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Peru: Cyber-Activism in Chimbote

Since November of last year, when I wrote [es] about the activity of blogs and Twitter in the city of Chimbote, some important incidents have taken place; some of those came to light when I spoke to some bloggers [es] from Chimbote last January. In the recent months, more people have joined these blogging and Twitter initiatives and the integration has expanded to Facebook. Augusto Rubio, from the blog Marea Cultural, worried about the regrettable state of the roads in Chimbote, took advantage of this occasion and called for a public forum. The announcement for a type of smart mob and public forum was sent through Facebook under the name, S.O.S. ¡Arreglen las Pistas de Chimbote!…[es] (S.O.S Repair the Roads of Chimbote!):

S.O.S. ¡ARREGLEN LAS PISTAS DE CHIMBOTE!… aspira a canalizar las inquietudes de los chimbotanos y de quienes visitan el puerto y constatan el caos que vivimos, de quienes desean solucionar con propuestas el grave problema que origina el mal estado de las pistas producto de obras públicas inconclusas y la incapacidad de quienes malgobiernan como ya hemos manifestado. Súmate a esta cruzada!…

S.O.S REPAIR THE ROADS OF CHIMBOTE!…aspires to channel the anxiety of the people of Chimbote and of those who visit our town and notice the chaos in which we live, of those who wish to find solutions with proposals to the severe problem that originates from the poor state of the roads as a product of unfinished public works and the incapability of those who wrongfully govern like we have manifested.  Join us in this crusade!…

Image of event SOS Repair the Roads of Chimbote, used with permission from Augusto Rubio.

On his personal blog Habla, Cabeza e’libro (Speak, Book Head) Augusto added [es]:

Voces por el cambio“, a través de ésta la primera convocatoria 2.0 de activismo y participación ciudadana, aspira a generar la movilización social reformulando el ejercicio del poder a través de las nuevas tecnologías y de esta forma cambiar la agenda pública hasta ahora copada y dominada por medios de comunicación tradicionales mayormente de espaldas al pueblo y a favor de intereses económicos y grupo de poder.

“Voices for change,” through this first 2.0 call of activism and citizen participation, aspired to generate a social mobilization to reformulate the exercise of power through new technologies and in this way change the public agenda which up to now has been dominated by the mainstream media mainly behind the back of the people and in favor of economic interests and of a group with power.

Soon this call for a smart mob won followers not only on Facebook but also on blogs of other people from Chimbote. This is the case with Gelen Salinas who said the following [es] through the blog Espacio Sideral =) [es]:

Las autoridades no ven (o no quieren ver) el daño que producen al no concluir con el arreglo de las pistas; ya que los transportistas no ven más solución que hacerse notar con sus estruendosos claxon y gritarse entre ellos para que “avancen” en un vía donde el comienzo es notable pero el final es toda una utopía. Esto no sólo produce molestías que van desde el sentimiento de desagrado y la incomididad de los transeúntes; sino que ocasionan daños irreversibles en el sistema auditivo.

Authorities don’t see (or don’t want to see) the damage they cause by not finishing the repair of the roads: drivers don’t see any other way of getting noticed than through their noisy honking and yelling at each other so that they can “move forward” in a road where the beginning is visible but the end is not. This doesn’t only cause nuisances that can be seen in the displeasure and discomfort of the drivers; but it also causes irreversible damage to our auditory system.

Another blogger from Chimbote, Katia Cruz, spread [es] information on the smart mob through her blog Detrás del Telón (Behind the Curtain)

(se) ha convocado a las personas conscientes al plantón y foro público “S.O.S. ¡Arreglen las pistas de Chimbote!”, a realizarse este jueves 3 de Junio a partir de las 11.00 a.m. en la berma central de la Av. Pardo (esquina con Enrique Palacios), Plaza de Armas.

A call has been made to people conscious about the smart mob and public forum “S.O.S Repair the Roads of Chimbote!,” which will take place this Thursday June 3, starting at 11:00 a.m. in the central berm of Pardo Avenue (corner of Enrique Palacios), Plaza de Armas.

The blog Expresarte Siempre (Always Express Yourself) reflects [es] on the situation:

Mirar nuestras calles y pistas, es más, pasar por ahí  me da mucho qué pensar y la verdad tengo tantas cosas qué decir, quisiera también que traten de explicarme porqué tanto tiempo… Y bueno, por los comentarios de los conductores de las combis, los colectivos, los mototaxis  y transeúntes ese detalle o esas preguntas no sólo me las hago yo. Por un lado qué bueno! Pero por otro lado, ¿qué hacemos para que nuestra voz se escuche?

Seeing our streets and roads, what’s more, going through them, makes me very sad and I truly have so many things to say, I would also like them to explain to me why so much time has gone by… And well, about the comments from the drivers of small buses, shared taxis, mototaxis and pedestrians that issue or those questions are things that others are also asking. On one hand, that’s good! But on the other hand, what do we need to do to get our voice heard?
The journalist Ítalo Jiménez in the blog Ágora, informs [es] his readers about another side of the smart mob and public forum:

En la actividad, cito textualmente, “será posible escuchar de primera mano a los ciudadanos de diversas zonas del puerto que sufren desde hace mucho tiempo las consecuencias del abandono y el caos en que vivimos a raíz de las inconclusas y ‘prolongadas’ obras públicas que han acarreado una serie de males ante la pasividad e indiferencia de las ‘autoridades’, quienes también han sido invitadas”.

In the activity, I quote directly, “it will be possible to listen directly to the citizens of various zones of the port that have been suffering for a long time the consequences of the abandonment and chaos that we live in because of the inconclusive and ‘prolonged’ public works that have brought with them a series of ills thanks to the passiveness and indifference from the ‘authorities’ who has also been invited”

Finally, the day arrived and the smart mob and public forum took place. During a couple of hours the organizers took a small but central space in the city (after they arranged the corresponding municipal permits) and armed with microphones, sound equipment, a banner and a huge sign, and their strong lungs of course, encouraged pedestrians to leave their opinion about the issue of the bad state of the roads in Chimbote (pictures of the roads can be seen here and more pictures of the event can be seen here)

Image of event SOS Repair the Roads of Chimbote; people write on “Cadáver Exquisito” (a huge sign with messages). Used with permission from Augusto Rubio.

The response was truly encouraging and the event caught the attention of curious people walking by, and the media was also present. Various of those interested in what everything was about ended up leaving their own testimony, opinion or request on the big sign or “Cadáver Exquisito” [es] “Exquisite Cadaver”. During the three hours that the evening lasted, about 120 people participated actively and many more watched. Despite the fact that no authority made an appearance, this has been a move in an interesting direction to contribute to raising consciousness in the somewhat sleepy society of Chimbote.

Here you can watch a video [es] where Augusto Rubio explains how the initiative began and expands on related issues.

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