THE LIFE OF IARU REGION 2

The purpose of this presentation is to highlight important developments, as well some of general interest in the life of the International Amateur Radio Union, Region 2, from its birth in Mexico City on 16 April 1964. A total of 15 countries attended to what was then called the First Panamerican Radio Amateur Congress. Taking into account that the worldwide IARU Constitution allowed the formation of regional organizations, the meeting gave birth to IARU Region 2 such as we know it today. To the position as its first President, Antonio (“Tony”) Pita, XE1CCP, SK was named and as Secretary, Gustavo Reusens, OA4AV, SK, who held that difficult position uninterruptedly until 1980 when he became President in the following period. Furthermore, participants at that meeting established the first IARU Bylaws, deciding that an Executive Committee be named for nominal periods of three years by General Assemblies of Debates of its Member Societies.

To place ourselves in those times at the beginning, that was when the subject of SSB versus AM was being debated and commercial communications where done by mail, telegrams and than by the novel use of telexes. There were no photocopiers or computers for general use. However communications among radio amateurs were done on HF bands, including for the coordination of future meetings. This tradition has been maintained to the point that the present Executive Committee also meets on the air every week on the 20 meter band.

It should be noted that the Region 2 founding members included Noel Eaton, VE3CJ, SK who for two periods served as the organization’s treasurer until when he was named as IARU President worldwide. Nowadays we continue to remember Noel sadly, our IARU President Emeritus, as well as other founding members, directors of member societies, the organization’s directors and coordinators who are no long among us.

The Second IARU Region 2 Conference was held in Caracas in 1967 and already by then, telecommunication and other high level authorities were expressing their support by making themselves present at protocolar acts. At that meeting the first steps wee taken to define “areas” in the Americas to assure a proportional geographical representation on the Executive Committee with one members in each area. At the same time the first steps were taken to allow the issuance of reciprocal licenses so that visiting amateurs could operate temporarily in signatory countries. That existed until then only between the U.S.A. and Canada while in the Latin-American and Caribbean countries there was much governmental resistance. Thanks to enthusiast support by a colleague, no less than the wife of the U.S. Ambassador, Venezuela modified its communication law and signed one of the first reciprocal agreements with the United States. Thereafter the Executive Committee continued to work hard on the subject which culminated in the adoption of the so called Lima Convention of the Organization of American States in 1987 that facilitated further bilateral agreements.

Then followed several very active growth periods of the organization. With the approach of the World Administrative Radio Conference in 1979 (“WARC-79″), the Region supported with all its resources the effort led by VE3CJ from the American Radio Relay League (“ARRL”) so that all administrations in the Region would support the worldwide radio amateur aspirations. For that the Executive Committee initiated a cycle of visits to all administrations in the Region seeking their support at WARC-79. This plan was completed in about ninety percent. Among others there was a case where a visit was made to a country with only 8 radio amateurs where a meeting with 10 government officials resulted in their active participation in WARC-79 that was of great help.

The Regional Committee designated its own observe team to WARC-79 which was integrated into the IARU world observer team during the 11 weeks of deliberations at this memorable Conference that gave us among others three new HF bands.

As soon as WARC-79 ended, Noel, VE3CJ proposed that an IARU worldwide restructuring be implemented. Region 2 responded positively and worked intensely at the regional societies level and also at Regions 1 and 3 conferences and their executive council and directors meetings. Recognizing that it would be very difficult to get 2/3 of votes worldwide to approve at once a new IARU Constitution, a proposal was made to create at first an IARU Administrative Council (“AC”) with participation by regional representatives. This became the way how this restructured organization came to life and in 1983 the AC met for the first time in the city of Tokyo. A draft for a new world constitution was agreed on there which was then approved by the unanimous vote of Region 2 societies.

Among the many things that may be mentioned about the development of IARU Region 2 is that it also has among its members societies representing non-independent territories. Hence, when we refer formally to Region 2 Society we speak about “countries and territories in the Americas”.

Region 2 is supported economically by dues from its member societies. The quotas are established according to the number of licensed amateurs in each country or territory with a minimum fee in case of geographically very small countries or territories. The present structure was adopted at the Buenos Aires Conference in 1986.

At the regional level, so called “area meetings” were established as well. Those are meetings limited to participants in every area during the time between two triennial assemblies of the organization. An executive Committee of nine members was established at the 1980 IARU Region 2 Conference in Lima.

Even before implementation of all the decisions from WARC-79, the Regional Executive Committee already began to work in a similar fashion in preparation of and participation at the forthcoming world conferences, the WARC-92, WRC-95, WRC-97, WRC-2000 as well as WRC-03 and preparatory work for WRC-07 has begun already.

In general Region 2 is not constituted as an organization promoting operating activities but does have a Regional Emergency Coordinator (“EMCOR”). His mission consists of coordinating, as the name indicates, Member Societies activities related to emergency communications in cases of natural disasters which regretfully are rather common in the Americas. On the other hand, Regional Triennial Assemblies serve as a platform for presentation of technical subject matters, be it satellites, UHF or other new radio-communication techniques based on which administrative decisions are then made. Among other, Region2 issues band plans and promotes amateur band monitoring as well as the radio beacon program in cooperation with the Northern California DX Foundation.

One of the most outstanding accomplishments by organized amateur radio in the Americas has been the unanimous adoption of the International Radio Amateur Permit (“IARP”) by the Organization of American States General Assembly in 1995. OAS Member Countries must ratify it and the Executive Committee backs its regional member societies to achieve that more Administrations put it in practice.

A review of the life of IARU Region 2 would not be complete without citing the General Assemblies that have been held until now, namely:
I Mexico, 1964
II Venezuela, 1967
III Jamaica, 1970
IV Chile, 1973
V U.S.A., 1976
VI Panama, 1978
VII Peru, 1980
VIII Colombia, 1983
IX Argentina, 1986
X U.S.A., 1989
XI Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles, 1992
XII Canada, 1995
XIII Venezuela, 1998
XIV Guatemala, 2001
XV Trinidad & Tobago, 2004

Furthermore the Executive Committee has been meeting at different venues at least two times within each period and occasionally it has been invited to support one or various societies to resolve problem situations. It is worthwhile to mention that the Region 2 Executive Committee, except for one short period of less than two years, has never had any employees, taking care of all its duties thanks to voluntary work by its members. Use of professional assistance is limited to translators for the Triennial Assemblies.

IARU Region 2 considers itself being in a privileged position by having been accepted as a permanent observer to the Inter American Telecommunication Commission (“CITEL” according to the acronym in Spanish) – an OAS body to which all Administrations in the Americas belong. Delegates representing the Region 2 Executive Committee regularly take part at CITEL events at their conferences and assemblies. These lead to the adoption of common positions which are the brought to the ITU; hence the relations with CITEL are of great importance.

Since the nineteen eighties, Region 2 has been publishing a bilingual bulleting (because in this Region Spanish and English are its two official languages). After various interruptions the bulletin is now published electronically.

Significant developments and up to problems that nobody thought that they would become a problem, the IARU Region2 continues to be active on all aspects of amateur radio and amateur satellite radio services. To conclude this summary on the IARU path during these times, here is an anecdote from real life: DX operators wished that a standard QSL size be adopted as well as the method to write dates. As simple as the issue appeared to be, it nevertheless required a study by the Administrative Council because in each Region the custom is different. But nowadays we have a universal standard for our QSL cards.

This is then a picture of the ongoing history of this voluntary community – the International Amateur Radio Union, represented in the Americas by Region 2. The recognition which its member societies receive from their respective Administrations and that of the Region itself by CITEL can be taken as the primary IARU Region 2 objectives and accomplishments. For that purpose at the last Triennial Conference held in Trinidad the societies adopted a wide-ranging strategic plan that is to guide the organization throughout the upcoming years.

PEDRO SEIDEMANN – YV5BPG