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Radio Victoria

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This chapter shows how Radio Victoria, a community radio station in El Salvador, used technologies to encourage citizen participation and action, despite digital inequalities. Analysis showed who participated and how they participated changed because of social media. Subjects did not see the digital divide as an insurmountable obstacle: their innovative ways of using digital technology to complement analog technology allowed them to find ways around the problem of lack of access. Despite digital inequalities, interviewees believed technology could be liberating, and they believed it was their responsibility to the community to teach and lead by example, and thus show how the radio’s use of social media could foster participation in technology and participation through technology.


  • Community Member
  • Social Medium
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Internet Access
  • Radio Station

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-48039-8_4
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  1. 1.

    Interviewees’ names were changed to protect their privacy.

  2. 2.

    According to a word frequency generated by NVivo.

  3. 3.

    Interviewees pointed out that community radio plays an important educational role, supplementing little, often inadequate, official schooling. A 2009 report from the Salvadoran government’s education ministry (MINED 2009) showed that residents of Cabañas aged 15 and older averaged just 4.4 years of formal education, two years less than the national average at the time. In Victoria, where Radio Victoria is located, the average was even lower: 3.7 years. Literacy in Cabañas was 71 percent, or 10.5 percentage points lower than the national average. Again, the average for Victoria was even lower, at 66 percent.

  4. 4.

    Cabañas was the site of at least seven military-led massacres that resulted in the deaths of at least 900 civilians during the early 1980s (De Dios and Morán 2012). During the Piedras Coloradas (Colored Stones) massacre on March 17, 1981, hundreds of residents of Santa Marta (where Radio Victoria began) and other nearby communities were killed fleeing air and artillery fire as they attempted to cross the Lempa River and escape into Honduras (Garrett 2012).

  5. 5.

    The Arab Spring and media accounts of it as a social media revolution were fresh on the minds of interviewees, as fieldwork occurred just a year after the protests in Egypt.

  6. 6.

    Top 100 word frequencies were generated by NVivo.

  7. 7.

    Fulano is a generic male name used to represent the idea of “so and so” or “any Tom, Dick or Harry.”

  8. 8.

    Popular as in “of the people,” not as in pop music.

  9. 9.

    The actual Spanish is informar, formar and transformar, worth noting for their common root, formar.


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Harlow, S. (2017). Radio Victoria. In: Liberation Technology in El Salvador. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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