Dispatch #2: Young Worker’s Tour 2011

The Young Workers’ delegation arrived today in San Pedro Sula, and began meetings by traveling to El Progreso and meeting with a member of the Radio Progreso team.

Radio Progreso was a beacon during those dark days of the coup… I remember sitting in the CoDev office, with the Radio Progreso live stream on the screen, straining to understand, straining to figure out what was going on. On the same day as the coup took place, the military came to Radio Progreso and camped out around the building, sending the obvious message that intervention could happen at any moment. In reality, it happened the next day, when military men with guns came down the hallways, turning off microphones and shutting down the transmitter. The next day though, those courageous journalists came back to work, turning the equipment back on and tentatively speaking their minds over the airwaves again. Their voices grew in strength as the days went by.

This is a radio station that was not in its nature critical of the government, but was critical of structures that worked against the people.

It was started by Jesuits 55 years ago, with a mission to educate, entertain and inform. Since the coup, that has meant being overtly critical of a regime which is doing nothing for everyday Hondurans, and everything for the country’s elite. Their programming has changed since the coup, and the political content has become more explicit and more cutting.

Radio Progreso has also taken on the mission to become a training ground for journalists and broadcasters – we learned today that most of the staff are under 30. They produce a monthly newspaper, a weekly bulletin, a website that’s constantly updated, and of course, 19 hours of radio programming every single day. They try to be “close” to the communities they serve, and have volunteer correspondents in every remote corner of the country.

Journalists still get threats, although there are fewer of them and they are more veiled than before. But 17 journalists have been murdered since the coup, and journalistic freedom is more and more restricted as control of the media is centered with the country’s elite.

It was an honour to meet some of this dedicated team, and to glance briefly into their reality. Be sure check out their website.

Check out other posts from this delegation. While you’re at it, also check out this great blog from one of the participants, Rachel Albiez from the PSAC!

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