Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Let's Get the Voice of the Indigenous Movement in Cauca Back on the Air!

Hello folks,

I just thought I'd share with you some thoughts about the event we participated in over the weekend in Huntington, Long Island, the first of several benefits that we are committed to doing in support of the Communication Team of the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca, ACIN.

On Sunday, February 15th, the LI School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch LI) and the Cinema Arts Center hosted a special benefit fundraiser for ACIN's Radio Payumat, the voice of the Nasa people of northern Cauca, which has been off the air since mid-December after an act of sabotage destroyed the station's transmitter. The urgency of the situation could not be greater, given the current situation in the region, and recent events directly targeting the indigenous movement. It was felt by the people present at Sunday's event.

I was joined by my friend and colleague Tiokasin Ghosthorse and about 120 local activists and community members from throughout the N.Y. metropolitan area, who came together to hear about the struggle of Colombia's indigenous movement, and the importance of community radio in that struggle. Tiokasin, who hosts First Voices Indigenous Radio on WBAI Radio, described why the voices of the south need to be heard here in the U.S., where the social and economic crisis we are facing had been forewarned for generations by indigenous peoples.

As part of the three hour event, which included a hearty brunch prepared by the folks at the CAC, we presented the award-winning documentary film produced by ACIN's Communication Team which depicted the 2006 attack carried out by Colombian security forces against the indigenous community mobilized in the resguardo of La Maria, in Cauca (the film in English is called We Are Raised with the Staff of Authority in Hand). Afterwards, we discussed at length the events of last year's Popular and Indigenous Minga, which lasted over six weeks and moved 40,000 people throughout the country in a mass protest against the government's security and development policies.

Most importantly, we were able to raise some much-needed funds for Radio Payumat, in order to help them get back on the air as soon as possible, which is critical at this point in time. In the coming weeks, we will be holding similar events around the tri-state area, in order to raise money for ACIN's communication team, but also to raise awareness and build solidarity for the indigenous movement as they prepare to continue the MINGA of 2008 throughout this year. We have a special screening scheduled at the Bluestockings Bookstore in Lower Manhattan on Thursday, February 26th, and we are planning other events in Queens, Brooklyn, New Jersey and other areas in the coming weeks.

If you are interested in hosting such an event, with video and other visuals, as well as music, please contact us at marioradio@gmail.com.

For more information about how you can help support the push to get Radio Payumat's transmitter back on the air, send us an email at marioradio@gmail.com.

And thanks for all your support!

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