This profile was prepared when Aleida Calleja Gutierrez was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
Aleida Calleja’s vision is straightforward: a thriving community-run open access radio network in Mexico that encourages citizen sector participation in the democratic process. Currently, Mexico’s media is almost exclusively corporate and government owned, leaving little room for public participation in the national discourse. Through a series of efforts, led by the formation of multiple community radio stations, Aleida plans to restructure Mexico’s media in a way that encourages and protects citizen participation and freedom of speech.The progress of democracy in Mexico is at stake. Without freedom of communication and access to information in local communities, democracy is but an abstract goal. Currently, Mexican citizens are far too removed from civic participation, and far too cynical about the democratic process itself. However, Aleida has found a concrete way to promote democracy. Beginning with the founding of community radio stations that celebrate and encourage Mexican diversity and dialogue, Aleida is working to transform the way citizens contribute to public policy in Mexico. She hopes that through her efforts, the Mexican people will gradually come to realize the power of their own voice, and the potential of communities of individuals determined to produce change.