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Stories from and

Venezuela's Oscar Entry Speaks an Indigenous Language

Lo que lleva el río (“Gone With the River”), from Cuban-Venezuelan filmmaker Mario Crespo Dauna, is a Venezuelan film shot almost entirely in Warao, the language spoken by the people indigenous to the Orinoco River Delta. The film is Venezuela's entry to the Academy Awards for Best Foreign-Language Film.

According to , who wrote in Remezcla:

The story follows an indigenous woman named Dauna who is marked by difference within her community. Torn between her love for Tarsicio or her desire to pursue studies outside of her village, Dauna’s decision to challenge the expectations of her traditional culture lead to suffering and, ultimately, reconciliation.”

The film was selected as part of the Berlin Film Festival’s groundbreaking NATIVe showcase, earlier this year. Here is the trailer:

Unlivable Conditions in Macedonian Student Dorms Worsen

The Student Plenum, a grassroots movement fighting for the rights of university students in Macedonia, published new photos of the unlivable conditions that students in Macedonia's capital of Skopje live in. The movement has steadily been following the situation in the state-owned student dorms and has called on the state several times to improve basic hygiene and safety conditions in the student living quarters. Student Plenum recently informed the public that the living conditions and structural safety of at least one of the largest student dormitories in Skopje has worsened since and has reminded that the government promised to fully reconstruct the dorms more than a year ago, after being shamed in international media.

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In the accompanying text, Student Plenum indirectly address the new institution of special public prosecutor, which is supposed to handle corruption cases that the regular public prosecutor in Macedonia actively ignores.

Домовите се распаѓаат исто како и системот во државата, но ние сè уште немаме добиено нов специјален студентски дом за да се спасат студентите живи од бедата во која живеат и која се руши околу нив.

Ова е блокот В во студентскиот дом “Гоце Делчев”, во кој пред некој ден како што може да се види на сликите се срушил дел од кровот во еден од ходниците.

Овојпат немало повредени. Дали и наредниот пат нашите колеги ќе бидат еднакво среќни или пак до тогаш ќе добијат нов (специјален) студентски дом?

Student dorms are falling apart just like the state system and we have not received a new special student dorm to save the students’ lives from the misery in which they live and which crumbles around them.

This is the Block V of the “Goce Delchev” student dorm. The ceiling fell in one of the hallways a few days ago.

This time no one was injured. Will our colleagues be so lucky the next time or by then will they get a new, (special) student dorm?

Predictions for an Opposition Party Win in Trinidad & Tobago's General Elections

By midnight Trinidad and Tobago time, the country should know which political party will form its next government. As predicted, it has been a tight race — out of just over a million eligible voters, the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has thus far tallied over 400,000 votes. Many seats have already been declared, but two critical marginal seats, St. Joseph and La Horquetta/Talparo, both in the east Trinidad, are still up for grabs.

As expected, the two Tobago constituencies have gone entirely to the opposition People's National Movement (PNM).

Should the PNM win the two marginal seats — and by all appearances, they are poised to claim victory for at least one of them, St. Joseph — they will have beat the incumbent by 23 seats to 18 — a slim majority, but a win nonetheless. Some media houses and pollsters have been taking the liberty of calling the election in favour of the PNM, even though final numbers have not yet come in:

The still-sitting prime minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, retained her seat by a definitive margin:

As things stand now, it looks as though her victory may remain limited to her personal triumph in the constituency of Siparia and the ‘safe seats’ that her party enjoys in east and central Trinidad.

Indonesian Court Orders Family of Former President Suharto to Return Embezzled Funds

Students in Karawang, Indonesia. Photo from Public Domain Images

Students in Karawang, Indonesia. Photo from Public Domain Images

Indonesia's Supreme Court has ruled that the foundation of the late President Suharto is guilty of embezzling state funds from 1976 to 1998. It ordered the family of Suharto to return 315 million US dollars to the state.

Suharto ruled Indonesia from 1967 to 1998. During his 31-year rule, he was accused of committing grave human rights violations and massive corruption. Several weeks of street riots and rallies forced Suharto to resign in 1998.

In 1976, Suharto ordered state-managed banks to set aside 2.5 percent of their profits in favor of Supersemar Foundation's scholarship program. But in 2010, the court found the foundation once chaired by Suharto guilty of misappropriating public funds. It also noted that only a tiny amount of the funds was actually distributed to students. Last month, the court issued its final ruling on the matter.

The ruling, which was made public only this month, is significant since it’s the first time that a local court has found Suharto guilty of corruption. Naturally, it got intense reactions from many Indonesians.

Kompasiana, Indonesia's leading citizen media platform, featured some commentaries about the issue. Vishnu Andang Jaya urged Suharto's family to respect the court's ruling and to immediately return the people's money. Fadli Zontor wrote that the foundation was a mysterious entity with many questionable dealings in the past. Indira Revi urged an audit of all ‘donations’ registered by state-owned enterprises, especially during the time of Suharto.

But Hatta Celebes testified that the scholarship program was real:

I am proud to have received a scholarship from this foundation and this foundation had a positive role that many in this country are now ignoring.

Masinton Pasaribu, one of the student activists who joined the anti-Suharto rallies in 1998, urged the government to quickly implement the court's decision.

Meanwhile, Suharto's youngest son, Tommy Suharto, is challenging the decision of the Supreme Court via Twitter:

No retreat in fighting for the truth. Tonight I initiated an appeal to protect the dignity of sons and daughters of the best graduates of (Supersemar Scholarship)!

The ‘Escopetarra': A Killer Instrument

If you believe that nothing good can come from a rifle, then you have to get to know the “escopetarra”—a hybrid that transforms two “lethal” weapons (an AK-47 and a guitar) into an instrument of peace. “Escopetarra” is a Spanish blend that combines the words “escopeta” (shotgun) and “guitarra” (guitar).

In his Spanish-language podcast, Colombian musician César López talks about how he created the instrument, tracing it from the moment of its conception to all of the technical issues he faced creating it, as well as its characteristic sound.

There are more AK-47s in the world than any other gun, thanks to how unusually cheap the weapon is to make. It is estimated that there are 35-to-50 million AK-47s in existence, not counting those that are manufactured illegally each year.

“Primero, el AK 47 es el arma que más muertos le ha causado al planeta Tierra en toda su historia. Es el arma que se ha usado en Sudáfrica, Medio Oriente, Centro América, en Colombia”, dijo López en entrevista con la cadena estadounidense Univision.

“First of all, the AK-47 has caused the most deaths by any weapon on the planet. It's been used in South Africa, the Middle East, Central America, and also in Colombia”, stated López in an interview with the American television network, Univision.

The first “escopetarra” was made in 2003 using a Winchester rifle and a Stratocaster electric guitar. The rifle is taken apart in a way that it is no longer considered a weapon and cannot be used as such.

Currently, about 20 “escopetarras” have been presented to prominent musicians and international leaders who stand for peace, including the Colombian band, Aterciopelados, Argentinean musician Fito Páez, and UNESCO.

Serbian Intelligence Agency Caught Inquiring to Purchase Surveillance Software

Screenshot of one of many emails from Hacking Team account manager to unknown official Serbian State Intelligence Agency email from 2012. Image courtesy of SHARE Defense, used with permission.

Screenshot of one of many emails from Hacking Team account manager to unknown official Serbian State Intelligence Agency email from 2012. Image courtesy of SHARE Defense, used with permission.

Serbian NGO SHARE Defense reported in July 2015 that leaked emails and files belonging to Milan-based software company Hacking Team (HT) published on  Wikileaks reveal that at least one Serbian security service inquired about and negotiated the purchase of surveillance software from this company in 2012. There is also evidence that one or more email accounts from the Serbian Ministry of Defense appear as trial users of the spy software made by the Italian company.

The software in question is the so-called Remote Control System, or RCS, ans essentially works by targeting the spreading of viruses on computers and mobile phones of persons under surveillance. According to SHARE Defense sources, most clients using this software are governments from around the world and their security services.

SHARE Defense's legal team also called attention to which organizations might be able to gain permission and afford the use of such software:

Share Foundation wrote about the legal framework for import of this kind of software in Serbia back in 2013 because of the “Trovicor” case, stating that rules for dual use goods must be applied and that a permit from the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications is obligatory.[…]

If we assume that certain organisations can be authorized to use this equipment, in our legal system that wouldn’t be possible without a court decision in accordance with the law. Using it in any other way would be an obvious violation of human rights which are guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia and numerous international conventions.

‘Films for Action’ Website Shares List of Top 100 Documentaries ‘We Can Use to Change the World’

After years of promotion and reviews of documentaries devoted to social change, the site Films for Action released a list of what they consider to be the 100 most influencial and provocative. From critiques to manistream media to the corporate world, passing through the ideas and solutions proposed in and by the majority world, this list of films present a wide view of ideas that many consider crucial to discuss.

The list includes documentaries like The Economics of Happiness (2011), which will be available for free in August, and The Crisis of Civilization (2011), based on the Book by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed.

Documentaries have an incredible power to raise awareness and create transformative changes in consciousness both at the personal and global levels […] All of the films have been selected because they are either free to watch online, or can be rented online. There are several films we would have loved to add to this list, but they currently don't have an accessible way to view them. As that changes, we'll be updating this list over time. Enjoy!

Watch This Giant Rainbow Mural Transform a Low-Income Mexican Neighborhood

A low-income neighborhood in Mexico was transformed in a giant rainbow by the collective Germen Crew—a youth organization of muralists and street artists formed by 15 graffiti artists, under the direction of Mibe (Luis Enrique Gómez Guzmán), who's teamed with Mexican Government.

The more than 200 homes of the village of Palmitas, in the city of Pachuca (Hidalgo State), are now connected through colors.

Another example of the collective's “urban neomuralism” is Mexico City's famous Jamaica Market, which comprises over 1,000 stands dedicated to the sale of flowers, floral arrangements, ornamental plants, and garden accessories. Last year, the crew created a mural that visualizes a symbolic ritual beginning with “Mother Earth” (Tonantzin) giving birth to a life-form that transforms into flowers on the south façade of the famous flower market.

‘Stereotypes Are Another Unregulated Way to Commit Violence Against Nicaraguan Women’

In an opinion piece published in alternative magazine ConexionesKatya Najlis explores the ideas that lead to women being harassed on the street in Nicaragua. The essay presents multiple examples and reflections linking the majority of theories defending the right of Latin American women to move about freely without concern for safety to the social conventions that perpetuate gender inequality:

Los estereotipos hacia la mujer nicaragüense se convierten en otro método de violencia que nadie regula. El machismo asume el cuerpo de la mujer como un objeto público. El uso de imágenes sexistas contribuye a esta realidad, violentándola de forma implícita y posicionándola como un objeto. […] Lamentablemente, algunas mujeres hemos llegado a pensar que es “normal” o que “por nuestra culpa” somos víctimas de este tipo de abuso, y es que los acosadores aprovechan las unidades de transporte –sobre todo las rutas–, para ofendernos sexualmente.

Stereotypes have become another way to commit violence against Nicaraguan women that nobody regulates. Macho sexism assumes that women's bodies are public objects. The use of sexist images contributes to this reality, violating a woman implicitly and positioning her as an object. […] Sadly, some of us women have been led to think this is “normal” or that “it's our fault” we are victims of this type of abuse, and it's because our aggressors use public transport — and especially the streets — to offend us sexually.

Pope Francis in Latin America: ‘Ideologies End Badly, They Serve No Purpose’

Pope Francis concluded his eight day tour of South America, where he held mass in the three countries he visited: Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. The pontiff's message centered on peace and the most needy.

He also advocated “playing cleanly and staying clear of corruption.”

But it was during the close of the tour in Asuncion on Saturday, July 11 where he gave one of the most political speeches of his trip stating:

Ideologies end badly; they serve no purpose. Ideologies have a relationship to the people that is absent, unhealthy or evil. Ideologies don't take into account the people. In the last century ideologies have ended in dictatorships. [Ideologies] think of the people, but don't let the people think.

Moroccan Royal Motorcade Runs Down By-Stander

Moroccans are sharing links for a video showing a car which is part of a royal motorcade ferrying Moroccan King Mohammed VI running over a man in Tangiers during the visit of French President Francois Hollande.

Samia Errazzouki tweets:

Hollande was in Morocco for a two-day visit and was met by Moroccan King Mohammed VI on Saturday. The video shows a vehicle in a motorcade with its doors open run over a by-stander moments after the King and his guest passed. The waving cheering crowds then start screaming.

The video was uploaded by on YouTube and has been viewed more than 31,000 times so far.

It is not clear what happened to the passer by.

Minority Women Communicators Conference Looks To ‘Occupy the Media and Internet’ in Mexico

The official announcement has been made for the Second Conference of Women Communicators of Indigenous and African Descent. The conference, whose slogan is “We occupy the media, we occupy the internet”, will take place October 6-10, 2015, at the Centro de las Artes CASA (CASA Arts Center) in San Agustín Elta, Oaxaca, Mexico.

According to the announcement, the conference “looks to foster an exchange of experiences in order to reflect on the challenges and difficulties of the work of women communicators, to delve into topics such as gender and inter-culturalism in the media; community media and legislation; political participation and the empowerment of women, and the use of TIC (Information and Communication Technologies) for communication strategies”:

Mujeres que participan en proyectos comunicación, procedentes de comunidades indígenas y afrodescendientes de México y Centroamérica, se reunirán para potenciar el uso de herramientas digitales y transformar la información en acción; generando estrategias de comunicación al servicio de sus proyectos…

Women who participate in communication projects, are of African descent or come from indigenous communities in Mexico and Central America, will gather to improve on the use of digital tools and to put the information into action by generating communication strategies to use in their projects…

The requirements for participation are:
  • Comprometerse a participar durante los 5 días del Encuentro.
  • Trabajar o colaborar en la actualidad y de manera continua en proyectos de comunicación (radio, fotografía, video documental, etc).
  • Pertenecer a alguna comunidad / pueblo indígena o afrodescendiente de México o Centroamérica.

• Commit to participating during the five days of the conference.
• Currently and continuously work or collaborate on communication projects (radio, photography, documentary video, etc.).
• Must be of African descent or come from an indigenous community in Mexico or Central America.

To apply, please fill out the online form available here.

How Do You Say ‘Bro’ in Latin America?

The Bromap: How do you say “bro” in Latin America?

The Facebook page for Pictoline, a highly visual site for news and information, shared this map with the different ways people in Latin American countries say “bro”, short for brother in English. While in Mexico they use wey and pata in Peru, it's pana in Venezuela and parce in Colombia.

Search Coordinator for Ayotzinapa Students Assasinated

Miguel Ángel Jiménez Blanco, coordinator of the search for the 43 Ayotzinapa teachers’ college students, was assasinated in Mexico.

Miguel Ángel Jiménez Blanco, 45, was found dead last weekend in a taxi he owned with a gunshot to the head.

In response to authorities’ lack of action against organized crime, he founded a self-defense group in 2013 in the Mexican state of Guerrero. A year later, the group formed a commission to launch the search for the 43 students of the rural teachers’ college in the community of Ayotzinapa who disappeared on September 26, 2014.

The BBC interviewed him about the search:

The activist never found the students, but thanks to his efforts, the search discovered 129 bodies which have been turned over to the authorities for identification.

HRW Research Finds Media Freedom in Western Balkans Under Serious Threat

After almost a year of research in the region and in-depth interviews with over 80 journalists, editors, and independent media owners, Human Rights Watch released a report in July 2015 stating that media freedom in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia are under threat.

The report's findings include impunity and lack of action by authorities for threats, beatings, and even murders of journalists and media workers in these countries, citing that political interference and financial pressure through heavy fines and vague laws are often imposed on independent media in these countries.

In several cases journalists said they have continued to experience physical violence and abuse after their initial attack, again, often with impunity for their assailants. Journalists reporting on war crimes or radical religious groups in BiH, Kosovo and Serbia said authorities downplayed the seriousness of online threats they had experienced.[…]

Inefficiency and severe backlogs in the four justice systems impede timely adjudication of legal cases. Cases tend to drag on for years, creating an environment that can be used to the advantage of those who seek to stifle critical reporting through criminal acts of intimidation.

Human Rights Watch's key recommendations to authorities and governments in the four countries in question following this report include public and unequivocal condemnation of all attacks against journalists and media outlets and assurance of swift and thorough investigations into all such incidents, as well as prompt and impartial investigations into all attacks and threats against journalists and media outlets, including cybercrimes. The international human rights watch dog has also recommended that the European Union, to which all four of these countries are currently aspiring, the OSCE and the Council of Europe pay closer attention and take additional steps to urge relevant authorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia to react appropriately to media threats and ensure a safe environment for journalists to work in.

Zambian Businessman’s Lawyers Petition GoDaddy To Pull Down News Site

Zambian citizen media website Zambia Reports is facing legal threats from a local businessman, Rajan Mahtani, is petitioning GoDaddy, the website’s hosting company, to kick Zambia Reports off of its servers.

According to the Zambian Watchdog, a rival website, Zambia Reports has been accused of publishing defamatory articles on Dr. Mahtani, who is the founder of one Zambia’s biggest indigenous banks, Finance Bank and a chain of other businesses.

A letter said to have been written by Rajan Mahtani's US-based lawyers to GoDaddy.

A letter said to have been written by Rajan Mahtani's US-based lawyers to GoDaddy. Used with permission of Zambian Watchdog.

The US lawyers have that GoDaddy cease and desist from hosting Zambia Reports and remove its contents from GoDaddy’s servers.

Public Prosecutor's Office in Colombia to Monitor Twitter Accounts of Public Servants During Elections

Are you aware of any irregularities which might jeopardize the transparency or security of Elections 2015? Tell us here:

On October 25, Colombians head to the polls to elect governors, departmental assemblies, mayoral offices, municipal and district councils as well as administrative boards throughout the country. Since the electoral campaign began on July 25, public officials have been banned from using social media to support candidates.

Ante la proximidad de la jornada democrática en la que los colombianos elegirán gobernaciones, asambleas departamentales, alcaldías, concejos municipales y distritales y juntas administradoras locales, la Procuraduría General de la Nación insta a los colombianos a poner en conocimiento de las autoridades competentes las posibles irregularidades que puedan afectar la transparencia y seguridad de las elecciones.

As election day draws closer, a time when Colombians will democratically elect all governing bodies throughout the country, the Office of the Inspector General urges citizens to alert the relevant authorities of any irregularities which might affect the transparency and security of the electoral process.

According to the magazine Semana, the Inspector General's office will closely monitor the Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts of public servants in order to avoid any kind of political suasion. Likewise, they encouraged Colombians to make any reports of irregularities through social media or other means of communication.

Scroll Through Madagascar History Via Vintage Photographs

Online Photo Museum of Madagascar with their Permission

Online Photo Museum of Madagascar with their Permission

Access to the visual history of most former colonial countries in Africa is usually a challenging proposition because former colonial powers restrict access to historical archives. Helihanta RAJAONARISON and Tsiry Fy-Tia SOLOFOMIHANTA in Madagascar sought to solve this issue and make the history of Madagascar more palatable to the general public by creating an online Museum of Madagascar through a collection of vintage photographs.

The website went live on July 27, 2015, and offers a glimpse of everyday lives in Madagascar from 1850 to 1960. The collections is organized in four major periods: Pre-colonial Period, Colonial Period, Major Constructions, Everyday Life and Independence.

Global Voices Checkdesk Training Workshop to be held in Beirut on July 29

Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 3.21.50 PMInvestigative journalists and people interested in social media in Lebanon are in for a treat at the end of this month.

Global Voices Online and Meedan are teaming up to present a workshop on ‘Fact-checking for the Web’ at AltCity, Hamra, Beirut, on July 29.

The hands-on training will take place from 2pm to 6pm and covers topics related to the emergence and development of citizen journalism in the MENA region, reporting for the Web and online media verification.

Launched in March 2015, Global Voices Checkdesk is powered by the globally minded team at Meedan; working from San Francisco, Cairo, Vancouver, London and Beirut. It is a multi-year project combining research and open curriculum development with our University partner Birmingham City University, open curriculum development and training with a set of community media initiatives, and content creation through a growing network of regional media partners.

GV Checkdesk is run by Global Voices Lebanese author Joey Ayoub and Global Voices Bahrain author Faten Bushehri, who, along with a team of volunteers, have been tracking citizen media reports on breaking news across the Middle East and North Africa region. The goal is to collect witness accounts and other reports under one platform, and then verify the news, before it is used as part of our coverage at Global Voices Online. To join our GV Checkdesk team, please sign up here.

To find out how Checkdesk works, sign up here for the workshop. Hurry up as seating is limited.

Global Voices Partners with Sin Embargo México

Global Voices Latin America recently join forces with Mexican news site Sin embargo.

Global Voices Latin America recently join forces with Mexican news site Sin embargo.

Global Voices Latin America and Mexican news site Sin Embargo recently agreed to join forces to spread original stories form Mexico and Latin America to a global audience.

Sin Embargo is a Spanish language news site based in Mexico that produces original journalism and investigative stories. The site was founded in 2011, under the slogan “rigorous journalism”, and is among Mexico's top news sites. Every month the site averages 4.6 million unique users and 10 million page views.

While many digital news operations aggregate content from other sites, founder and publisher Jorge Zepeda Patterson believes that “the only possibility for generating significant traffic is by creating your own content.”

Starting July, Global Voices will translate and publish stories from Sin Embargo on its Spanish and English language sites. Some stories may get translated into up to 30 languages through our Lingua translation project. This is the first story Global Voices published as part of the cooperation: Mexico Was Hacking Team's No. 1 Client for Spyware.

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