Why is community radio in Guatemala important?

Why is community radio in Guatemala important?

Sumpango, Guatemala – Sitting in a courtyard, wearing an indigenous huipil dress, Amanda Chiquito glows as she talks about the challenges and successes of working with the community radio station in Sumpango Sacatepequez, Guatemala.

“There is no media that represents our community,” the 25-year-old says.

“There wasn’t a media outlet that could inform us and keep our culture and language alive,” she tells Al Jazeera.

Chiquito is a reporter and radio host at Ixchel Radio, the only community station in Sumpango Sacatepequez, a small town 42km from Guatemala’s capital.

More than 95 percent of the town’s 50,000 inhabitants are indigenous, living in remote areas, where access to information and technology is limited.

“Ixchel Radio represents the goddess Ixchel, she is the goddess of weaving, the goddess of fertility,” Chiquito says.

“So, Ixchel Radio was thought up because its purpose is to weave communication throughout the population.”

Radio has become an essential tool for communication in Sumpango, but due to government restrictions, getting on the airwaves has proved challenging.

Radio Ixchel was founded in 2003 by three indigenous men who “felt the need to reach out to [the] community”, according to founder Anselmo Xunic. 

Today, the station broadcasts daily from 6am to 10pm. Programming is led by a group of volunteers and touches on varied educational content as well as social issues.

“We have programmes for kids, young adults, women,” Chiquito says.

“We also have a section for Alcoholics Anonymous where we speak about the importance of not becoming addicted to anything,” she adds.

Xunic says the station also informs the community about the issues that affect them the most, including corruption in the media and the government.

According to Xunic, Radio Ixchel has also focused on recruiting female reporters and hosts.

“One of our priori

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