We reported (March 2021) on the sale of several foreign holdings by the Prisa group (see here). The company, which is present in 24 countries, owns brands such as Santillana (prints 106.5 million books that reach 34 million students in Latin America every year), El País (Spain’s largest daily newspaper), Los40 (founded in 1966 as a programme of Cadena Ser, since 1979 a network in Spain, it is present in several Latin American countries), and Cadena Ser (the radio network listened to by four out of ten Spaniards).
In Central America, the elimination of the editorial staff ofRadio Panamá (27 people, including the staff of Los40) and the consequent suspension of broadcasting is not going unnoticed. The former director of information services Edwin Cabrera told the Panamanian newspaper La Prensa that the owners had wanted to get rid of the journalists for some time and had challenged the dismissal. He doubts the reasons for the opaque operation and speculates that behind the economic issues there may be an exchange of favours with political power to silence an uncomfortable voice.
We have already talked about the role played by community radio stations during the pandemic, in involving the population in rural areas and explaining the safety measures needed to prevent infection. The biggest problem is language barriers, such as those that Radio Naköj, a Guatemalan radio station that since 2013 has been speaking to the Kaqchikels, one of the indigenous Mayan peoples of the highlands, has been able to overcome with ease. The station, which broadcasts on 99.1 MHz from Santo Domingo Xenacoj, a municipality in the department of Sacatepéquez, aired stories with educational messages on how to prevent contagion. Explaining with grace and imagination how to use a mask correctly, the importance of washing hands or even bartering strategies to deal with the economic crisis.
A battle against discrimination
An extensive article can be readin the periodical Lado B, which, in addition to the radio station’s activities, talks about the discrimination against indigenous peoples. Although they are not a minority, they represent 43.8% of the inhabitants out of a total of 16.6 million: of these, more than a million are Maya Kaqchikel. Yet, the state does not inform them in their own language and allocates only a third of its spending (compared to mestizos and Latinos) for health services, education and social protection.
With the pandemic, many Honduran radio stations have had to suspend broadcasts for four to five months because staff became ill and because of the economic crisis that has forced many companies to close, increasing unemployment. Now, fearing that the situation in the South American country will worsen, Carlos Enamorado, secretary of the Community Media Association of Honduras (AMCH), is asking for international aid to survive. In Honduras today there are more than 50 community broadcasters (not all of them authorized), of which 35 are active, and three community television channels, authorized but not yet operational due to the investments required to start broadcasting. More than 400 non-Community radio and television stations are active in the country. The HolaNews article discusses the situation in detail.
The voice-over, typical of the Cuban announcer, has become a reference model in Latin America, where it has imposed itself thanks to the professionalism and the many radio stations with an international vocation and especially the programs broadcast on short waves by Radio Habana Cuba. “The word “, writes Jorge Rivas Rodriguez in Cuba Periodistas, “is one of the professions that most touches the cultural, educational, ideological and informative formation of Cubans, has the magic of persuasion, the power to stimulate feelings and emotions through the domain of the word that has become a watermark for our ears”. The announcers, who celebrated their national day in December, are hundreds of professionals from national TV and regional offices, employed in the country’s nearly one hundred stations or working on Radio Habana Cuba‘s international programs.
The Nicaraguan radio station’s medium wave transmission antennas have been sabotaged again on July 12th, 2020. With 25 kW of power their broadcasts are receivable in a large part of the Central American country. Some cables taking the signal to the antenna were cut, thus damaging the transmitter and interrupting the service. The radio station is continuing on 97.5 MHzFM (with 1 kW and limited coverage) as well as on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. According to the technicians, repair work could take four months.
On examining where the material had been removed, the radio station’s technicians suspect that the thieves knew exactly how the antennas worked. A political motive is also suspected. Radio Corporación is the top radio station in the country and has continuously broadcast civil protests against the authoritarian regime of President Daniel Ortega.