Global Voices – Latin America boasts a very dedicated team of volunteer authors, who have helped track their respective country's blogosphere over the course of 2007. Knowing the local context by the authors, many of whom are regular bloggers themselves have help make this region well-covered in the past year. For technical purposes, the region spans the 16 Spanish-speaking countries of North, Central and South America, and does not include the Portuguese-speaking country of Brazil. The country is ably covered by Brazilians Jose Murilo Junior and Paula Góes. Some coverage of the Caribbean countries that speak Spanish is shared with Caribbean editor Janine Mendes-Franco.
This year also witnessed the launch of the Spanish-language site of Global Voices as part of Project Lingua. Juan Arellano and his excellent and growing team of volunteer translators have helped make Global Voces en Español, one of the most active translation sites. Global Voices – Latin America also recently opened its own Facebook group in order to bring people interested in Latin American blogs, as well as to share recommendations on interesting blogs that should be included in future articles and links.
Here is the first in a three part set of articles looking back at some of the topics covered by bloggers in 2007:
Jorge Gobbi sought to find topics that took place out of the “Gran Capital” Buenos Aires, as topics such as these tend to receive less attention as others in the metropolitan capital. Stories about the effects of mining in the provinces and the role of blogs in conflict coverage in Neuquen are two examples of stories outside of Buenos Aires. Culture also plays an important role in Argentina, as the campaign to recognize the site of Mafalda, a famous cartoon character and the disruptive events at the music concert, Personal Fest also were covered.
In politics, the biggest story was the election of Cristina Kirchner, the wife of outgoing president Nestor Kirchner, in the rather apathetic election, as Gobbi wrote:
The recent elections in Argentina are over. Some say that these elections have probably been received with the most amount of apathy since the return to democracy in 1983. A couple of days before the elections, there was almost no sign of them in the streets, except a few posters. Most citizens did not take active part in the process, but that doesn't mean there were no repercussions afterwards.
Much of the coverage in Bolivia centered on the ongoing conflicts in the country, such as what happened in Cochabamba on January 11, which pitted different groups of citizens against one another. By far, the most well-known Bolivian is President Evo Morales. Two years after his world tour featuring the infamous “sweater”, bloggers were always willing to critique the head of state. They also were surprised at the Morales’ appearance on the Daily Show.
Regardless of political leaning or geography, Bolivian bloggers also rallied together behind a ban placed by FIFA.
Recently, the international football governing body, FIFA, announced that international matches will no longer be permitted to be played in stadiums above 2500 m, putting many stadiums in Bolivia off-limits, and dashing the hopes for qualifying once again for the world’s biggest sporting event. The decision mobilized the Bolivian government headed by President Evo Morales, a self-professed football fanatic, who sent a high-ranking delegation to Zurich, Switzerland to speak directly with FIFA President Sepp Blatter and declared it “Challenge Day“. Marches and demonstrations against the ban took place across the country. Bloggers also joined the united voice against this decision. The decision is drawing the ire of Bolivians across the country and cutting across ideological lines.
Rosario Lizana provided coverage of a wide range of issues including the problematic public transport system Transantiago and its accompanying student protests. A lot emphasis was also placed on environmental issues, such as oil spills, biofuels, and natural disasters.
Technological concerns also captured the attention of bloggers with the issue of broadband and net neturality. However, perhaps the most highly blogged about issue was the proposal, which many indicated was as good as an agreement between the Chilean government and the Microsoft Corporation. Lizana wrote:
There is a feeling among Chilean bloggers that the agreement signed between the Economy Minister, Alejandro Ferreiro and Craig Mundie, Chief Research and Strategy Officer de Microsoft Corporation on May 9th is not good for Chile. The title of this post written by Christian in elfrancotirador [ES] explains the situation in a simple way: “Guys, what would you say if I told you that starting today that the 15 million of Chileans will (all) be users of Microsoft, even if we wanted to or not? That's what I thought.”
Much of the topics of Velásquez’ articles revolves around the ongoing conflict between the Colombian government, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC for its initials in Spanish) and the paramilitary groups. In addition, Colombian president Álvaro Uribe was also a subject for Colombian bloggers, especially for his conflicts with the Supreme Court , dealings with the family of hostages, and his bittersweet visit to Washington, D.C.
Colombian bloggers were also sympathetic to the hostages held by the FARC forces. Velásquez wrote the protests against these kidnappings:
After the murder of 11 deputies by FARC guerrillas, Colombians decided to go to the streets and yell “No More Kidnappings“. It started as a citizen initiative, but soon the democratic security government, big companies and mainstream media supported it and invited people to join. The huge demonstration took place on Thursday 5 July at noon. Even Second Lifers protested. But leftist Alternative Democratic Pole preferred to call its “own march”, because it didn’t want to be supportive of President Uribe, who is also considered [by them] to be responsible for the death of the local lawmakers.
Rincón also wrote about reactions to these kidnappings, especially for three-year-old Emanuel, the son of hostage Clara Rojas and his guerrilla solider father. Videos of some of these hostages were also recently released by the FARC, who was a group that was idolized by a Dutch girl, whose secret diary was published by a local newspaper.
Not everything that Colombian bloggers wrote about were related to Uribe, the FARC or the hostages. Rincón also covered those bloggers that enjoyed to write about blogger meet-ups in Medellín, a new television show devoted to blogs, and local groups that have come out against bullfighting. Bloggers in Colombia also know how to come out in support of campaigns, such as the one to support a local Flickr photographer whose Creative Commons license was violated by a commercial newspaper. Rincón wrote:
Last week, Colombian Flickr users and bloggers united against a regional newspaper that violated the Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives (by-nc-nd) Creative Commons license that a user placed on her photographs, a license which has full legal standing in Colombia.
Through a message on Twitter, mariacecita, a photographer from Cali, Colombia, let her friends know that the regional newspaper El País from Cali had copied one of the pictures from her Flickr page and used it on their weekly magazine to illustrate a photography exhibition. Not only did they not cite her as author of the picture, they modified it and printed it on their regional newspapers which is sold for profit, breaking all three of the license's conditions.
Roy Rojas‘ special interest in the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) were highlighted in several stories about the campaign and the national referendum that took place in Costa Rica. After the final tally, the people of Costa Rica narrowly approved the trade agreement with the United States. Rojas wrote about this vote:
On October 7, Costa Rica participated in a democratic exercise through a referendum to decide on the fate of the Free-Trade Agreement and citizens were able to be a legislator for day. It was a day with plenty of tension on both sides. Neither those supporting “Yes”, nor those supporting “No” were assured of a victory, and in the streets, one could hear equal numbers of songs and chants, and most importantly with respect.
Coverage of the campaigns tended to be controversial, as Rojas wrote an accompanying article to Juliana Rincón's piece about the media's coverage of the campaign. Current Colombian author, Rincón, previously lived in Costa Rica prior to moving to her current residence.
Finally, Costa Rica's trade and diplomatic relationship was also the subject of a pair of articles on Global Voices. Costa Rica formally broke relations with Taiwan in order to establish commercial agreements with China.