Brazil. Radio Monte Roraima – Freedom of Speech gets “high ratings”

Rádio Monte Roraima aims to inform listeners according to quality, impartiality and ethical standards, focusing on the least fortunate, human rights and the environment.
The day light is so bright, perhaps because  the sky is clear or because the country lies on the equator. The Radio Monte Roraima premises are located  just a few steps away from Rio Branco and beside the Mother Church in Boa Vista, the capital of the Brazilian State of Roraima. The logo and the name of the radio are drawn in pastel colours on a boundary wall outside the building. Inside, at the entrance, which is bright and simply furnished, there are two placards about the radio hanging on the blue walls. One placard says : 

“ Radio Monte Roraima intends to be a reference point for quality communication in the State of Roraima. It aims to contribute to social transformation through  interactive programming. This broadcaster focuses on issues related to social justice, environment, human rights and the Catholic faith. The radio priorities are: making the least fortunates’ voices heard, providing and disseminating information, education and entertainment  according to quality, impartiality and ethical standards, and contributing to the social, cultural, artistic and religious progress of society”.
The origins
Starting up Rádio Monte Roraima was neither fast, nor easy. Msgr. Mongiano,  Bishop of Roraima from 1975 to 1996, was the first to talk about the importance of an alternative information source through a means of mass communication. “Over my last years in Roraima – said Msgr. Mongiano – I realised  that a radio broadcaster would provide the diocese, with alternative information. The local media were totally in the hands of the political elite. I was nominated to set up a cultural and educational foundation, which would be in charge of the radio, in order not to expose the diocese and the bishop to the attacks of the listeners”.

 The “Giuseppe Allamano Cultural & Educational Foundation,” was set up in February 1991. Starting a radio station was among the projects of the Foundation, but Radio Monte Roraima Fm 107 became a reality only twelve years later, on 29 December 2002.
Now, Monte Roraima is a well-established radio broadcaster, with an audience share on the rise. The radio is run by a young journalist Janaina Souza who greets us with a smile and says, “News, education and entertainment are the three major pillars of Radio Monte Roraima programming. The news is our strong point: the radio station broadcasts two daily news programs – Jornal da manhã and Jornal da tarde – produced by a small team of journalists. In addition, the radio broadcasts a national news bulletin  (Jornal Brasil hoje) in connection with Rádio Aparecida, a broadcaster of St. Paul that produces the news bulletin for Rede Católica de Rádio, a network of Catholic radio stations in Brazil. “Besides news – continues Janaina – the radio also broadcasts educational, cultural and entertainment programs. Monte Roraima is the only radio in the country that has a program for children, Cantinho criança (Kids’ Corner), which is broadcast on Saturdays. The “A voz dos povos indígenas” (The voice of indigenous peoples) program, dedicated to  natives, is broadcast on Mondays. Monsignor Roque Paloschi, Bishop of Roraima, presents a 5 minute program Palavra de vida (Word of Life), every morning from Monday to Friday”.
The Bem Querer dam
Disputes over  the construction of a hydroelectric plant on the waters of the Branco river have been dragging on for a long time now in Roraima. The dam is called Bem Querer, which translated into English means Affection, a name that sounds ironic, considering the strong opposition the project has generated  among the local population. The dam is part of the Growth Acceleration Program (PAC 2), (Plano de Aceleração do Crescimento), and is supposed to be built near Caracaraí, 125 kilometres from Boa Vista, near the rapids (Corredeiras do Bem Querer), declared an archaeological site by the Institute of Historical and Artistic National Heritage (IPHAN).The construction of the plant is believed to have a potential serious impact on population, environment and climate. Protection of the environment is among the priority issues at Radio Monte Roraima.
“Rio Branco –  the  radio director says – is our river, we live around its waters. The dam project is a serious threat to people and the environment. This why many are joining us in the attempt to halt the project, such as the Puraké movement”. 

The Radio Roraima director criticizes harshly the way the project has been managed. “Everything was decided in secret, without  involving  the people who are likely to be directly affected by the construction of the dam. We demand transparency”.
Radio Monte Roraima is on the front line denouncing irregularities and abuses. “Our task is to give voice to those who would be the most affected by the construction of the dam: the fishermen and the indigenous people”. More than once, Rádio Mount Roraima has had problems with political authorities. “Yes, we have had some problems, it is not easy to be an independent radio. However listeners are on our side and are rewarding us, in fact the audience share is on the rise”. Freedom of speech is not always easy for Rádio Monte Roraima, but it gets “high ratings”. (P.M.)