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Community radio station dismantled in Michoacán despite having official letter from president regarding its licensing

(CENCOS/IFEX) - On 24 January 2009, Federal Investigations Agency (Agencia Federal de Investigación (AFI) officers and officials from the Communications and Transport Secretariat (Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes, SCT) dismantled the Eiámpiti community radio station, in San Juan Nuevo Parangaricutiro, Michoacán state, western Mexico.

According to information published in "La Jornada" newspaper, the president of the organisation that manages Radio Uandárhi and a member of the Michoacán Community Radio Organisation, José Valencia Oseguera, said that the authorities sent a large contingent of officers to San Juan Nuevo Parangaricutiro's city hall, where the Eiámpiti radio station's offices are located. Valencia Oseguera noted that the size of the operation led the town's residents to believe that the officers had arrived to arrest a number of criminals.

"When the youths who are involved with the radio station realised what was happening, they very calmly presented themselves to the authorities to inquire as to what they wanted. They did not resist the officials and opened the radio station's offices. The AFI officers confiscated the radio station's antenna, mixer, compact disc players and microphones, as well as a transmitter and a computer. The authorities gave the community group that runs the radio station a document stating that the confiscated equipment would only be returned if they were able to demonstrate that they had begun the process for licensing of the station."

Radio Eiámpiti apparently has already completed this requirement since, according to Valencia Oseguera, in 2000, Xóchitl Gálvez, who was at that time the national commissioner for indigenous people's development, delivered an official letter signed by President Vicente Fox to the radio station, opening the way for the station to obtain its license. In addition, several of the town's mayors have sent applications to the SCT requesting a license for the station. On 27 January 2009, the leaders of the radio station held a meeting with San Juan Nuevo Parangaricutiro mayor and town council and asked them for information on the requirements that must be fulfilled to establish a community radio station. In the meeting, the authorities acknowledged the important role that community radio stations play in disseminating information about government programmes and projects to the population.

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