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Blog Carnival: Peru: Internet and Activism- A Summary

Cyberactivism is something that has a lot to offer Peruvian internauts and to society in general; this is the conclusion that has arisen after reviewing the participating posts in the fourth blog carnival organised by Global Voices in Spanish: Blog carnival: Peru: Internet and Political Activity (Festival de blogs: Perú: Internet y activismo [es]).

So what is a “blog carnival”?  It is a virtual event where a blogging host, in this case Global Voices in Spanish, calls upon other blogs to write about a specific topic. The carnival normally has a fixed duration and when it has finished, a post is published summarizing all entries. This is what follows.

I am starting the compilation of posts sent to the carnival with Gabriela García Calderón’s from the blog Seis de enero (January 6). In her post “Blog carnival: My little grain of sand” [es], she admits knowing very little about the topic of cyberactivism, but nonetheless she is aware of its importance. And it is for this reason that I am choosing her post as a starting point as people who are always online (myself included) tend to forget things such as the digital divide, poor quality connections and the little interest many people have for things that can be done within the “digital bubble”:

Creo que es la primera vez que admito públicamente tener apenas una idea muy vaga de lo que es la Web 2.0. No sé qué son los programas de fuente abierta. No sé qué es un RSS feed ni un podcast. … Además de eso, no estoy en Facebook … Tampoco estoy en Twitter … A pesar de mi ignorancia en el tema, puedo darme cuenta de que nada de esto sería posible si no existieran esos mecanismos cuyo funcionamiento desconozco casi en su totalidad. Y aplaudo el valor que tienen ciudadanos comunes y corrientes que un día deciden que es momento de decir ¡BASTA! Muchas veces se arriesgan ellos mismos con la decisión de convertirse en ciberactivistas.

I think that it’s the first time that I have publically admitted not even having the vaguest idea about what Web 2.0 is. I don’t know what open source programmes are. I don’t know what an RSS feed or a podcast is. What’s more, I’m not on Facebook….or Twitter. Despite my ignorance about the topic, I realise that none of this would be possible if these mechanisms and their operation of which I know nothing. And I praise the value that the average man on the street has to one day decide that it’s the time to say ENOUGH! Very often they put themselves on the line with the decision to not turn into a cyberactivisit.

From the city of Arequipa, Carol from the blog La literatura es la sensibilidad del alma (Literature is the sensitivity of the soul) has given us the post “Making the most of technology [es],” where aside from explaining how the Internet and its tools can improve our quality of life, also poses some questions reflecting upon the way we use them and to the information it supplies us with, in order to finally point out:

Activismo en Internet, es un término utilizado con frecuencia, el cual da pie a una serie de entendimientos que se refieren a diferentes actividades que se pueden realizar dentro de un contexto diferente y cambiante, para dar a conocer puntos de vista distintos en variados temas, dónde las opiniones de los que emiten un veredicto, reflexión o conducta, dan a conocer el intento por mejorar sobre los asuntos planteados. Esta iniciativa nos indica un indicio favorable en salvaguarda de los usuarios y sus diversas opciones.

Internet activism is a frequently used term, which gives rise to a series of understandings that refer to different activities that can be carried out within a different and changing context, to express different points of view about various subjects, where opinions that issue a verdict, reflection or behaviour, reveal the attempt by improving on established issues. These initiatives give us a favourable indication in the safeguard of users and diverse options.

Valvanera, author of the blog Vive Simple (Live Simple), reminds us with the post “What am I doing writing a blog?” [es] that in these times of social networking, the blog format still has a lot to say and that in some way can be used as a personal propaganda tool (and this is cyberactivism for oneself):

En un blog uno puede exponer sus ideas, darlas a conocer a otras personas. Antes tenías que esperar para escribir un libro, (¡Y ya viene!) que algún periódico o revista quisiese publicarte un artículo (acepto todo tipo de ofrecimientos) y ni pensar en trabajar en radio o televisión. Por más que suene a cliché, ahora es mucho más fácil, gracias a la Internet y a través de un medio como el blog, puedes hacerlo tú solo, no necesitas de nada ni de nadie (sí, yo siempre he querido ser autosuficiente, a pesar de que mi papá dijese que así, nadie se querría casar conmigo :) ).

In a blog ideas can be aired and introduced to other people. Before you had to wait to write a book (it’s coming now!), or for a newspaper to publish your article (I accept all kinds of offers) and not even thinking about working in radio or television. No matter how much it sounds like a cliché, now it’s much easier, thanks to Internet and through a medium like a blog, you can do it all on your own. You don’t need anything or anybody (and I have always wanted to be self-sufficient, despite my father saying that if I’m like that, no one will want to marry me :)).

And almost like a verification of the previous, comes an experience that Rafael Delgado Pacheco shares in this post [es] in his blog Holy Trinity School, a blog created as historical database with anecdotes of a school until one day the management team announced that they would be selling it, and despite promises to show the accounts and explain the reasons behind a supposed financial collapse, they preferred silence, aggression, threats and insults in response to demands for transparency.

En ese entonces, este blog, pasó a ser un vehículo de DENUNCIA de las FECHORIAS e IRREGULARIDADES en el MANEJO ECONOMICO FINANCIERO. Vale destacar que nuestras denuncias fueron fruto de una exhaustiva investigación, comprobación de las fuentes, y con LAS PRUEBAS CONTUNDENTES E IRREFUTABLES DE ILICITOS PENALES, hicimos una denuncia penal que acaba de ser formalizada por el titular de la 27 Fiscalía Provincial Penal de Lima. … Una las principales denunciadas penalmente en este caso … ha tratado de silenciar este humilde BLOG, iniciándome una QUERELLA por supuesta DIFAMACION… Pero no lo ha logrado, porque no hay delito de opinión, no hay dolo en formular denuncias basadas en pruebas irrefutables,

This blog then passed from being a vehicle for COMPLAINT and MISDEEDS and IRREGULARITIES in ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL HANDLING. It’s worth mentioning that our complaints were the fruit of an exhaustive investigation, verification of sources and with CONVINCING AND IRREFUTABLE EVIDENCE OF CRIMINAL OFFENCES, we made a criminal complaint that has just been formalised by the holder of the 27 Provincial Public Prosecutor’s Office in Lima…One of the offenders in question has tried to silence this humble blog by taking out a LAWSUIT for alleged libel….but she was not successful because having an opinion is no crime, there is nothing wrong in formulating complaints based on irrefutable evidence.

La piñata, from the blog Break the piñata, as well as establishing some interesting reflections about cyberactivism on a global level, makes a brief analysis of the blogging and cyberactivism panorama in Peru in the post “(Cyber) Active” [es]:

el Perú está, no solamente alerta a los cambios de otros países, sino que se ve un intento de peruanizar el 2.0. ¿Lo hemos logrado o somos simplemente meras copias de países más desarrollados? … en estos últimos meses se ha forjado en el país la campaña VPerú, basada en el proyecto de la dramaturga americana Eve Ensler esta es una campaña para incrementar la conciencia acerca del tema de la violencia en contra de la mujer. … Pero en nuestro país no solamente se utiliza el activismo en la forma de campañas de concientización sino que el ciberespacio ve reflejada la naturaleza emprendedora de los peruanos … la web 2.0 en su versión peruana es un medio de publicidad en donde, a través de poder ser fan de una empresa el usuario puede ver lo que estas ofrecen.

Peru is not only open to changes in other countries, but is also involved in an attempt to Peruvianise the [web] 2.0. Have we achieved it, or are we merely copying other more developed countries? In the past few months the campaign VPeru has been formed, based on the American playwright Eve Ensler. This is a campaign to raise awareness regarding the subject of violence against women….But in our country, not only do we use activism as a way of increasing awareness, but also cyberspace can be a way to reflect the enterprising nature of Peruvians…..the Peruvian version of 2.0 web is a form of advertising where, by being a fan of a company, the user can see what is being offered.

Leaving to one side the sales springboard side of 2.0, Troba from the blog Trobando voy, establishes in his post “Long live the rag” [es] a series of dualities that are interesting to analyse, such as being a volunteer and individualism, activism and the opportunist, solidarity and egoism. I have taken two of his reflections as an example:

Es díficil ser activista cuando desde la escuela te meten en la cabeza la necesidad de ser “líder” y alcanzar el “éxito”. Es necesario ir contra la corriente y apartarte de esos esquemas mentales en primera persona, para pensar en el prójimo, confiar en el y tomar partido por sus causas activamente.

El activista y el oportunista pueden coincidir y mezclarse, ¿cómo diferenciarlos, sea en vivo o virtualmente? Al oportunista solo lo ves defendiendo los derechos de los “visibles” – personas con cierto status – pero calla cuando se trata de defender a los “invisibles” – los anónimos – ya que de ellos ganará poco o nada.

It is difficult to be an activist when, since school, you have been made to feel the need to become a leader and to find success. It’s essential to go against the norm and to separate yourself from this way of thinking about yourself and to focus on your neighbour, to trust him/her and to actively support his causes.

The activist and the opportunist can agree and both get involved. How can we differentiate between them, whether in the flesh or virtually? You only see the opportunist defending his “visible” rights – people with a certain status – but then becomes quiet when it comes to defending “the invisible” – the anonymous – when from them you can gain very little or nothing.

Francisco Canaza from the blog Apuntes Peruanos (Peruvian notes) gives a historical account of cyberactivism in Peru in his post “Cyber Activism?” [es] and draws attention to the results obtained, as well as the problems encountered in this type of activity:

… deberemos diferenciar el ciberactivismo del campañismo versión 2.0, ese uso de formas y modos del activismo pero cuyo único fin parece ser la campaña en sí y no el resultado, que usa a la web social como escenario pero no se articula en una pluralidad de nodos, sino en grupos de usuarios y de intereses identificables y bien definidos.

El dilema ético ya ha sido repasado varias veces en las movidas blogueras: temas como conflicto de intereses, cuestionamientos deontológicos, entre otros, han servido para diseccionar y entender la mayoría de campañas ejecutadas.

….we should differentiate between cyberactivism and versión 2.0 campaigning, this use of ways and methods for activism but whose only objective seems to be the campaign in itself and not the result, that uses the social network as a stage but is not articulated in a plurality of nodes, but in groups of users and identifiable, well-defined interests.

The ethical dilemma has now been looked into many times by lively bloggers: themes such as conflict of interests and deontological debates among others have served to dissect and understand the majority of campaigns carried out.

Another person with a critical view of cyberactivism is Isabel Guerra of the blog Las Burbujas Recargadas (Refilled Bubbles) in “Reflections on cyberactivism in Peru” [es]. Among her reflections is the following:

hay gente que se aprovecha de alguna causa que se percibe como justa para, como se dice, ganar indulgencias con avemarías ajenas … me he vuelto desconfiada por sistema, y soy sumamente escéptica en cuanto al uso de las campañas “simpáticas”. El hecho es que se suele tomar una causa “simpática” a la cual nadie podría oponerse, para empujar con ella otras cosas y hasta intereses muy específicos, y muchas veces se hace simplemente buscando exposición mediática. Desconfío menos de las campañas que nacen como producto de un descontento en particular, o como denuncia por atropellos de libertades personales, porque por su naturaleza no son “marketeras” y porque, por lo general,  como suelen ser sistemáticamente ignoradas o silenciadas por autoridades, gobiernos y/o prensa, tienen efectivamente que valerse de sus propios recursos y encontrar las formas de romper este cerco, que el mensaje llegue a donde debe llegar. Eso es activismo genuino.

There are people who benefit from a cause which is perceived as just for, as one says, to gain indulgence through Ave Marías….I have lost my faith in the system, and I am extremely sceptical about the use of “pleasant” campaigns. The fact is that people normally adopt a “pleasant” cause to which nobody can oppose, in order to push other things, even very specific interests and very often it is just media exploitation. I have lost even more faith in campaigns that are born from a particular discontent about something or as a complaint for outbursts of personal freedom, because they are not marketers by nature. And because in general, as they’re normally systematically ignored or silenced by authorities, governments and/or press, they effectively have to make use of their own resources and find ways to break this fence, so that the message gets to where it should be. This is genuine activism.

Aware of almost everything already mentioned, John Espinal of the blog Muladar News recounts in his post “Citizen Participation 2.0” [es] how the evolution of information has led us to social networks making citizen’s action easier, and optimistically concludes:

el ‘ciberactivismo’ con sus errores y aciertos, con sus excesos y ambiciones es una herramienta válida para proponer ideas, para transmitir nuestros mensajes en esa tarea que deseamos emprender, nadie debería sentirse postergado, cada uno de nosotros ‘ciudadanos de a pie’ es un activista en potencia, debemos ser consciente que somos instrumentos primordiales en la aventura de construir un mundo mejor a este que nos quieren imponer, no basta con aceptar las informaciones o discutirlas en nuestro medio interno, se necesita gente participativa, personas que estén dispuestas a brindar su vida en un testimonio de lucha continua para entregar como herencia esa sociedad justa que nosotros tanto reclamamos.

Cyberactivism with all its errors and accuracies, with its excesses and ambitions, is a valid tool to propose ideas, to transmit our messages in a task that we want to undertake. Nobody should feel left out, everyone of us is the man in the street, we are all potential activists, we should be aware that we are primordial instruments on an adventure to build a better world, it’s not enough to just accept information and discuss them in our own internal environment, participative people are needed, those who are ready to offer their lives in a testament of continual protest to award as an inheritance this society that we so have so much demanded.

We remain very grateful to everyone who took the time to participate, maybe taking time away from other activities; also to those who supported us with the broadcasting, among whom I especially remember Bruno Ortíz of the newspaper El Comercio for his article [es] in the Life and Future section in the daily [es], and to Juan Carlos Luján for the interview [es] he carried out, also to the Twitter users who tweeted about our event. Thanks, guys! But above all, I would like to thank in advance all those who have a moment to read this post and all of the related posts so that you can therefore enjoy a series of very diverse blogs providing a series of sincere and relevant opinions. I really do recommend browsing through them, a current display of the Peruvian blogosphere. See you at the next carnival in 2011!

4 comments

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