Another Hit Against Free Radio in Mexico

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Report from Ke Huelga Radio on recent attacks by the State in the press that the station’s signal is a threat to air traffic.

On May 21 of this year, the commissioner-president of Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones (IFT), Gabriel Oswaldo Contreras Saldívar, made false statements that generate a climate of violence against the radio collective Ke Huelga Radio. In the “Forum. Analysis of the broadcasting sector in the framework of the approval of the “Mexican National Development Plan 2019-2024.” This even took place in the Cámara de Diputados (House of Parliament), this congressman declared:

“I think we all know the case of some illegal radio station. Do you want an example? Excuse me, you can’t hear it, but it’s illegal (SIC). Has anyone heard Ké Huelga here in Mexico City? Well, it’s illegal, sorry. And if it is going to endanger the landing of a plane in Mexico City that is in the process of approaching the airstrip, we have a problem, I say call it what you want, but it is a problem.”

The public official’s statement is absolutely false. On the same day May 21, around 17:00 hrs, the transmission equipment of the Ké Huelga Radio was checked without detecting any anomaly. On May 22, we turned off our signal to make new tests, without finding any signs of interference. Faced with the irresponsible statements of commissioner Contreras, we want to make some technical clarifications. Our radio transmits on 102.9 MHz FM while aircraft use the 108 to 137 MHz dial. The first 10 MHz are used for radio navigation aids (108 to 117.95 MHz). The voice band used by aircraft ranges from 118 to 137 MHz. Therefore, our transmission does not directly interfere with air traffic. We know the possibilities of radio transmitters producing harmonic waves, spurious waves or other “leaks” that interfere with other frequencies, but we maintain constant monitoring to ensure that our equipment does not emit this kind of signals and to remedy them as quickly as possible.

Similarly, on May 22, the monitoring service at the Control Tower of Mexico City’s International Airport denied the existence of current or past radio interference affecting the signal in Mexican aviation. In this way, we categorically deny Commissioner Contreras’ statements: Ké Huelga Radio is not interfering with any signal used by aviation service in our city.

So, why does this politician make false and irresponsible statements, He is creating a media impact, which cause fears among airplane users, Why does he criminalize our radio?

The statements of the IFT’s Commissioner President, are one more piece of the puzzle of repression, the strategy of war used by the Mexican Government against freedom of expression. Since April 1999, when Ké Huelga Radio was founded, the monopoly of communication in Mexico has been denounced, a privatizing model that has been perfected year after year, after several policy reforms and it has not left any space for the truth and for the words of many people, communities and social sectors.

Our position is to defend and take care of life without commodifying communication, support and participate in free expression and always be on the side of society making visible the great problems we live.

For 20 years, Ké Huelga Radio, like another free and community radio stations throughout the country, has been the object of a series of slanders and attacks by media monopolies and governments in turn. The strategies of governments and their institutions to silence dissident voices and critics of their neoliberal policies have been harassment, persecution, detention, murder, forced disappearance, criminalization, intimidation and blockades of FM signals. Evidence of this is repression has been on the rise:

According to Reporters Without Borders, Mexico ranks 144th in violence against communicators out of 188 countries that form the world press freedom ranking, making our country one of the most insecure to practice journalism worldwide.

For its part, Article 19 Non-governmental organization, has denounced the murder of 126 communicators from 2000 to the present, as well as the disappearance of 24 journalists since 2003.

In that black list, we highlight the murder of Samir Flores Soberanes, founder of Radio Amiltzinko, last February 20, after another irresponsible statement, in this case by the President of the Republic of Mexico.

For years here has been a policy of criminalization against free and community radio stations, raised by the IFT, which reveals its inability to see and act beyond the logic of radio concessions. For this institution, it is not a question of combating illegality, but of “cleaning up” the dial of free and community radio stations in order to hand over the frequencies to their friends, the media monopolies.

Since October 2015 we have denounced that our FM 102.9 signal suffers intermittent interference with white noise and that from October 2018 to April 2019 it practically erased our signal. We have said it several times: the institution responsible for this interference is the IFT, either because it directly places the signal that interferes with us or because it does not do something to eliminate it.

In addition, in 2016, the IFT promoted the terrible “Wanted for robbery” campaign, strongly criticized by human rights organizations, pointing out that this campaign used hostile language, criminalizing and damaging the public image of communicators, journalists and community and indigenous media, favoring their stigmatization. Already in so- called 4th transformation, 6 journalists have been murdered, and now, the alarmist statements of the IFT Commissioner-President strengthen the criminalization of those who exercise freedom of expression, under the threat of “applying the full weight of the law” accompanied, of course, by the military forces.

It is worrying that this new repressive campaign by IFT disguised as a fight against “illegality” and its representatives does not distinguish between who commercialize communication and who have a community vocation. The declaration of Gabriel Oswaldo Contreras in the legislative enclosure and in the framework of the guidelines of National Development Plan in the context of the 4T (Fourth Transformation) does not give a good sign, it is opting for a policy of persecution, for a law that deepens the criminalization of freedom of expression, rather than looking for ways that guarantee security for the full exercise of our freedoms.

The “illegality”, expressed by the IFT denies the human right to freedom of expression. Ké Huelga Radio subscribes to article 19 of the United Nations (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which establish that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and spread information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”… and our form of expression is free radio. We have been broadcasting for 20 years on the 102.9 Mhz modulated frequency and on the kehuelga.net website, through these channels we maintain open and responsible communication against the censorship imposed by the IFT and the media monopolies.

We spread the critical voices of the social movement in Mexico and the world. We do not commercialize any product, neither we spread messages and projects of political parties; therefore we comply with the project of community communication, self-managed and autonomous. We do not affect the radioelectric spectrum since we do not profit it.

Despite the interference at our signal, the harassment against us and the attacks against our communication channels, Ké Huelga Radio endorses its commitment to amplify the voices of struggle and resistance, sharing the voice of the people who need to communicate their demands, and supporting sister radio stations throughout the country with our modest capacities.

We hold the government of Mexico and the president of the IFT commissioner responsible for what happens against those of us who participate in the Ké Huelga Radio and the interference that our signal suffers. We demand respect for our free radio and we call on all our comrades to defend this space of free expression.

Respect for free and community radio projects!
Stop the repression and harassment!
Stop the interference!
No more IFT lies!
Stop the privatization of the radio spectrum!
Ké Huelga Radio
Free and Social against the power


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