BOLIVIA: Salesian-run Radio-Television Ichilo facility looted and destroyed
(MissionNewswire) The Salesian-run Radio-Television Ichilo, based in the municipality of Yapacaní in the Department of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, was attacked on Nov. 10 by a violent group linked to the government of former President Evo Morales.
The attack occurred in the early morning hours after the announcement of the president’s resignation. During the attack, radio facilities were looted, equipment was destroyed and the offices on the first floor were burned.
Radio Ichilo, as it’s known, has been operating for 38 years and is one of the most important radio stations in the region. It’s known for its social commitment and service to those living in conditions of poverty, along with working-class organizations. Since 1992, the radio station has also been broadcasting a television channel, which complemented the radio broadcast.
The radio station was founded by Salesian Father Aquilino Libralon, working in collaboration with six youth from the local parish. The radio station did a great deal of pastoral work in the community and was able to foster social connections and help immigrant families arriving in the region from other provinces in Bolivia.
The destruction of the Salesian radio and television station is a violent response in opposition to the Salesian community and how it provides information in the most truthful and objective way possible. It is an attack that goes directly against the indigenous communities of the region.
The General Councilor for Social Communication of the Salesians, Father Filiberto González, said in a statement: “We deeply regret this vandalism which destroyed Salesian Radio Ichilo. We reject all acts of violence that hinder dialogue and threaten social peace and the right to democracy. We express our solidarity to all of the Salesians and the staff of Radio Ichilo and to the network of Salesian radio stations in Bolivia, whose professional ethics are well known. They are authentic informants of truth and justice in the service of those who have no voice. Thank you for your testimony and your conviction as communicators in the service of peace and democracy.”
Salesian missionaries provide education and social programs across Bolivia that are tailored to meet the needs of poor youth and their families. From primary and secondary education to technical and vocational skills training, Salesian educational centers are ensuring youth are able to gain the skills needed to find and retain stable employment.
Bolivia is the poorest country in South America and has the most unequal income distribution on the continent. According to UNICEF, 60 percent of Bolivians live below the poverty line with 40 percent of those living in extreme poverty. The poverty rate is higher in rural areas where the rate increases to 75 percent of the population. It is common for Bolivians to struggle to find adequate nutrition, shelter and other basic necessities.
The geography of Bolivia contributes to the overwhelming poverty of its residents. Large swaths of the country remain undeveloped with a lack of roads and infrastructure in place, negatively impacting the indigenous farming populations who typically live there.
ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)
Salesian Missions – Bolivia
UNICEF – Bolivia