Community Radio in El Salvador
Radio Sumpul is noncommercial, community radio broadcasting from Guarjilla in Chalatenango province. It is part of a network of community radio stations stretching across El Salvador known as ARPAS.
Radio Sumpul, like other stations in ARPAS, plays a variety of music, news and educational programs for all ages of listeners. The operation at Radio Sumpul is staffed by volunteers. One of the staff explained to me that the volunteers, most of whom are women, work at the station because they are commited to the project and because they are able to gain experience working with the technology of an actual radio station.
Radio Sumpul and the other radio stations do not accept political ads from any political party. Accepting ads or endorsing candidates could jeopardize their ability to function independently.
Radio Sumpul has a sister radio station at WERU in Blue Hill and Bangor, Maine. On the website archives at WERU you can listen to a variety of reports broadcast originally by Radio Sumpul, as well as WERU reports related to El Salvador. From WERU's website:
Radio Sumpul is named for the Sumpul river, and in memory of the massacre that occurred there in 1980, in which more than 600 people were killed by the Salvadoran and Honduran armies as they attempted to flee the war by crossing the river to safety in Honduras. As the war raged on, through the 1980s and early 90s, many people decided to return to their communities. Radio Sumpul is coordinated by CCR, (Rural Communities of Chalatenango), a branch of CRIPDES (The Association of Rural Communities for the Development of El Salvador). CRIPDES was founded in 1984 by refugees of the war. They organized themselves and returned to their communities, even while the war was still raging on. Today the groups focus on organizing in their rural communities for social and economic justice.
In a country where television and newspapers are dominated my major business interests, and where internet access is limited, Radio Sumpul and the other community radio stations provide an important independent voice on the Salvadoran airwaves.