In order to stem the pressure of migrants on the Mexican border, the USA is also using radio advertising. A State Department spokesman told CNN that more than 30,000 advertisements are aired each month on Central American stations. The aim is to counter the misinformation spread by traffickers and the idea that President Joe Biden is softer on immigration. Up until the spring, 28,000 were broadcast, but this number has risen to over 30,000 due to the ‘discounts’ offered by the broadcasters on the ‘packages’ purchased by the American administration. The radio medium was chosen to reach the largest number of people, and religious leaders and public figures were also involved in the production of the releases. The monthly budget is $600,000. The announcements, broadcast in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, are in Spanish and five indigenous languages and last 40 seconds.
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 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.