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Radio Ñomndaa [The Word of the Water]

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Radio Ñomndaa is an indigenous community radio station that began broadcasting in December 2004 in the Mexican state of Guerrero. It was formed as part of the autonomous organising of the Nanncue Ñomndaa people in the rural municipality of Suljaa', also called Xochistlahuaca. Independent of political parties and religious creeds, the station is not envisioned as an end in itself, but, rather, as a tool to encourage a broader reflection which will help strengthen the culture and the organisation of the Nanncue Ñomndaa people.

Communication Strategies: 

In both Ñomndaa and Spanish, the station transmits (on 100.1 FM and streaming online) the customs and traditions of the Nanncue Ñomndaa, rooted in respect and recognition for the region's cultural diversity. The station is supported by community work, listeners' donations, assistance from solidarity groups, and the collective's own activities; no government support has been offered or accepted. The station strives to embrace and encourage the strength and value of the culture, identity, institutions, and values of the Nanncue Ñomndaa people.

 

The station began transmission as a means of exercising the right to indigenous autonomy, reflecting this in the contents and information broadcast. As David Valtierra, founder of the station, explains: "We speak about our history of marginalization and struggle, and about our dreams of freedom; we report violations of human and collective rights; we share information on events occurring at an international or a national level; we encourage reflection on the challenges we face as a people, as Mexicans, and as human beings; we propose and support alternatives in regard to the problems we face; we show solidarity with the struggles of our peers." Radio Ñomndaa has also become a platform for musicians to record their own albums, as well as a tool to facilitate communication between different communities, some of which are geographically isolated.

 

Since the beginning, the project has made room for the people of the region to participate in the preparation of the programme contents so that they respond to the interests of men and women of all ages. In fact, according to organisers, the majority of Nanncue Ñomndaa and mestizo communities in the municipality participate in the station's operation through grassroots committees. The participation of women, for example, is reflected in the programme Women of Xochistlahuaca, which explored issues of reproductive health, women's rights, and familial problems. Women approached the station with issues, or, in some cases, the women presenters asked different groups of women to speak about the topic they wished to communicate to the station's audience. According to organisers, for many of these women, being given a voice and being listened to via the radio has been a chance to learn a new way of communicating and, at the same time, a means of enabling their participation in other community spaces.

Development Issues: 

Rights.

Key Points: 

According to organisers, the high concentration of broadcast concessions and permissions in very few hands has resulted in a limited range of voices and opinions in Mexico's media. Reportedly, the nation suffers a monopoly in both the private sector (the powerful media groups, Televisa and TV Azteca, control the majority of radio and television stations), and in the public sector (where universities, Congress, and state governments control the airwaves). Since community radio stations were declared unconstitutional in the Federal Telecommunications Law [Ley Federal de Telecomunicaciones] and the Radio and Television Law of 2006 [Ley de Radio y Televisión de 2006], they exist and operate in a legal vacuum.

 

To demonstrate that Radio Ñomndaa is an authentically community project, organisers cite the following event, which occurred on July 10 2008. That day, some 40 members of the police (federal and state) and representatives of the Secretariat of Communication and Transport (SCT) attempted to seize the radio equipment and shut the station down. More than 200 community members mobilised to halt the actions of the police and government representatives, thus succeeding in their peaceful defense of the radio station and stopping its closure. [The reason given for this attempted closure was that the station was transmitting without a license. The station had reportedly previously been victim to acts of defamation, aggression, and intimidation, in which the Mexican Army had also participated. The State has also used legal institutions to criminalise agrarian authorities and station members. Numerous organisations reacted to this hostile situation, denouncing the intervention of the SCT and demanding that the rights to freedom of expression and information be respected. Subsequently, the Federal Telecommunications Commission (COFETEL) offered to grant the station a license. The community's assembly discussed the offer and eventually decided to reject it, and not solely because of the conditions imposed by COFETEL, such as the required transmission of electoral announcements and those of political parties. Beyond that, the members of the station have positioned their choice as a vindication of their rights.]

Contact Information: 
See video
Source: 

"Radio Ñomndaa, The Word of the Water", by Iñigo Prieto Beguiristáin, June 2 2009 - part of the CIP Americas Program's series of 10 Citizen Action Profiles on Communication Rights; Radio Ñomndaa website, January 28 2010; and email from Radio Ñomndaa to The Communication Initiative on June 24 2012.

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