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Rebel Radio: The Story of El Salvador's Radio Venceremos by Jose Ignacio Lopez Vigil and translated by Mark Fried

1994; 240 pp. $19.95. Curbstone Press.

You'd better eat your Wheaties if you want to do clandestine radio. From a damp cave in the mountains of Moraz'n in El Salvador, the legendary FMLN Radio Venceremos ("We shall win") battled rats, army offensives, and broken hearts in order to broadcast its daily revolutionary program at 6 p.m. sharp for ten long years during the civil war . Rebel Radio is an oral history, told by the engineers, announcers, and technicians themselves, a motley crew of guerrilla journalists, engineers, and campesinos who kept Venceremos alive with their wit, ingenuity, and not a little brawn. The editing is rough?tales overlap and are confusingly attributed?but the book is nevertheless a captivating insiders' chronicle of radio's starring role in the revolution.

" Six o'clock. On air. The national anthem. Every one at his post. Ready? "This is Radio Venceremos, voice of the workers, peasants and guerillas!" Broadcasting live for an hour straight is really stressful. Not only because a bomb might drop on you, but because the responsibility weighs on your shoulders....You've got to choose every word with care, because you know the next day the Voice of America is going to reply. You have to make sure the tone is right for psychological warfare. You have to improvise knowing full well that the enemy is monitoring you and will take advantage of any slip-up, and above all, the compas are listening and if you show any lack of conviction it affects their combat morale."

Excerpt:

" ...two of our radio operators might go near Santa Rosa and allow the enemy to pick up a conversation suggesting that guerilla columns were advancing on that town. A few exploratory footprints, a few cigarette butts left on the ground....Simultaneously, Venceremos would jovially drop a little banana skin:

We're all happy because we'll have some big surprises in the next few days. As a matter of fact, greetings to all our friends in Santa Rosa...

They'd send troops down from San Francisco to Santa Rosa and kaboom! We'd let loose on San Francisco. We've used these boxing techniques plenty of times?fake here and punch there?it gives us a double advantage; the soldiers in Santa Rosa shit their pants, while the ones in the other bases relax thinking the fight won't be with them."

 

ISBN: 1880684217

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