Ecuador: The President Pushes Free Software

The use of YouTube to disseminate messages has now reached the presidential palace in Ecuador. Last month, President Rafael Correa spoke about the use of free software and its benefits for his country. The video was featured on the channel used exclusively for videos coming from the Communications General Secretary of the Presidency of Ecuador.

Transcript of address:

Queridos amigos. Les saluda Rafael Correa, presidente de la República del Ecuador. Ustedes saben que es la hora de la integración de América Latina en todos los aspectos, entre ellos el aspecto tecnológico y el uso de tecnologías informáticas.

Por eso es necesario que todos adoptemos, tanto a nivel público cuanto a nivel privado, el software libre. De esa manera garantizaremos la soberanía de nuestros estados, dependeremos de nuestras propias fuerzas, no de fuerzas externas a la región. Seremos productores de tecnología, no simples consumidores. Seremos dueños de los códigos fuentes y podemos desarrollar muchos productos que, incluso, con una adecuada articulación de nuestros esfuerzos, puede ser de suma utilidad para las empresas públicas y privadas de la región.

Por eso, todos a utilizar software libre. El Gobierno ecuatoriano ya lo estableció como una política de Gobierno y de Estado. Esto será un importante paso para la integración y, por qué no decirlo, para la liberación de América Latina.

Dear friends, the President of the Republic of Ecuador sends you greetings. This is the hour for the integration of Latin America in all of its aspects, including in technology and the use of information technologies.

For that reason, it is necessary that we all adopt, on a public and private level, the use of free software. In that manner, we will guarantee the sovereignty of our states. We will depend on our own efforts, and not on the external forces on the region. We will be producers of technology, and not simple consumers. We will be the owners of the source codes, and we can develop many products that can, with cooperation of this effort, can be very useful to public and private companies in the region.

For that, everyone must use free software. The Ecuadoran government has already established this as a governmental and state policy. This will be an important step in the integration and, why not say, for the liberation of Latin America.

Naturally, many bloggers were quite impressed with the use of this technology. Ecuador's own Christian Espinoza, who writes a technology-focused blog called Cobertura Digital [ES] and was one of the first to draw attention to this phenomenon. In fact, his coverage of Correa's message drew some interest from the Video Blog Telúrica.

Additional applause came from Chilean bloggers, such as Fayer Wayer [ES] had this to say about the new videos.

También me parece que sí es la labor de un Presidente definir las políticas públicas, y anunciar que el Gobierno abandonará tecnologías propietarias y apoyará tecnologías abiertas, tal como lo ha hecho Noruega. El sector privado puede hacer lo que quiera, pero si el Gobierno apoya y utiliza software libre, está dando el ejemplo y certificando que la alternativa funciona.

Un gran paso para Ecuador, y esperemos que sigan avanzando, mejorando la integración de su población a las tecnologías de la información, ya que actualmente tienen uno de los precios más elevados de conexión a internet en América Latina.

I also think that this is the role of a president to define public policy, and announce that the government will no longer use licensed technologies and will support open technologies, such as what Norway has done. The private sector can do what it wants, but if the government supports and uses free software, then it is providing an example and assuring that the alternative really works.

It is a big step for Ecuador, and we hope that they continue to progress, improving and integrating information technologies for their population, since they currently have one of the highest prices in Latin America for internet connections.

Then, from Guatemala, the blog Dumitraqui [ES] wrote:

No discuto la posición política de el Presidente Corea si es buena o mala sencillamente no la conozco, pero me parece genial invitación que hace a pasarse al OpenSource, y usar las nuevas tecnologías a nuestro alcance. Es importante mencionar que El Presidente Corea posee su propio canal en YouTube para difundir vídeos de comunicados presidenciales. Es un buen ejemplo del uso de la tecnología. Haber que otro presidente sigue los pasos o copia la idea. ¿será GBush, LdaSilva, FCalderon, UChavez OBerger?

I am not going to discuss the political positions of President Correa, and whether they are good or bad, because simply I do not know. However, his invitation to use OpenSource software and the new technologies is great. It is important to note that President Correa has his own YouTube channel to distribute videos of his presidential messages. This is a great example of the use of technology. Let's see which other president follows his steps or copies the idea. Could it be (George) Bush, (Lula) daSilva, (Felipe) Calderon, (Hugo) Chavez or (Oscar) Berger?

And from neighboring Colombia, The Pirated Network [ES]:

En muchas otras cosas, no me gusta mucho la forma de Gobierno de Rafael Correa, pero esta iniciativa es de las mejores que he visto en un lider Latinoamericano, ¿¿¿Será que alguna vez en la vida algún lider Colombiano se le ocurrirá alguna idea como ésta???

In many other things, I do not like Rafael Correa's government, but this is one of the best things that I have ever seen from a Latin American leader. I wonder if a Colombian leader has ever thought of something like this.

One comment on the Fayer Wayer site, noted the following:

Notable el canal de youtube de la presidencia de Ecuador, sin embargo el sitio de la presidencia de ecuador es windows (notar el .asp)

The Ecuadoran president's YouTube channel is noteworthy, however, the Presidency's Website uses Windows (note the .asp).


  • I think it’s ironic that Correa paints a layer of nationalist rhetoric onto the benefits of open-source software when it’s the borderless development of the projects (Ubuntu starting in South Africa, or Drupal starting in Europe) which often give them an advantage to for-profit companies that struggle in localizing their software.

  • Great article, I can’t wait for Stephen Harper and the Bush to start rocking the Tubes.

    I think on some level the nationalistic impulse is justified in that using proprietary products is the complete opposite of software independence. Adopting FOSS on a national level in ANY country other than the US means that the work on that software will be done by local workers, installing and maintaining complicated GNU/Linux systems instead of paying license fees to Redmond/Cupertino (or not paying them and being shunned internationally as pirates). The fact that it’s cheaper to pay [insert nation here] wages for a sysadmin than to pay license fees means that you create new jobs while also creating better localized products. It’s more than just “this will be free, lets stop wasing money and grab what the world has created”, but also “We need to keep the work here, where it benefits us as a nation”. I agree though that it’s unfair to act as if Ecuador will be building software from the ground up, and recognizing that FOSS is an international (increasingly almost UN-ish) effort is important, especially in convincing all the other developping nations to sign on as well.

  • Dan O'Maley

    I think this proves that Correa is a very innovative President. Free software obviously is not something heads of state typically consider, nonetheless, in our electronic age it has a huge effect on societies around the world. It does liberate Ecuador from the trap of constantly buying Microsoft. No longer will they have to rely on expensive software from North America and Europe. Using free software is one step toward freedom in Latin America.

  • I must confess i don’t know Correa’s policies in another areas of his government, but i would like to cheer Mr. Correa’s initiative of using YouTube and such technologies to communicate his ideas (something obvious to most of us here, but that misteriously seem pretty non-obvious, even obscure, to most presidents and presidential cabinets…). I would like to cheer even more Mr. Correa for his positioning about FOSS. In that point, i agree with our peer Jeremy Clarke about the use and effect thereof of FOSS in a country economics and job market… AND technological self-sufficiency.

    As a sidenote, i would like to remember that Lula’s government in Brasil endorsed FOSS since the beginning of it’s first term, and in the last four or five years been struggling with the difficulties of it’s implementation. That’s pretty normal, i think. Migration from Licenced Software to FOSS in a large and complex organization like a country government is not an easy task.

    I would like to congratulate Mr. Correa for that move, if not for anything else (for i DON’T KNOW much more about him and his government), and would like to wish good luck for our president Lula in Brasil, and for Mr. Correa in Ecuador too. And what about the other countries in Latin America? Isn’t it about time for them to join us?

    Hugs from the Green Fairy.

  • […] When a GVO columnist mentioned Correa’s support for open source e-government recently, Sasaki was irked by the young Bolivarian’s failure to give props to the international nature of the open source movement: I think it’s ironic that Correa paints a layer of nationalist rhetoric onto the benefits of open-source software when it’s the borderless development of the projects (Ubuntu starting in South Africa, or Drupal starting in Europe) which often give them an advantage to for-profit companies that struggle in localizing their software. […]

  • James

    Before worrying about Opensource software developemnt, worry about the failed telecommunications of ecuador. Improve the Internet backbone, allow people into ecuador to develop technologies to increase speeds at affordable prices. This is how the US did it. Baby steps first, software is easily developed but not easily deployed. If there are too many chiefs and no indians then you will have tons of software that fail to intergrate with one another. Bill Gates is not the enemy just a buisnessman. It is not personal for him. Give the people the ability to make there own decisions, they are not stupid. They just need to see the choices not have them hidden from them. MICROSOFT rules

  • Pingback: Fabi

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