On March 15, in Washington D.C., the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will hold a hearing during its 147th Period of Sessions concerning the freedom of expression of Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala. The hearing will address the status of community radio in Guatemala, which despite being guaranteed to Indigenous Peoples by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the 1996 Peace Accords, and the Guatemalan Constitution, is not legal under the country’s current telecommunications law. Cesar Gomez will represent the Guatemalan community radio movement and Cultural Survival, an Indigenous Peoples rights organization based in Cambridge, MA.
For over a decade, Indigenous radio advocates have been lobbying the Guatemalan Congress to legalize community radio. For seven years, Cultural Survival has partnered with a network of over 80 community radio stations across Guatemala, many of which broadcast in one or more of the country’s 23 Indigenous languages, in building the stations’ capacity and supporting their legalization efforts. The proposed Community Media Bill, Initiative 4087, which would create legal authorizations for nonprofit community radio by allowing Indigenous Peoples equal access to the radio spectrum, has been awaiting congressional approval since 2010.