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News :: Human Rights : International : Media
Two Radio Reporters Murdered in Oaxaca
10 Apr 2008
On April 7, two radio reporters from a community radio were ambushed in Putla de Guerrero, Oaxaca, and shot to death. Teresa Bautista Flores, 24, and Felicitas Martínez, 20, two women journalists working for La Voz que Rompe el Silencio (The Voice that Breaks the Silence), were murdered allegedly by paramilitary forces. Three other people were wounded in the shooting: Jaciel Vázquez, aged 3, and his parents.
Triqui women in the Oaxaca zocalo. Photo: D.R. 2006 Nancy Davies.
In an interview with Radio Bemba in Sonora, Mexico, Jorge Albino, coordinator of La Voz que Rompe el Silencio said that the radio station had been receiving death threats since its inception. The station was inagurated on January 20 to serve the Trique indigenous community in San Juan Copala, a year after the locality was granted administrative autonomy.

The Mexican branch of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) said there have been acts of violence against other small radio stations belonging to indigenous groups in Oaxaca, such as Radio Nandia in 2006 and Radio Calenda in 2007. Reporters Without Borders, an international organization created to defend press freedom and journalists under threat, reported that risks run by the press in Oaxaca state are common, where the political climate continues to be tense.

Two journalists were murdered in Oaxaca during a major wave of protests against state governor Ulíses Ruiz Ortíz in 2006. They were Indymedia reporter and U.S. citizen Bradley Will, and Raúl Marcial Pérez, an indigenous community leader and columnist for the regional daily El Gráfico. No one has been brought to justice for their murders.

La Voz que Rompe el Silencio is considered a vital instrument to establish peace in the region, said Jorge Albino in his interview with Radio Bemba. “The blood of our colleagues were not shed in vain. In fact, it is with their blood that we will continue our work, boost the radio for the betterment of the Triquis community,” he said.

Oaxacan women rose to international prominence in 2006 when they led the takeover of a TV station during the people’s uprising in Oaxaca city. What started as a women-only march on August 1, culminated in the peaceful seizing of the state-owned television station, Channel 9. For three months, they collectively ran the station and opened a forum of discussion on the airwaves previously innaccesible to the community. Their media revolution was only haltered when the Mexican government decided to attack their own station, destroying the antenna and effectively taking them off the air. Taking over the communications broadcasting system, including several radio stations, has been heralded as a symbol of the popular movement in Oaxaca.

The Triqui indigenous people of San Juan Copala in southern Oaxaca, saw their first radio station, La Voz que Rompe el Silencio, as a major victory of their struggle. When the community declared itself an autonomous region on January 21, 2007, it vowed to stay independent from any party affiliation or influence, creating even a Police of the Community (Policia Comunitaria) to replace government armed forces in the region. The radio was to serve the Triquis people to promote unity, overcome conflicts, and encourage communication among communities, including those that are not formally members of the autonomous region. The radio stressed from the beginning the importance of promoting diversity within the station with the participation of women and particularly, the youth.

Jorge Albino reported to Radio Bemba that the two murdered journalists were in fact focusing on the process of indigenous autonomy, including health and bilingual education. Fearing the state of impunity in the region, radio administrators have circumvented local authorities and requested a federal investigation into the murders.

The Triquis Inaugurate Their New Autonomous Municipality, by Nancy Davies

Radio Bemba

Ventana a Mi Comunidad

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