Mexico - INDEPENDENT MEDIA
Fighting for Free Radio in Mexico CityOnto and Kev - imc reporters in Mexico City 18 Apr 2005 07:16 GMT
Radio Zapote, a free radio transmitting from the National School of Anthropology and History (ENAH) in Mexico City, received word from a school official that they were to be evicted in two weeks.
The news came as a surprise to members of the radio's collective, who, in constant dialogue with the school, were only incidentally informed of the intention of eviction. Tuesday, Thomas Stanford, a professor at the ENAH who has been harassing Radio Zapote for years, arrived in the radio's space with an engineer to take measurements for his furniture, as if the radio was on the way out.
Confused and insulted, a member of the radio approached Federico Martinez, Secretary of Academics and charged with the responsibility of the communicating between Radio Zapote and the school by the director of the ENAH. Martinez them that, according to previous agreement between the Radio and the ENAH, Zapote was to be out of the space in two weeks.
Radio Zapote not only had never come to any such agreement, they had never received a request asking them to leave nor were previously aware of any desire on the part of the school that they should leave.
Last Wednesday, in a meeting called by Radio Zapote with the director of the ENAH to discuss the possible eviction, the director told them that the school has no plan to evict, that Thomas Stanford had acted inappropriately and Federico Martinez' comment that the radio was being evicted did not reflect the official position of the school.
But the members of Radio Zapote are still concerned by the ambiguous promises and contradictory information from the distinct authorities of the school. Why would the very school official responsible with overseeing the relationship between the ENAH and Radio Zapote tell them they are being evicted if there was no such plan?
In an interview the Director told us, "There is no indication of eviction. There is the indication to analyze the situation, and if there is a better space to offer [Radio Zapote], we will give them this better space and offer the space [of Radio Zapote] to other groups. No decision has been taken. We are seeking better alternatives."
Two days after their meeting with the Director of the ENAH, Radio Zapote feels the situation has relaxed, but their remains an environment of unease due to contradictory indications from the school.
The news of their possible eviction came just a few weeks after what members of Radio Zapote call a coup d'etat within the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), the federal institution, within which the ENAH is incorporated, that governs anthropological questions within the Republic. Following the surprising resignation of the democratically elected Sergio Raúl Arroyo García two weeks ago, Luciano Cedilla, referred to by national paper La Jornada as the Trojan Horse of neoliberalism working against national interests and the essential tasks of the institution," was unilaterally named director of the INAH.
Members of Zapote consider the possibility that any intention on the part of the ENAH to evict them, could be due to pressure from Cedillo.
Radio Zapote calls for solidarity from the students, professors and workers of the ENAH, other Free Radios and media activists in Mexico City and the world, not only in their own struggle, but with that of the free radio movement in general, which faces an increasingly difficult political climate in Mexico.
Six months ago, the Secretary of Communication and Transportation (SCT), the Federal organization responsible for the execution of communication laws, released 13 licenses, mostly to community radio in indigenous regions.
Many in the free radio movement feel that, by legitimizing a few radios, the release of these permissions represents a public de-legitimization of unlicensed radios in general, and, in the concrete, an inevitable show of force on the part of the SCT.
Radio Zapote began transmitting in 2001, when the caravan of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) made its home in the ENAH while in Mexico City. It continues in its communitarian goals, providing the resource of radio to professors, students and workers in the school, and whoever else decides to participate, transmitting music, news, and cultural information on 94.1 FM and on the Internet.
Zapote is the only anthropology based radio station transmitting on the internet from Latin America. It has for years transmitted forums, discussions and events of the school. It has even helped resolve the difficulty of the school's lack of technological infrastructure, digitalizing audio and books of anthropological relevance for professors and students. The department of media and communication now contains almost 1,000 digitalized books, thanks to Radio Zapote and the work of its members. The radio is an integral part of the life of the university and the independent media movement in Mexico City.