The right to communicate gains relevance at the World Social Forum in Venezuela
By Dafne Sabanes Plou
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA, 03 February 2006
The Coalition for the Right to Communicate in Latin America and the Caribbean launched a continental campaign during a panel held concurrently at the VI World Social Forum and the II Social Forum of the Americas in Caracas, Venezuela, on the 26th of January.
Many of the members of this campaign participated in a press conference on the subject at the end of the panel, during which they reaffirmed the efforts made by various organisations and regional communication networks to strengthen the actions of all the independent and community media, communications networks, personalities and institutions that fight against the concentration of media in the hands of a few internationally funded companies, as well as in favour of democratisation of messages and communication.
“The current situation of the global concentration of the largest and most powerful media leads to uniformity in the message, content, and culture”, noted Carlos Rivadereyra, from APC member and AMARC (World Community Radio Association) representative, CEPES-Peru. “We want to democratise the communication as a fundamental right to human beings, in other words, for media to become a public service, with journalists who are the authors of an authentic message and committed to the people”.
Roberto Savio, from IPS (Inter Press Service) referred to the fact that “the global process of media content homogenisation has led the population to only see a part of the reality in which events take place, and not the processes. Faced with the concentration of media institutions in the hands of a few actors that often do not see reality from the perspective of the people, the idea is to take media to the communities and for them to transmit what they feel and think. This distortion in the work that the media does makes them into marketing machines, rather than information facilitators”.
Roberto Savio also added that “culture is the main reason to democratise the message, without an autochthonous culture, we could not carry out this goal. In such a way that the state has the duty to support culture, educate and facilitate information for its people about their roots.”
Regarding the manner in which the campaign is being carried out in the continent, Ana Maria Rodriguez from OCLACC (Latin American and Caribbean Communication Organisation) stated: “The campaign takes shape according to each country and the communicative needs of each region to support the growth of radios and community TV that transmit their own essence.”
The Coalition for the Right to Communicate in Latin America and the Caribbean aims at reaffirming the right to communicate as a fundamental human right and to understand communication and the media as a public goods, whose purpose goes beyond technological and commercial aspects that organisations like the World Trade Organisation, FTAA and free trade agreements that want to transform all media into lucrative private corporations and communication in mere merchandise.
With this concern, from the I Social Forum of the Americas, which took place in July 2004 in Ecuador, 8 continental communication networks (ADITAL, ALER, AMARC, APC, ALAI, OCLACC, WACC, RADIPAZ) approved a proposal of joint actions and the public letter “Another communication is possible” on the need to generate a movement that would involve all those people and institutions interested in joining efforts to make the relevance of the right to communicate reality in the Americas.
The communicators that make up the coalition affirm that the fight for the right to communicate forces them to strengthen the popular, community, alternative and indigenous media that have been gradually put together with a great deal of effort. This involves various tasks, especially the articulation of the work between communicators, social movements, organisations, and networks among others.
The World Social Forum, celebrated in Caracas, was yet another example of the need to strengthen the right to communicate by respecting pluralism, diversity, and media independence. Some 4900 journalists from the region and the world registered to cover this event, which had over 80 thousand participants, 2000 activities listed, as well as 200 cultural activities.
The combined work of many of these media sources allowed community radios to transmit live from Caracas via the internet. Various organisations sent their daily press releases electronically, thus reaching social organisations from all over the region. Newspapers and bulletins were also disseminated among the thousands of participants and can be downloaded from the websites. A genuine communications’ operative took place, so that all the interested people could follow the debates and activities carried out at this new forum on a day-to-day basis. This further nurtured the hope of another world being possible.
Source: Dispatches and information from the WSF-Caracas