The following is a statement and report from the 13th annual meeting of community radio and media projects on the Mexican government’s recent efforts to restrict and commercialise use of the radio spectrum, effectively criminalising the country’s many free radical radio outlets.
As community radios and free media projects meeting for the 13th anniversary of Radio Ñomndaa, The Word of Water, we declare our respect for free radio broadcasting as an expression of our collective rights to self-determination, territory, communication and free expression. No agency of the Mexican government should threaten, criminalise, harass or persecute the people and communities that organize ourselves exercising our rights.
Free and community radio broadcasting has a fundamental role in the everyday organisation of our peoples. It is the manner in which we share information regarding what is happening inside our communities. It facilitates the coordination of our collective works. It is an important tool in caring for and defending life and territory. These are also spaces of expression in which women can participate freely with our word and thought. Furthermore they are seeds and fertile fields that facilitate our cultural reproduction.
The Mexican state, through their attempt to regulate the distribution of the radioelectric spectrum – the air through which circulates the radio frequencies – has generated the concentration of the media in very few companies. They have put economic interests through the giving concessions above the guarantee and respect for our collective rights. The enactment of discriminatory laws which guarantee the business of telecommunications and the large-scale sale of advertisements through radio broadcasting also condemns to illegality the grand majority of people and communities who organise to facilitate our communication through the radio.
For our peoples, communities, tribes, neighborhoods and districts, free radio broadcasting has meant a grand organizational force to obtain the basic tools allowing the functioning of our media – media we have been able to organise thanks to the collective work and solidarity support of many people in our communities as well as other parts of Mexico and the world. None of us receive, nor do we want to receive, a salary for our communication work. It is a service that we give to our communities because we are convinced that community communication is the fundamental base for the reproduction of our forms of life, with which we care for and defend Mother Earth.
Free radio broadcasting has allowed us to respond in an organized manner to the storms and hurricanes that batter our towns, to the earthquakes, but also to dispossession, repression, violence and contempt. Through our radio and free media, we learn about what is happening in other parts of Mexico and the world, with peoples and communities that also organize in defense and in care of life. In our radios, we listen to our clear, free, rebellious and honest word. Community radio broadcasting is not a business, it is a form of confirming our different way of being as part of the diversity that makes possible the reproduction of life.
Community communication is necessary to enhance the voices of the people that speak, but that are not always heard. To put into question the colonial features that still persist in Mexico and that are the cause of violence, discrimination and dispossession. It is a form of expression of diversity from where we propose alternatives of life against this system that only offers us death and destruction.
Whose spectrum is it anyway?
However, the Mexican government obligates us to ask for permission, to solicit a concession so that we can express our word and practice our communication through the frequencies with the argument that it is necessary to regulate the radioelectric spectrum. We ask, to whom should permission be asked and who authorises it? Will we ask permission to express our words to the same institutions that have provoked so much violence with their politics of war? Will we ask permission from those that have tortured, disappeared and assassinated us? Will we ask permission from those that have condemned our peoples and communities to marginalization and poverty? Will we ask permission from those that have converted nature into a commodity that can be bought and sold? Will we ask permission from those that make a business out of government and are corrupted by their absurd necessity for profit? Will we ask permission from those who enact threatening laws that subject and control the population at will? Will we ask permission from those that have endeavored to disappear our cultures as original peoples?
We claim free radio broadcasting as an expression of the exercise of our rights to territory, self-determination, communication and freedom of expression. We call on community radios and free, autonomous, independent or whatever they are called media that we organise ourselves to self-manage the radio electronic spectrum and our processes of communication.
While the air through which the frequencies travel is part of our territory, we demand from the Mexican state that our autonomy be respected. In case any institution or business wants to access the frequency to transmit inside of our territory, they should have to ask permission from the community assembly of our Indigenous communities, those who have the prioritized right over our territory as a fundamental base of the cultural reproduction and construction of a dignified and free life.
Community Radios, Free Media, Collectives, Organisations and Individual Participants in the 13th Anniversary Celebration of Radio Ñomndaa
Suljaa’ Guerrero, Mexico
December 20th, 2017
The Word of the Water is Clear, Free, Rebellious, and Honest
Never more a Mexico without us!
Originally translated by It’s Going Down
Pic: tierra radio