Community Voices for Change

Lorenzo Mateo Francisco, a member of the community news agency Prensa Comunitaria and the coordinator of the Snuq’ Jolom Konob’ community radio station in Santa Eulalia, will speak about the importance of and repression against community journalism in Guatemala. Lorenzo is also an indigenous leader and will share information about local resistance movements, as well as the criminalization of community leaders from his region.

GHRC will accompany Lorenzo on a speaking tour in the Midwest and on the East Coast of the US from November 1-15.

Lorenzo-radioLorenzo Mateo is a Q’anjob’al indigenous leader, a member of Prensa Comunitaria, and the current coordinator of the Snuq’ Jolom Konob’ community radio station in Santa Eulalia, Huehuetenango.

In Guatemala — especially in rural areas — community radio is an important, low-cost method for sharing information, and community radio stations make up an important part of the Prensa Comunitaria news network. In indigenous communities, the stations are also used as a tool to help preserve culture and language, to defend community rights, and to engage in national debates.

Lorenzo has been involved with the Snuq’ Jolom Konob’ station for 12 years, initially as a volunteer and now as the station’s primary coordinator and as a member of its Board of Directors. The station, founded in 1999 and broadcasting in both Spanish and Q’anjob’al, has publicized important information on planned hydroelectric projects in the areas as well as corruption of local authorities. For this reason, it has also been a target of repression and attacks, and was illegally closed down in March 2015. Lorenzo, who has also received threats for his work, has been integral in seeking out support for the station and legal recourse to challenge its closure. Although the station is now broadcasting again online, its headquarters in Santa Eulalia remain shut down.

As an indigenous leader, Lorenzo also serves as a member of his area’s “Committee for Community Development.” He has been involved in efforts to preserve the Q’anjob’al language by participating in workshops on Mayan languages and contributing to a project to translate Guatemala’s constitution from Spanish into Q’anjob’al.

Events in DC & NY (Nov. 2-6)

Tuesday, November 3

7:00 PM – GHRC Annual Alice Zachmann Human Rights Defenders Award Ceremony
Address: St. Stephen’s Church, 1525 Newton St., Washington, DC 20010

Wednesday, November 4

7:00 PM – The International Mayan League Public Event: Freedom of Expression and Justice in Guatemala
Address: Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, 4444 Arlington Blvd., Arlington, VA 22204

November 5

6:30 – 8 PM – Public event: A Conversation with Lorenzo Mateo Francisco
Address: The City College of New York, Center for Worker Education, 25 Broadway, 7fl, New York, NY 10004

November 6

7 PM – Public event: Community radio in the US and Guatemala (Sponsored by Alcal Radio, Iglesia de Sion)
Address: 619 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10022

Events in the Midwest (Nov. 7-14)

November 7

5:00-6:30 PM – Public event at Oberlin College, organized by the Oberlin Students in Solidarity with Guatemala.
Address: King 106, 10 North Professor Street, Oberlin, OH 44074

November 8

4:00-8:30 PM – Inter-Religious Task Force on Central America (IRTF) Human Rights Banquet
Address: Beaumont School, 3301 N Park Blvd, Cleveland Heights OH 44118

November 9

7:00 PM – Public event at Casa Esperanza, sponsored by Plowshares
Address: 410 Arcadian Ave, Waukesha, WI 53186

November 12

12:00 PM – Chicago Religious Leadership Network Annual Luncheon
Address: Old St. Pat’s Church, 700 W Adams

3:00-4:30 PM – Zona Abierta: Testimonios: Roots of National Change (University of Illinois, Chicago)
Address: Latino Cultural Center, 803 S Morgan St., Lecture Center B2, Chicago, IL 60607