Tuesday, May 15, 2007

VENEZUELA: The Gift of Native Tongues, On the Air

By Humberto Márquez

CARACAS, May 4 (IPS) - Eiker García and Nelson Maldonado took a deep breath, then exhaled slowly, producing a long "mmm" sound, following the instructions of the professional radio presenter who was giving them breathing and elocution lessons.

García and Maldonado are young Ye'kuana Indians from the Watamo and La Esmeralda communities in the Amazon rainforest some 800 kilometres south of Caracas, where one of eight indigenous community radio stations, networked with the public Venezuelan National Radio (RNV) station, is to be installed later this year.

"We're learning to overcome our fear of the microphone and how to conduct interviews," García told IPS during a break in the lessons. He was still enjoying the excitement caused by his first airplane flight.

Maldonado told IPS that very few of their people were qualified for this work. "The community sent us on this first course because we are cultural promoters back home," he said.

Twenty-one young people from 10 different indigenous groups, nearly all of them from remote border regions, participated in the short introductory course on radio broadcasting in late April, in preparation for the installation of the radio stations next October.

The course was provided by the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL).

"CONATEL will assign the frequencies and provide the transmitters and other necessary equipment to instal eight FM stations, and will also give support in technical and management aspects to guide those responsible for the facilities," general services manager for CONATEL Wilfredo Morales told IPS.

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Related Story:
ARGENTINA: First-Ever Permit for Indigenous Community Radio - May 2005


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