Early this morning, thousands of Guatemalans tuned in to listen for the first time to “Despacho Presidencial” (Presidential Office), President Álvaro Colom’s new weekly radio show. It airs every Wednesday from 7:00 a.m. to 8: 00 a.m. on TGW, a state-owned radio station.
The program—whose slogan is “a space to listen and be listened to”—was developed as a way for Guatemalans to talk directly to the President, express their everyday concerns. According to Communication Secretary Ronaldo Robles, the show, which will have a different theme each week, is part of a government effort to develop the national information system.
Political analyst Gustavo Porras is among some that opposed the government and are skeptical about the show’s real intentions. Porras is worried that this could be a first step in limiting freedom of speech as it may open the door for the President to gain more control over the media. He is quick to point out that weekly broadcasts are used by other regional presidents accused of violating freedom of speech—a top concern for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, as Santiago Canton points out in his newly released Americas Quarterly article.