Help to Save Arenal Stereo in the town of Arenal

(Translated by Jessica Schwartz, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by John Laun )

Statement to Regional, National, and International Public Opinion

The Cultural Rescue Foundation-FUREC, with NIT.806.014.142-2, is a non-profit organization (article 1 of the FUREC by-laws, and decree 1981 of 2003) that has legal responsibility and is the license holder for providing of the Community Service of Radio Sonora Broadcasting (community radio) on the FM band, according to Resolution No.001729 of August 29, 2008, granted by the Ministry of Communications, now the Ministry of Information Technology and Communication, the license under the name of community radio station ARENAL STEREO, for the town of Arenal. FUREC reports and expresses the following to the community:

1- As is known to all, the Cultural Rescue Foundation-FUREC has gone through several difficulties in defending the community radio station, for the service of the community and for the fulfillment of the social objective for which it was licensed, difficulties that have been constantly condemned for human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law.

2- Among these difficulties, we cite the repetitive complaints presented by the Mayor against the foundation as the license holder of the community radio station.

3- It is worth pointing out that the foundation as the license holder for the operation of the station has made every effort to sustain itself for the service of the community, for which it has been necessary to establish alliances and agreements with the churches and other entities, to have raffles and bingo events, to sell tamales, and to make arrangements with various entities, for the purpose of dealing with the debt left by the previous administration under the mayor’s leadership. The value of the debt is 24 million pesos, of which almost 8 million was owed to the Ministry, including penalties for non-payment of spectrum usage. At present only one payment is owed. The rest of the total debt corresponds to penalties for taxes owed to DIAN for failure to file reports and tax returns by the due dates, which is already settled in full. Another part of the debt corresponds to the electrical service for past years, which we are paying. And finally another part is for general maintenance of the equipment, which was done because they were delivered to us in bad condition, and others which we bought new, as is the case for the link.

4- The members of the social movement and particularly those of us of the foundation have always been marked, stigmatized, excluded, and persecuted by the Municipal Clerk (Personero), the Municipal Administration, and law enforcement (police).

5- As one of the recent events worth mentioning, on November 18, 2014, the Cultural Rescue Foundation-FUREC, the organization leading the Community Radio process, and the Youth Group Transforming the Radio-CJTR conducted a communication workshop at the community center with the support of the People’s Congress to strengthen the efforts of the community radio station. A uniformed and armed police officer approached the mesh enclosure of the community center to what was being said and turned on the radio so that the police station could listen and observe who participated. The community made them leave taking photographs.
On December 14, 2014, the Cultural Rescue Foundation-FUREC, the organization leading the efforts of the Community Radio, and the Youth Group Transforming the Radio-CJTR, carried out an integration activity in the community center. At about 6:30 p.m., police officers entered the community center asking for those responsible for the event. A young man, José Antonio Peña, presented himself and they asked him for the identification card (cedula) of the person and took pictures of it. Hours later at about 10:30 p.m., the police entered arbitrarily without answering when the community asked them what they wanted and approached the youths within the event. The community members took pictures of them, and the police finally gave their attention to the community and, after an exchange of words in which they stated to them that taking pictures was worthless, they left the community center.

On February 17, 2015, at about 7:45 a.m., a police patrol that was commanded by Patrolman Luis Navarro accompanied by the municipal clerk (Personero) appeared at the facility where the community radio station is located. They asked the people who were in the radio station at that time to turn off the station and told them that they would take persons who did not provide information as detainees to the police station for not providing information. While this was taking place, one of the people in the station called the Public Defender’s office for the Middle Magdalena region, informing them of the situation. As soon as they told the police that they had informed the Public Defender’s office of the situation, they left. The municipal clerk (Personero), from the moment that the Cultural Rescue Foundation-FUREC, as a licensed holder for the operation of the community radio station, retook the station and placed it in the service of the community, has incited the communities to file complaints against the foundation so that the Ministry will close the station.

On February 21, 2015, the Committee on Dialogue in the South of Bolívar, Central and South Cesar-CISBCSC, in partnership with the Foundation Alma, conducted an event called Forest, Water and People on February 19, 20, 21, and 22 at the community center. At around 6:00 p.m., patrolman Luis Navarro, uniformed and armed, approached the mesh enclosure of the community center. He spoke with two civilians and then began to record with a cell phone hidden in a tree. When the community members began to take pictures, the officer hid his face behind the phone and left.

6- As is evident, we members of the foundation find ourselves at risk. Our rights have been violated, we fear for our physical integrity, and we believe that we have no guarantees for the development of the exercise of free speech.

7- The community radio station has contributed to improving the quality of life of the residents of Arenal and the inhabitants of the region, but it is also contributing to building peace with social inclusion and justice by generating spaces for meeting and dialogue.

8- We demand that the Comptroller’s office, (Controlaria), the Inspector General’s office (Procuadoria), the Attorney General’s office (Fiscalia) and the National Public Defender’s office (Defensoria Nacional del Pueblo) investigate the actions of the Municipal Police of Arenal, the Mayor’s office, and the Municipal Clerk (Personero) and establish responsibility for the intentional nature of their actions..

9- We would like to put on the record for the community that contributions and donations made by public and private entities and institutions to the foundation, constitutionally, are used to strength the organization and not for private benefit.

10- We ask for the solidarity and accompaniment of the organizations which are defenders of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law so that they will accompany the process of the Community Radio.

Arenal, February 17, 2015



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