Int'l broadcasters condemn Mexican policy of targeting community radio stations

After the shutdown of two community radio stations in Mexico during the past two weeks, the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) is calling on Mexican authorities to stop "criminalizing" community stations, reported Púlsar, the information agency for AMARC of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Rather than "creating legislation and public policies that generate conditions for the legal existence of the broadcasters," the Mexican government instead is shutting down, suing and fining community radio stations for using frequencies without proper authorization, IFEX said.

For example, Federal Telecommunications Commission officers recently arrived at the former offices of Radio Diversidad, in Paso del Macho, Veracruz. Shut down since 2010, two of the station's members now are being prosecuted under a law that stipulates jail time for operating a radio station without a license, IFEX said.

Also, about 30 officers in six vehicles, including an armored car, recently were stationed at the entrance to the town of Xaltepec, in the eastern state of Puebla, to prevent any residents from trying to stop officers from shutting down the community station of Radio Xalli, AMARC said. AMARC called the officers' actions "abusive" and "intimidating," as Radio Xalli has been operating with a license since early 2010, according to La Jornada de Oriente.

The repression against community radio in Mexico comes as community stations in nearby Honduras have seen an increase in threats, harassment and violence.

For example, earlier this month the president of the community radio station La Voz de Zacate Grande was shot in the leg and hospitalized after being attacked by individuals upset with the station's stance in support of a peasant group that opposes a local biofuels magnate. Hours after the attack, another reporter from the same station received a death threat.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.