, how to connect to loved ones who survived, and eventually, how to rebuild. A team from Internews that includes media specialists, radio technicians and humanitarian liaison experts are deploying to assess the extent of damage to Haiti's media infrastructure, which provides crucial information to vulnerable populations. In addition, the rapid response team is bringing broadcast equipment that can quickly be used to broadcast emergency information. Internews previously used this type of portable broadcasting equipment in Banda Aceh after the 2004 tsunami.

The team is conducting a rapid assessment of local and national media transmission capabilities, audience reach and infrastructure damage. It will make recommendations for assistance to facilitate the flow of vitally need information between the international relief operation and Haitians. Internews is able to deploy its team with generous support from the MacArthur Foundation and other donors.

Internews recently completed a project in Haiti working with 40 community radio stations throughout the country called RAMAK (Rasanbleman Medya pou Aksyon Kominoté). The project, which was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, focused on journalism trainings and technical skills for radio production personnel. The head of RAMAK, Jean Fedner Chéry, was in Washington, D.C. last year to accept the 2009 Internews Media Leadership Award for the radio network's track record of providing essential medical, educational and humanitarian relief information to its listeners.

For further information :
* Mark Harvey +
44 7703 180 524
* Caroline Giraud
+ 33 666 9439 54

Note of Caution: Internews is closely allied with the US State Department, having been a primary agent for privatizing stations in the former Soviet Union, and currently engaged with major initiatives in Afghanistan in collaboration with the US Military. Much of Internews' funding comes directly from agencies associated with the NSA. The sorry condition of the Haitian economy and misery of the population even prior to the quake has been attributed to the questionable role of US trade (and military) policies in the country.
US Government funders of Internews:
USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)
USAID Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI)
US Department of State (DOS)
US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL)
US Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM)
US Department of State, Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI)
US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)
World Bank

Haiti earthquake: Community radio stations help worried kin get news of loved ones
Read more:
Phone lines are down. Internet connections are spotty. Cell phone towers sit in piles of rubble. Faced with no way to reach loved ones on the island, desperate Haitian immigrants in New York have turned to community radio broadcasts for the latest news.

Several so-called "pirate" stations broadcasting on a special frequency have been running nonstop since Tuesday's 7.0-magnitude earthquake.

The stations, which broadcast on a frequency called SCA, can be heard only with special $50 radios that pick up the small frequencies. "My mother, I don't hear nothing at all. She is 78 years old," Harlem resident Shirley Diop told Radio Panou 101.9 in Flatbush, Brooklyn, yesterday.

"I am hoping someone can help me hear from her," said Diop, 40. "It is very sad. My only hope to hear from her is the radio." Diop was one of thousands who called the stations broadcasting out of Brooklyn and Long Island, where large numbers of Haitian immigrants live.

"They are relying on the radio to give them news about their families," said producer Ronald Baptiste, 34, of Radio Optimum 96.3 in East Flatbush. "The biggest challenge is they can't get through to loved ones." NRadio Panou stayed in contact with its sister station in Haiti to provide some of the most detailed coverage from the ground.

"Today we're giving news all day long," said Acelus Etienne, 52, owner of Radio Eclair 88.9 in West Hempstead, L.I. "People are calling from all over the tristate area, even from Miami," he said. "They ask, 'Will you please ask if anyone has spoken with someone I know in Haiti? Can they call me and tell me if they're okay?'"

Etienne didn't know the fate of his mother and father until a listener called to say he had heard from someone who saw them alive. "Lucky for me, somebody told me they saw my parents and they're okay, and that gives me some relief," he said.

A frantic dad from Queens called Radio Panou yesterday looking for news about his two teenagers in Haiti - neither of whom has been in touch since the quake. "I can't get in contact with my daughters," said Jonathan Phillips. "I try to connect by phone, but I can't get through. I am depressed. Can you help find them?"

Deejay Lynch Garbard fought back tears as he fielded calls from the studio in Flatbush."There are a lot of phone calls, and everybody is crying," he said. "They can't find their families." He, too, was searching for loved ones. "I got a call and heard I lost everything in Haiti," he said. "I am missing most of my family. I don't know if they died. I'm not dying, but I feel like I am."

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Information Highways are still Unpaved


by Lynda Attias and Johan Deflander
Since our radio has been connected to the Internet, our telephone bills are four times higher, but I've also seen that we communicate four times less with our community. - Zane Ibrahim, Bush Radio; Cape Town, South Africa

Africa's community radio stations play an active role in the process of local development. They inform the population, help people share experiences and knowledge, and facilitate exchanges. These stations are often integrated into the community and are accessible to members from all social strata, including the illiterate and speakers of non-written languages. Radio stations must cope with many difficulties, however, because they lack documentation and are usually located in isolated rural areas. The use of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) can potentially enable them to face some of the challenges. Given that radio is already well-established, plays an important role in the community, and encourages participation, we believe that, connecting it with the Internet, a highly interactive and information-rich medium, offers many prospects for local development.

Nevertheless, simply praising the virtues of a linkage between community radio and the Internet does not take us very far. There is a need to examine the perceptions, expectations, and needs of the community radio stations and the practical obstacles that this linkage entails. One of the major risks involved with introducing the Internet into community radio is that it may remain foreign to those it is intended for and therefore be useless. The process of applying the new medium is a delicate one, and this means that consideration must be given to whether or not radio broadcasters are able to use it in their daily work and whether they are prepared to invest in it.

In the early 1990s, pressure exerted on West African national authorities by many players in civil society, including non-governmental as well as governmental organizations, produced a liberalization of most countries' airwaves and, as a result, a new kind of media - associative community radio - appeared in several countries. New radio stations, owned and managed by their communities were then able to go on the air - usually in difficult financial situations, but with levels of development and conditions that vary significantly from one West African country to the next. They have been broadcasting in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Benin for the last ten years, whereas in Niger, Guinea-Bissau, and Senegal they have come into existence only in the last two years. Because these radios are young and lack professional training, they all face significant organizational problems. Senegal has a total of only eight stations, but Mali has 106 private radio stations of many different varieties.

The Panos Institute of West Africa (PIWA) has been involved throughout the process, supporting civil society efforts to change broadcast regimes, providing training and technical assistance to the radio stations and producing and distributing programmes.

As part of its work supporting the new radio stations, PIWA has undertaken a variety of initiatives to promote the understanding and use of the Internet by community radio stations. One of these is BDP on line, an Internet-based alternative to shipping CDs or cassettes by mail, a service that is both slow and expensive in West Africa. Using BDP on line, twelve participating radio stations in ten French-speaking African countries[44] are able to use the Internet to upload or download programmes free-of-charge. The service serves twelve radio stations[45] in ten French-speaking African countries.

Internet training for West African community radio broadcasters has been another of PIWA's activities. Since 1998 a number of courses on Internet for radio broadcasters have been offered. Among these was a series of courses conducted to support the launch of a network linking radio stations in certain regions of Mali[46] and another series that began in the summer of 2001 for seven Senegalese community radio stations.[47]

This chapter weaves together comments from participants at the Internet workshops in Mali and Senegal and the authors' observations of the workshops and other PIWA activities conducted since 1998. It presents a picture of community broadcasters' perceptions of the Internet, including its importance for development, its usefulness in their journalistic work, and problems associated with the introduction of the new medium. The chapter concludes that a new approach is needed if the Internet is to be of use to Africa's rural radio stations.

In Europe and North America computers have become an everyday household appliance, with most people having both access to them and knowledge of how to use them. However, African levels of computer use, especially in rural areas, bear no resemblance whatsoever to those of industrialized countries. During the Internet training workshops in Senegal and Mali, several broadcasters felt their hands shake as they grasped a mouse for the first time.

If you're not familiar with the machine, and you sit down with a computer expert, you think that you have a genius sitting next to you. I thought that I needed to have a superior intellect to be able to use it. (Radio La Côtière; Joal, Senegal)

Computers are considered to be complicated, inaccessible, and frightening tools associated with researchers and “superiour intellects”. The ability to use a computer is seen as a guarantee of learnedness. The technology, nevertheless, does not lack supporters.

With the evolution of new ICTs (new information and communications technology), it won't be long before you'll be considered illiterate or unschooled if you don't know how to use a computer. (Radio La Côtière; Joal, Senegal)

Rural and urban, men and women, young and old, all of the broadcasters said they urgently need to know how to use computers and the Internet for fear of becoming “the illiterate of the 21st century.” These words have a strong meaning in countries such as Senegal, Mali, and Burkina Faso, where more than 70 percent of the population is illiterate. That a failure to use new technologies could produce a new form of illiteracy represents a serious threat: the emergence of another cause for backwardness. It would seem that radio broadcasters now see the use of the Internet as a new development indicator.

We can't develop without this new Internet technology. We all have to understand that very clearly. We Africans are aware of it. (Radio Jiida FM; Bakel, Senegal)

New technologies are essential, and we have to go the way of the rest of the world.... We all talk about the global village, but we have to be part of that village. (Radio La Côtière; Joal, Senegal)

The Internet is a symbol of modernity. Not making use of it could mean not taking part in the global process, standing by as the gap between developed and developing nations widens, and being excluded from the highly touted global village.

The community broadcasters say that the Internet is useful primarily because of its informational potential. By being better informed themselves, they believe that they can more efficiently do their job of informing their communities.

What's most important about the Internet is that it enables us to broaden our knowledge and improve our programmes so that we can help our listeners. For example, there are many diseases that rural people don't know how to fight at the present time. The Internet can give us information on malaria, tell us what its effects are, which areas are the most affected, and how to prevent it. The Internet makes it possible for us to move toward information, to process it, and to provide people with it. (Radio Jiida FM; Bakel, Senegal)

Their Internet searches were directly related to local concerns such as agriculture, health, malaria, the rights of women and children, growing vegetables, fishing, and composting. They wanted to obtain clear, concrete, and precise information on certain issues from in the form of instructional and educational presentations so that they in turn could put together programmes on specific topics. However, they often found theoretical presentations or the kind of content that they felt could not be directly transferred into their radio programmes.

As for content, well, maybe you can find some things with advanced searches, but you don't usually come up with what you need. For example, while we were browsing with AltaVista I wanted something on turtles, but all I could find were pictures. In my opinion, that was just a waste of time and money. (Radio La Côtière; Joal, Senegal)

During the workshops the broadcasters usually included “in Senegal” or “in Africa” in their searches. For example, they typed “human rights in Senegal” or “agriculture in Africa.” They spontaneously wanted to assess how well their nation or culture was represented. The results were usually foreign content, even when the topics directly concerned them.

It hurts when you browse the Internet and the only information you can find on Africa comes from the USA or Europe. It simply means that Africa is very poor in terms of information. (Radio Jiida FM; Bakel, Senegal)

On the subject of Africa, from the time of my first search it seems that I've only seen reports. This tells me that foreign intellectuals are the ones who are reporting on us. What I would like to see is an African village presenting its own cultural life and history. I haven't seen any of that so far. I don't know if it exists or not, but, the way I see things, it should. (Radio La Côtière; Joal, Senegal)

West African radio broadcasters would like to feel that they can identify with the content of the Internet. However, the scarcity of sites allowing for them to do so makes them believe that Internet information on Africa is mainly a story about them, whereas what they want are not sites that talk about them but rather sites created by people like them.

Considering the disproportionate amount of Western information on the Internet, as compared to African information, the radio hosts wondered what kind of consequences the flood of Western content might have on Africa.

I think that the Internet is a melting pot where people can do and show whatever they want. In my opinion, here in Africa we have to protect our culture. Too much information from foreign sources could put our culture in jeopardy and change the thinking of young people and intellectuals. They could start to think that if the Canadians or Europeans do certain things, then we're entitled to do the same. All these things coming in from the outside are not good for us. (Radio La Côtière; Joal, Senegal)

I've been told that you can find some real scenes. That's no good for my conscience or for anyone else's. We can't allow that kind of thing. You open up the Internet, and you see a nude woman or words that don't go very well with our moral standards in Senegal. (Radio Oxy-Jeunes; Pikine, Senegal)

Pornography, on-line “encounters”, and information on subjects such as delinquency or prostitution can be contrary to customs and moral standards. Furthermore, some of the broadcasters mentioned that such information could be perceived as a provocation from dominant economies and as a risk to social stability. Therefore, it can be said that the Internet is seen as a showcase for the Western world in a context of underdevelopment.

I think there can be risks because we can come upon sites that are incompatible with our own way of life. We can be influenced because we're living in Africa in underdeveloped countries. Therefore we experience things in situations that are always difficult. We may aspire to live like Europeans even when we don't have the means to do so. (Radio Oxy-Jeunes; Pikine, Senegal)

Broadcasters are having a difficult time trying to position themselves somewhere between their fear of being backward and their will to affirm their own culture. Opening up to the rest of the world is a necessity, but protecting themselves is a priority. The Internet has only recently arrived in Africa, and community broadcasters are still only receiving information, using it as a one-way medium. There is still none of the kind of participation that will enable them to actively participate as information providers. However, many of the broadcasters in the workshops expressed their desire to see Africa and its radio stations develop their own sites.

Africans have to understand that it is a very useful tool and that they need to put information into it. We need to have lots of sites talking about development and about subjects relevant to Africa. (Radio Niani FM; Senegal)

Why not have Internet sites and also broadcast information on the radio? We can create sites just like anyone else can. There is some information that only we can provide. Why shouldn't we use it just like other people from other societies do on their sites? (Radio La Côtière; Joal, Senegal)

The broadcasters believed that the only way for them to make Internet content more relevant is to become involved in the Internet. This desire to participate opens the door to having the Internet serve radio. Even though most broadcasters do not yet have the technical skills required, it is relatively easy to learn and the Web offer a real possibility for exchange.

During the workshops, broadcasters said they would like to use the Internet's interactiveness in two ways:

We'll be using the Internet mostly for the purpose of sharing information with other radios. It's important that we share programming with other rural radio stations. I want to be able to pick up other stations and find out what kind of content they have and what's going on with one radio or another. I want to gather information if I think that it's useful for my own village or locality. I think that it's important to have a network of rural radio stations. (Niani FM)

The Internet will make it possible for them to find out how other stations operate and design their programming. It will also encourage mutual aid among stations for the purpose of improving practices and helping to avoid isolation in different regions of the country. The Internet can also help radio hosts to find new funders more easily.

The Internet is important on the public-relations level. It can allow us to link with other organizations that would like to act but don't know where they can do it or with those that want to invest in radio on the European level but don't know where they can be useful. (La Côtière)

Broadcasters identified two kinds of partnerships that they can establish via the Web: with other radios and associations involved in the same work as they are; and with possible funding organizations. These partnerships could help to enrich content and provide funding.

Rural radio broadcasters clearly understand how useful the Internet can be. Whatever its prospective use, the goal remains the same: to make their radio station better.

I don't think that using the Internet will prevent us from doing our local work. The Internet is an aid, and it can help me to develop themes in my own local area. It's not going to change our approach to rural radio; it's only going to complement it. (Niani FM)

With the Panos Institute's e-mail project we'll be receiving information every day from Bamako or Gao.[48] That's important because Timbuktu doesn't receive any newspapers during the rainy season. (Radio Lafia; Timbuktu, Mali)

The Internet is seen as an informational supplement and a tool for exchange, but their own communities and realities remain at the heart of the process.

The Internet is important, and it has some good stuff, but you can't spend all your time with it. You can't make a priority of things coming to us from outside because, if you do, you'll forget about your own reality. (Oxy-Jeunes; Pekine, Senegal)

The broadcasters feel that using Internet means falling into line with the rest of the world, but also that they have to ensure that the flow of foreign information does not distance them from their communities. The Internet must be included in the station's mission and should not lead them astray from it. The objective is to support existing communication processes, not to replace them.

The Internet is often called a “democratic tool” because it supposedly provides an opportunity for everyone to participate and because it is difficult to censor. However, if it is to be truly democratic, it must be accessible. At the moment there are many barriers that restrict radio stations' effective use of the Internet. These include financial barriers, organisational barriers, linguistic barriers and infrastructural ones.

Financial Barriers
After setting up the computer, we surfed for a few hours. A month later, we received a telephone bill for CFA200 000.[49] Our journalists didn't know that they had to disconnect after using the Internet. (Radio Hanna; Gao, Mali)

Financially speaking, community radios have a hard time surviving. They get along by charging small amounts for broadcasting dedications, death notices, community announcements, and personal messages. They are located primarily in rural areas where income-generating activities, including fishing and farming, do not provide people with enough to help their media to survive. Despite the potential of the Internet, the scarcity of money means that radio stations cannot use it.

The costs are even higher in the case of audio distribution projects like BDP on Line. It takes an average of one hour over an expensive telephone line to download a 15-minute programme. It is not very realistic to imagine that rural radios can exchange sound files or conduct regular searches on the Internet. Internet will become a tool that radios can use only if national and international access strategies are implemented. A priority for rural radio stations might be to lobby authorities for free or low-cost Internet access. This would certainly be a useful step toward a real democratization of the Internet.

Organizational Barriers
Even though a radio station may have a computer that can be connected to the Internet, there are significant access problems for the members of the radio team. One facet of the access problem in rural areas is clearly related to organizational deficiencies in the radio stations: the computer, a precious asset, is kept in an office, where only the director or president will have access to it. Management of community radios is often not community-style. Even when it is, there are good reasons for limiting access to the equipment.

The current problem is maintenance. There are no maintenance specialists in Bakel (a city located 750 km from Dakar). When a computer breaks down, we have to take it to Dakar. With the cost and all the risks along the way, that's a real problem. There may have been just a slight memory block, but, if we're not experts, we have to stop our work, and the computer is useless. We know that people here won't have the means to repair it. (Jiida FM; Senegal)

This kind of difficulty causes radio directors to limit computer access strictly to the most skilled radio hosts, the result being that most hosts will remain unacquainted with the Internet tool.

Linguistic Barriers
The kind of language used on the Internet poses a problem. Rural broadcasters often have a fairly low level of schooling, and, although French or English may be the official language of a country, most speak their regional languages better than the official one. At the same time, much of the useful information on the Internet is written in a complex academic language that is inaccessible to many people. Some broadcasters are so disconcerted by the kind of vocabulary that they give up using the Web.

Infrastructural Barriers
Although using modern software does not constitute a major difficulty, local infrastructure does. In theory, every Senegalese city has enough bandwidth for the use of all Internet services. (Other countries are still suffering along with the old analogue exchange systems.) However, service interruptions are frequent and sometimes very long. Even in Bamako, Mali's capital city, the coordinator of BDP on Line has sometimes gone for days without access to the Internet, shutting down the entire network. In rural areas, service can be even less reliable. The electricity grid is also susceptible to failure, with power being cut for hours or even days at a time.

Furthermore, although other equipment is at times needed, many radio stations have nothing more than the computer itself. Printers, for example, would be useful in limiting the amount of connection time, particularly in the case of distribution lists or long documents, but most stations do not have one and even paper is expensive.

The practical obstacles mentioned above all pose serious questions concerning how the Internet can be used in community radio.

At present, new communications and information technologies can probably not be of direct use to Africa's rural radio stations, at least not in the same way in which they are in more developed parts of the world. It is possible, however, to combine the most advanced technologies - Internet audio, for example - with more traditional broadcasting techniques such as “radio relay”. Audio files could be exchanged over the Internet between national “flagship” stations located in the capital (these could be community-radio associations) and then sent out by more conventional means (cassettes, CD Roms) to the member stations. Other Internet options, such as exchanging text instead of audio are more realistic for everyday radio use.

For this strategy to be feasible, however, the national flagship stations need financial resources to pay for connection and communication costs, and they themselves must belong to a network comprising several countries with the ability to produce sufficient quality programming. Such a flagship network would also need a regional hub capable of providing training, financial support for its equipment, and full-time distance (electronic) service for advice and assistance.

In addition, several “intermediary” organizations with strong local roots - such as the Panos Institute of West Africa - could help to link new technologies (the Web or satellites) with local radio stations by selecting and formatting information from the Web and by supporting the development of networks.

Making the Internet serve the needs of West African community radio is a work in progress. There is still a long road ahead, and the time it takes to get there will depend on the road conditions. That is why we need to provide routes free of potholes and obstacles, highways that are paved, fast, and efficient.

44] Those radio stations are the following: Anfani (Niger), Femmes Solidarité (Côte d'Ivoire), Golfe FM (Benin), Kledu (Mali), Korail FM (Madagascar), Minurca (Central African Republic), Nostalgie (Togo), Oxy-Jeunes (Senegal), Pulsar (Burkina), Sud FM (Senegal), Tabalé (Mali), and Studio Ijambo (Burundi).
[45] Those radio stations are the following: Anfani (Niger), Femmes Solidarité (Côte d'Ivoire), Golfe FM (Benin), Kledu (Mali), Korail FM (Madagascar), Minurca (Central African Republic), Nostalgie (Togo), Oxy-Jeunes (Senegal), Pulsar (Burkina), Sud FM (Senegal), Tabalé (Mali), and Studio Ijambo (Burundi).
[46] Participating stations were from Timbuktu, Gao, Mopti, and Ségou.
[47] Awagna FM, Gaynaako FM, La Côtière, Jeeri FM, Jiida FM, Niani FM, Oxy-Jeunes, and Penc Mi.
[48] Bamako is Mali's capital and Gao is another city in Mali.
[49] 200 000 West African Economic Community francs equals approximately US$265, Mali's per capita annual income is US$230.