Chile: New Government Makes Strong Presence on Twitter

For the first time in Chile, Internet users can follow the President and the Cabinet of ministers on Twitter; President Sebastián Piñera and his entire Cabinet opened their Twitter accounts. As expected, Chilean social media users have taken notice, commenting on their expectations for this new way of interacting with their leaders.

Sample of twitter accounts of Cabinet members.

Sample of twitter accounts of Cabinet members.

Accounts are updated using different applications like UberTwitter, HootSuite and OpenBreak; although some stick to the traditional method of posting via web.

Minister of Defense Jaime Ravinet (@jravinet) started Tweeting on March 26. In one of his tweets he says,

Gracias por sus saludos, de apoco aprendo a usar esta nueva herramienta..

Thank you for your greetings, little by little I'm learning to use this new tool…

His latest Tweet reports on his visit to wounded military:

visité a militares accidentados ayer. Su evolución es satisfactoria,Cabo Hernández está en la UTI por fractura de pelvis y ambas muñecas

I visited wounded military yesterday. Their progress is satisfactory, Private Hernández is in the ICU for a fracture of his pelvis and both wrists

Rodrigo Alvarez (@RodrigoAlvarez_), Sub-Secretary of the Treasury, seems to be more familiar with Twitter: he responds to other users, posts information about his day-to-day activities as a government official, and as many other politicians do via Twitter, he promotes government policies:

El compromiso del gobierno es total.No vamos a detenernos hasta que cada uno de ustedes pueda ponerse de pie y mirar el futuro con esperanza

The government's commitment is absolute. We are not going to stop until each one of you can stand up and look toward the future with hope

The citizen newspaper El Paradiario 14 [es] posted a story that includes a list of all the ministers with their corresponding Twitter accounts. The article reminds readers that Piñera used social media to his advantage during his presidential campaign.

Recordemos que la campaña digital del Presidente Electo fue probablemente la más activa en la utilización de redes sociales: Sebastián Piñera contaba vía Twitter las cosas que iba haciendo, convocaba voluntarios a través de Facebook y compartía las imágenes de sus recorridos en Flickr. Todo, siguiendo la tendencia que legó Barack Obama en EE.UU. Sin embargo, una cosa es la campaña y otra es gobernar utilizando estas herramientas de comunicación…

Let’s remember that the digital campaign of the President Elect was probably the most active in using social media; Sebastián Piñera related via Twitter the things he was doing, he called for volunteers through Facebook, and shared images of his travels on Flickr. All of this, following the trend left by Barack Obama in the U.S.A. Nevertheless, one thing is campaigning and another is governing using these tools of communication…

Enzo Abbagliati Boïls wrote a post on his blog Cadaunadas [es] about the Cabinet’s presence on Twitter. He sees this as a positive move, but he also says that frequent social media users should not get their hopes up too high; he argues each user should define what they expect.

Para quienes vivimos cotidianamente en las redes sociales, es una buena noticia saber que tendremos la oportunidad de compartir con las máximas autoridades del Poder Ejecutivo a través de este espacio. […]

Mientras tanto, que el Presidente electo y sus 22 ministras y ministros tengan cuenta en Twitter, no debe generar en nosotros, la ciudadanía que frecuentamos estos espacios, falsas expectativas. Es bueno, por ello, que cada uno de nosotros defina que espera y -sobre todo- que no espera de la presencia de estas autoridades en la red.

For those of us who live our daily lives on social media sites, it is good news to know that we will have the chance to share with the authorities of the executive power through this space […]

Meanwhile, the fact that the President-elect and his 22 ministers have a Twitter account shouldn’t generate in us, the people that visit these spaces, false expectations. It would be good, because of this, that each one of us define what we expect and –above all- what we don’t expect from the online presence of these authorities.

Abbagliati shares that one of the things he anticipates is that ministers will use Twitter as a means of communication, not just a platform for announcements or news. Sigrid [es] commented on this post saying that she hopes this is a step in the right direction toward a stronger democracy where citizens can more directly tell their officials what they think and feel.

Yo espero q sea una forma de establecer mayor horizontalidad entre las “autoridades” y la ciudadanía, chile está a años luz de un gobierno realmente ciudadano, y tenemos los recursos para hacerlo, no sólo tecnológicos, sino también un movimiento grande de personas interesadas en el bien común y con ganas de manifestar su opinión respecto al acontecer nacional y con ganas de ser escuchados. No hablo de lógicas asistencialistas, más bien hablo de real democracia y expresión ciudadana. Espero realmente que este inicio sea una señal de un cambio potente y real.

I hope this is a way to establish greater horizontal communication between the “authorities” and the citizenry, Chile is light years away from a real citizen government, and we have the means to do it, not only technologically, but also a large movement of people interested in the common good and with a desire to be heard. I’m not talking about the logistics of assistentialism, instead I’m talking about real democracy and citizen expression. I really hope that this beginning is a sign of strong and real change.
Ministers with Sebastián Piñera at cabinet meeting. Photo uploaded by Flickr account Ministerio Secretaria General de Gobierno and used under a Creative Commons license.

Ministers with Sebastián Piñera at cabinet meeting. Photo uploaded by Flickr account Ministerio Secretaria General de Gobierno and used under a Creative Commons license.

User Kangrejoman [es] showed skepticism, wondering who is behind the Twitter updates:

A lo mejor peco de ingenuo o pesimista, pero dudo que el 100% de los ministros vaya a administrar personalmente sus cuentas.

Maybe I am guilty for being naïve and pessimistic, but I doubt that 100% of the ministers are going to personally administer their accounts.

Alejandro Barros [es] commented on Abbagliati's blog posting regarding the same issue, linking to a story from November 15, 2009 that quotes President Obama saying he was not the one updating his Twitter account:

Enzo, yo espero otra cosa, además de las que planteas, saber quien administra su cuenta: el jefe de gabinete, su asesor comunicacional, la SECOM o son ellos directamente. […] Creo que sería bueno lo supieramos antes y no después como fue en el caso de Obama: 

Creo que eso hace iniciar el proceso en forma transparente

Enzo, I hope for something else, apart from what you argue for, knowing who administers their account […] I think it would be good to know this before, and not after like in the case of Obama: 

I think that assures the process begins in a transparent way.

Abbagliati finishes his post with an invitation to comment on the issue, and with a powerful concluding statement of what he hopes will come out of this interaction:

Finalmente, no espero que cambien Chile desde Twitter. Más bien espero lo contrario: que a través de Twitter, Chile cambie a los ministros y ministras. Los ciudadanos y ciudadanas que habitamos por estos lares no representamos a todo el país, pero sin duda ayudaremos a que en sus reuniones de Gabinete haya mayor diversidad.

Finally, I don’t expect them to change Chile through Twitter. Instead, I hope the contrary will happen: that through Twitter, Chile will change the ministers. Citizens that inhabit these sites don’t represent the entire country, but without a doubt we help to bring more diversity to Cabinet meetings.


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  • Pat Humphrey

    We are deeply impressed with the Chilean people & President Pinera, with your vigilance and communal support of your wonderful miners. We are and have been especially moved by the resilience, dedication to each other and determination of our world’s great Chilean miners! You serve as an inspiration to all of us and a bless- ed and an efficacious act of loving service to mankind. you have served the world as a model of how things should be and can be when humans respond from their innate goodness for the benefit of the community of the world in service to each other. Your miners, their families and your government’s willingness to reach out to everyone exemplifies what is necessary everywhere, especially in my country, the USA. we will not abandon you. we continue to pray for you dear miners as we watch every moment of the unveiling of these miraculous rescues. we cannot stop crying. you are not alone. You have touched us deeply and shall remain connected with each of you through soul and spirit. Best wishes to you and yours in the coming days and years. May you continue to reclaim your health and prosper in heart, soul, mind and spirit! Thank you for teaching us so many important lessons. Bless you, the great country of Chile and our shared world.

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