Saturday, November 27, 2010

Omar Rodriguez

Tuesday afternoon, Omar Rodriguez died. I only met him once, but that encounter has never left me. As Felix said on La Resistencia last night, Omar Rodriguez lived radio. He literally did. He was the proprietor of Radio Gualcho in Tegucigalpa in the modest colonia of 21 de Octubre. His house was filled with old electronic stuff, and crammed away in the back was his cluttered office, tiny studio and homemade transmitter. He had perpetual problems with that transmitter, and on the day I was there in 2002, he was getting only about 10 minutes of programming before it would conk out, and he'd hafta go out and fiddle with it. But people listened, because Omar had a message and Omar had the courage to tell it like he saw it. He was a Socialist, a revolutionary, a writer, an editor, a songwriter, and of course a communicator. Omar wrote books and songs to address issues he was passionate about. He sold me a little book he edited, “No al ALCA” (We say NO to the Central America Free Trade Agreement), filled with arguments against Honduras's entrance into of the positions that got President Mel Zelaya ousted in last year's coup. This kind of thing him into trouble with the Golpistas, but he persevered when almost all other stations have caved in. He sometimes didn't have enough money to pay the power bill, but some friend would come through to keep Radio Gaulcho going. How could I not love a man like that? In recent years, he played “El Condor Pasa” a lot on Radio Gaulcho...It's fitting music to mark his passing, but it seems, like Joe Hill, his voice will carry on even stronger now.

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