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Unidentified individuals cut cables supporting LT 43 Radio Mocoví's antenna in Chaco Province

(FOPEA /IFEX) - FOPEA condemns the attack on LT 43 Radio Mocoví radio station in Charata, Chaco province, on the night of 1 April 2009. Unidentified individuals cut six steel cables that supported the station's antenna, causing it to fall. As a result, the station is no longer able to broadcast on the AM frequency. The 93 metre tall antenna was located at the radio station's generating plant, nine kilometres south of Charata.

The radio station's owners filed a complaint about the attack with the Charata police department as well as with the Investigations Division and the Chaco Interior Ministry. In their complaint, they refer to a "political purpose" behind the attack, indicating that it may be connected to the station's criticisms of the local authorities' handling of dengue fever in the area. According to information obtained by FOPEA, the police are investigating the incident, although they have not yet been able to determine who was behind the attack.

Juan Alberto Mieres, who is in charge of programming for the station, told FOPEA that "three teams of investigators were sent by the provincial authorities to work with the local police on the case," but "until now they have not come to any conclusions about who might have been involved in the attack." Mieres added that the station has always been very critical of the local government administrator with respect to the dengue fever problem, but that he does not believe that is why the antenna was destroyed.

Juan Carlos Barros, a Radio Mocoví announcer, said that he believes that the individuals who carried out the attack took advantage of the cover of night and the antenna's relatively remote location, far from the city. "We have some idea of who could have done this, but we cannot say anything because we do not have proof," he added. Barros said that the owners of the station will probably be able to install a new antenna for a cost of 250,000 pesos (approx. US$68,000), but that it will be out of service for nearly 40 days. Meanwhile, the station can be heard on the Internet and on FM 95.7, although the FM frequency's reach is more limited than the AM frequency, which was able to reach a number of remote areas in Chaco and the neighbouring provinces.

FOPEA is concerned over the attack on LT 43 Radio Mocoví and believes that it damages freedom of expression and diminishes the ability of the region's citizens to access information. As such, the organisation calls on the authorities in the province of Chaco to fully investigate the attack on the radio station.

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