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Critical community radio station in Mérida suspects government sabotage behind transmitter damage

(IPYS/IFEX) - Since 22 April 2008, the community-based radio station Ecos 93.3 FM has not been able to broadcast due to damage to its transmitter. Station staff believe that the electricity outage that caused the damage to the transmitter was deliberate and in reprisal for the station's criticisms of the municipal council and administration of Mérida, a city in western Venezuela. The radio station is located in the Mérida neighborhood of Pueblo Nuevo.

The electricity failure took place when reporters working for the station were covering the eviction of four families from a neighborhood in the city. The station's producer, Luis González stated that the interruption in electrical service that caused the damage was a deliberate act of sabotage by the state-run energy company, the Compañia Anónima de Fomento Electrico (CADAFE), responsible for electrical services in the region, perpetrated in reaction to the station's critical stance toward local authorities.

CADAFE's communications coordinator, Omar Borrero, told IPYS that the organisation's Operations and Distribution Centre (Centro de Operaciones y Distribución) did not report any failures or interruption of services on 22 April, so the damage to the station's transmitter must have stemmed from some other cause.

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