Articles by: Teo Ballvé
Last July, two armed men in uniform identifying themselves as “Black Eagle” paramilitaries stopped a vehicle traveling to the small town of San José de Apartadó in northwest Colombia. They forced Dairo Torres from the car at gunpoint and told the driver to be on his way. Minutes later another car passed and discovered Torres’ lifeless body in the mud. He had been shot at close range.
In recent years, grassroots media have been critical to social uprisings throughout Latin America. The short-lived coup against Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez would have turned out quite differently if not for community outlets breaking the information blockade imposed by anti-government corporate media. Grassroots radio has served as the central nervous system of Bolivia’s massive rural-urban uprisings, and Ecuador’s call-in radio station Radio Luna was instrumental in the overthrow of former president Lucio Gutiérrez. Even in the United States, Latino media have been key to filling the streets. But the use of media in the 2006 uprising in Oaxaca, Mexico, stands apart. There, activists didn’t just use the media; they expropriated them.
When Eugenio Kasalaba awoke on March 24, 1976, in Argentina’s northeastern-most province of Misiones, he and his father began the day with their usual routine of heating water and turning on the radio. But instead of the expected news program or an old tango, they heard an unmistakable sign of the coming terror: “Avenida de las Camelias,” the Argentine military’s favorite marching-band song, all across the radio dial, the same song. Stunned, Kasalaba muttered, “Papá, el golpe, el golpe” (Dad, the coup, the coup). Without taking his eyes off the radio, his father replied, “Come, let’s have a mate.”