GUATEMALA: Radio warns Maya of COVID

Radio Naköj promotes the participation of indigenous peoples in communication to foster social change
Radio Naköj promotes the participation of indigenous peoples in communication to foster social change
Source

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

A group of volunteers photographed in the radio studios during a live broadcast
Source

An extensive article can be read in 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.