Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Blogging from the cabina del Radio Ixmukané 97.1 FM

So here I am in the cabina, a little concrete bunker on the facility of the centro de atención.  We are starting the broadcast. Very exciting, since at least one of the locutoras wasn't here yesterday. They went through the initial part, quickly; now we are in the first interview that I recorded yesterday.

Now back in the cabina; we had a delicious refacción prepared by our wonderful cook. Something similar to a tamal -- cornmeal dough, but wrapped and steamed in an edible green leaf (spinach? chard? some variant thereof) and served with a tasty sauce. 

Wilma, one of the locutoras, is giving a commentary in K'iche' about the interview we just heard, about the history of Ixmukané, that I did with Doña Matilda, one of the founders. Then she passed to Cati, and they are conversing in a mixture of Spanish and K'iche'.


Well, that was a nice idea but not very realistic. We had had too little preparation and there were too many things to do, and instructions to give on the spot, for me to continue live blogging, since I ended up sitting at the table with the locutoras the entire time they were on the air (and during many of the breaks when we had put on a recorded interview -- giving them feedback and suggestions and talking through the next segment we were going to do). I did manage to post an album of the photos on Facebook, but not to finish blogging.

One of the many interruptions that was productive for the program but not for blogging was the opportunity (well, a created opportunity) to do an interview with Rigoberta Menchú.  The occasion for the inaugural broadcast was a visit to Ixmukané from the Programa Maya, as I think I wrote in an earlier post.

There were I don't know how many representatives of the Programa Maya but they included representatives of the three UN agencies involved, the Norwegian Ambassador and some other Norwegians, maybe embassy staff (how to spot Norwegians at an event where most of the other attendees are Maya? They are the tall blond ones.) I didn't really get to hear or interact much since I was in the cabina most of the time with the women, although I did do some running back and forth.

In any case, one of the dignitaries present was Rigoberta Menchú. She is, to some Guatemalan human rights activists, a bit of a controversial figure -- not for the reasons outlined by David Stoll (to which Greg Grandin has provided what I think is the definitive response). They don't dispute that she and her family suffered in la violencia, but they do feel that she hasn't done as much as she could for the cause of human rights and indigenous rights within Guatemala. Others are somewhat critical of her political ambitions (and point out that when she ran for president, not only did she receive very few votes nationally, but she did not win a majority of votes in her home town).

However, to many rural indigenous women, she remains (and I think rightly so) a heroic figure, an example of an indigenous woman (and for folks here, the fact that she is Maya K'iche', that her mother tongue is K'iche' and that she grew up in Quiché, make her symbolism even richer). So everyone was very exciting and honored by her presence and I have to say that she was completely gracious, generous with her time and very professional and compassionate throughout.

I am a bit too tired to completely detail the day, but will get to it tomorrow or the next day. For now, I'll just say that nothing went exactly to plan (why should it have?) -- that is, for the broadcast -- and there were a lot of plans that other people had, apparently, that were not fully transmitted to us in the cabina... but all in all, it was a terrific day and the two young women who were handling the broadcast, Cati and Wilma, did a wonderful job for their first time out. After all, it's not everyone who, on their first day broadcasting at a community radio station, gets told  they going to do an interview with Rigoberta Menchú with less than 30 second to prepare (no exaggeration; I literally ran up the path ahead of Rigoberta to tell the locutoras that they were going to interview her and should each come up with two questions right away).

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