Rebel Radio: The Story of El Salvador's Radio Venceremos

By José Ignacio López Vigil; Mark Fried | Go to book overview

Section I
The General Offensive

Enter the Viking

Jonás 1 turned up at my house in Mexico.

"We've got to have a radio station," he said. "We'll bust our balls to get it."

In El Salvador at that time, at the end of the seventies, things had turned black as ants. The repression was brutal. Print media was no longer effective. If you had a leaflet in your bag, it could cost you your life. Was it worth risking the lives of those handing leaflets out, to say nothing of those accepting them? Maybe that's why the idea of a radio station took root -- they can't frisk you for a voice.

There was no place for us in the media. The left-wing papers had been closed down. La Crónica del Pueblo and El Independiente had both been bombed. They had begun to dynamite Monsignor Romero's 2 radio station. Journalists were being threatened, murdered, gagged, no one could tell anyone about anything. Our brief takeovers of radio stations were something, but not much.

"We need technical support," Jonás insisted.

I had a few contacts at the University of Guadalajara. That's where we found Toño, an electrical engineer, a dreamer, one of those people who never makes any money because he spends his life looking for meaning in what he does.

Toño worked in a cockroach-infested hole behind an auditorium. There he had all sorts of old equipment: half-built television sets, stripped- down tape recorders, a shitload of tangled wires and, presiding over the disorder, his desk.

"We need a radio station in El Salvador," Jonás told him. "An AM station that can be heard right in the capital city. That's our idea."

Toño fell in love with the project. Before we'd even finished telling him about it, he was looking for a map of El Salvador to study the mountains, calculate distances, heights, valleys, the topography of our little country. The first task we faced wasn't so much learning the ropes as getting hold of equipment. There were legal complications. You can't simply buy a radio transmitter just like that. You need a permit, a licence, a lot of stuff. And since we figured they would try to jam it, Toño suggested we try a short- wave communications radio, which he would try to adapt for AM broadcasting by crystallising the end of the band...

"Whatever, but let's do it now," Jonás interrupted.

-3-

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Rebel Radio: The Story of El Salvador's Radio Venceremos
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Cast of Characters viii
  • Introduction 1
  • Section I the General Offensive 3
  • Footnotes 30
  • Section II Building the Rearguard 31
  • Footnotes 82
  • Section III the Great Battles 83
  • Footnotes 136
  • Section IV Back to Basics 137
  • Footnotes 188
  • Section V on to the Cities 189
  • Footnotes 235
  • Epilogue: When the Fighting Stops 237
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