Freedom of expression threatened in Peru? Radio Uno claims government has list of “bothersome” stations it plans to shut down

The Peruvian government has a hidden agenda designed to shut down “bothersome” radio stations because it considers them an obstacle to its political interests, said Tacna Radio Uno’s director, Fernando Rondines Días, a day after state employees broke through his station’s door with a crow bar.

“What occured yesterday is an attack that the MTC (Ministry of Transportation and Communications) tried to perpetrate against freedom of expression and provincial radio stations,” said Rondines.

On Wednesday, a group of MTC employees — who claimed Radio Uno’s license had expired — pried open the building’s doors with crow bars and tried to make their way into the broadcasting booth demanding that the radio journalists immediately put an end to their programming and shut the station down.

The intervention was aborted, however, by Tacna’s state prosecutor and 400 residents who spontaneously gathered to protest. Many political and social leaders also turned up to express their support for the station, locally respected for its work during Fujimori’s decade-long presidency that wrought dramatic economic changes but was marked by human rights violations.

Rondines charged that the government had pressured his station to cease criticism of Peru’s government and tow a friendlier editorial line.

“According to them, we belong to a group of radio stations that are destabilizing democracy,” said Rondines. “The government says that our license expired after ten years and that we didn’t ask for its renewal. But if you take a look at the MTC’s website, you will see that our license, according to our request, is being processed and that we have yet to receive an answer.”

“We defend the mining royalties for Tacna and many times we have said that it is a priority that (natural) gas arrive in our city,” said Rondines. “This is what the government doesn’t like. This is why they want to silence us, but we are only one (of the targeted stations) and we have a list of 17 stations that (the government) wants to shut down.”

Rondines argued that the government has made a list of “bothersome” radio stations it wants to silence because their programming deals with issues such as gas distribution, inflation and mining rights and royalties.

“This is very clear for us,” said Rondines. “Beyond the MTC’s intention to shut down Radio Uno there is the (broader) issue that the MTC wants to shut down radios nationwide and is doing it.”

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