Two community radio stations, six local TV channels shut down in Guatemala

The Center for Informative Reports of Guatemala (Cerigua in Spanish) criticized the closure of two community radio stations and six local television channels so far in May. According to Cerigua, dozens of community broadcasters operate illegally because of a lack of legislation that would grant them operating licenses. As a result, the stations often suffer persecution at the hands of local authorities.

On Tuesday, May 8, Cerigua reported that officials from the prosecutor's office and national civil police raided the station Radio Uqul Tinamit, in the city of San Miguel Chicaj in central Guatemala and arrested radio journalist Bryan Espinosa. The same say, officials confiscated the equipment of indigenous radio station Jun Toj.

"Most community radio stations are run by volunteers and often the stations run the risk of being closed by authorities for lack of permits to operate," according to the human rights organization.

A journalist in the eastern city of Chiquimula said that the local cable company TL COM unjustifiably stopped braodcasting his news program, Énfasis, which has been on the air for 19 years.

Additionally, in the department (state) of Suchitépequez in southern Guatemala, various journalists criticized the closure of six local television stations because of pressure from the mayor, Roberto Lemus, who tolerates no criticisms of his administration, reported the Press and Society Institute. As of April 25, only one channel is left in the city of Mazatenango since the cable company Cable DX de-activated the other stations' signals in order to protect a contract with the city for security cameras, reported the site Noticias de Guatemala. As a consequence, some 24 television employees have been left unemployed in the city, according to Cerigua.