Guaviare Youths Construct Communication for Life

Pedro Arenas is a founding member of Juventud para el Guaviare. In the fall of 1997 Pedro came to the United States on a tour organized by the Colombia Human Rights Network. As a follow-up, a delegation traveled from Washington to Guaviare in January 1998. As reported extensively in the last issue of Colombia Update (Vol.10, Nos.1/2), Guaviare is a major crossroads in the war between the guerrillas and the government, the U.S.-backed drug war involvement aerial fumigation of crops and communities, and paramilitary incursions and massacres. Pedro has sent us the following message on a local community radio project.

San José del Guaviare, Colombia, Oct. 30/98. The social movement organization Juventud para el Guaviare, born six years ago in a territory criss-crossed by violence, the indolence of the state, and the coca problem, recently started up a community radio station.

In effect, after several years of red tape dealing with the ministry of communications and meeting its economic needs, this group of young people inaugurated their broadcasts in July 1998, using rudimentary equipment installed in the lot that they acquired to build their site. They began with two hours daily of tests and today they have music and cultural information programming from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

The working team—journalists, advertisers, and radio announcers—are members of Juventud who, with the support of local small businesses and donations from the other members, maintain the programming that already covers many square kilometers.

The radio station is community-based and has among its objectives to develop culture, education for democracy, environmental education, economic alternatives to coca, and the bringing the institutions and the community together.

Currently we are beginning to take the next steps to obtain resources for technical equipment and training. Our goal: to make the radio project an encounter with life.