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Mexico: Felipe Calderon's Cabinet on Twitter

In mid-April, the government headed by Felipe Calderon announced with much fanfare that every member of the cabinet was now registered on Twitter, and prepared to deal with the public more directly via social media.

Two reports in the Mexican mainstream media set the story in motion. Writing for CNNMexico [es] under the title “Mexico busca eficacia del gobierno electronico pese a la poca conectividad” (“Mexico looks for efficient e-government despite limited connectivity”), Hiroshi Takahashi reported on the presentation of the draft communique from the President, which features new language on the use of social networks including Twitter and Facebook, as well as a redesign of the website [es] associated with his office that now comprises nineteen blogs.

Mexican flag at the national palace by Flickr user Omar Omar (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Mexican flag at the national palace by Flickr user Omar Omar (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Alejandra Sota, the President's Co-ordinator of Social Communication, pointed out [es] that Mexico leads Latin America in the use of Facebook, and occupies eighth place [es] in the region in its total of Twitter users. Ms. Sota elaborates on her blog [es], located on the revamped website:

El nuevo modelo de comunicacion digital de la Presidencia es un proyecto basado en el compromise con la innovacion pero, principalmente, con la transparencia; con el derecho de los mexicanos a saber, y con su obligacion de preguntar, de informarse, de debater y proponer….  A partir de hoy el gavbnete mexicano sera el primero completo en twitter en el mundo.

The new model of digital communication from the Presidency is a project based on a commitment to innovation, but mainly to transparency, to the right of Mexicans to know, and their obligation to ask, inquire, discuss and propose…. The Mexican cabinet will be the first in the world to be fully on Twitter.

A report by Maria del Carmen Cortes for El Universal [es] entitled “Timidos, muchos secretarios para expresarse en Twitter” (“Many secretaries are timid about expressing themselves on Twitter”), distinguished between the handful of secretaries who already had active accounts and significant followings on Twitter, and another group of users entirely new to the platform.

Pero lo cierto es que muchos de ellos prefieren pasar inadvertidos, mantanerse en silencio, sin emitir comentarios en esta plataforma instantanea….

La initiativa forma parte de una nueva forma de comunicacion del gabinete presidencial, cuyo objetivo es mantener comunicacion directo con los ciudadenos.

But the truth is that many of them prefer to go unnoticed, to keep quiet, not to comment on this instantaneous platform….

The initiative is part of a new form of communication on the part of the presidential cabinet, whose objective is to maintain direct communication with citizens.

Javier Lozano, the secretary of Labour and Social Welfare (who has declared his own presidential aspirations), is thus far the most popular and prolific of the ministers on Twitter, with more than 37,000 followers and over 11,700 tweets to his credit (at the time of writing this post). The timeline for his Twitter account, @JLozanoA, yields the following tweet, indicative of a certain level of comfort with the medium.

@JLozanoA: Ya me voy a dormir, no sin antes reconocer que Chivas perdio bien con un golazo de ultimo segundo contra Santos (en Guadalajara). Saludos.

@JLozanoA: Now I'm going to sleep, but not before acknowledging that Chivas lost even with a goal in the last second against Santos (in Guadalajara). Best wishes.

On the other end of the spectrum is the minister of Public Security, Genaro Garcia Luna, with 1,408 followers and, to date, a single, somewhat redundant, tweet at @GenaroGarciaL.

@GenaroGarciaL: La cuenta de twitter del Secretario de Seguridad Publica es @GenaroGarciaL

@GenaroGarciaL: The twitter account of the Secretary of Public Security is @GenaroGarciaL

The secretary is, however, already on the receiving end of a number of tweets from his followers, including Ale (@aaleog), who directed the following messages to him:

@aaleog: @GenaroGarciaL el silencio informativo es la peor strategia

@aaleog: @GenaroGarciaL la mejor consigna es explicar en todo momento lo que se hace

@aaleog: @GenaroGarciaL informative silence is the worst strategy

@aaleog: @GenaroGarciaL the best slogan is to explain at every moment what is being done

The Secretary of Public Education, Alonso Lujambio, who can be reached @LujambioAlonso, is drawing a sometimes enthusiastic response from his followers. From Aguascalientes, Manuel Cortina (@manuelcortina) tweeted approvingly, appending the link to a twitpic of the minister:

@manuelcortina: Desayunando con @LujambioAlonso#AgsMx http://twitpic.com/4m2379 Buen ejercicio democrático.

@manuelcortina: Having breakfast with @lujambioalonso  #AgsMx  http://twitpic.com/4m2379 Good democratic exercise

The Attorney General, Marisela Morales, issued her first tweet from her account @MMoralesI, which took the form of a call for collective responsibility:

@MMoralesI: Solo con la participacion activa de la sociedad vamos a someter a la delincuencia

@MMoralesI: Only with the active participation of society will we subdue delinquency

Her followers appear to be of mixed minds about Mexico's prospects. Guillermo Lozano A. D. (@glazanoad) wrote encouragingly from Leon, Guanajuato:

@glazanoad: Marisela, cuenta con todo nuestro apoyo como sociedad, confiamos en tu capacidad y conviccion para acabar con la delincuencia

@glazanoad: Marisela, count on all our support as a society, we trust in your capacity and conviction to put an end to delinquency.

Irma Zvelasco (@unpieenelcielo) was more equivocal:

@unpieenelcielo: @MMoralesI Esperamos que eso sea cierto, por q vamos muy mal

@unpieenelcielo: @MMoralesI We hope that is true, because we are going very badly.

It is worth noting that in the same week that the Calderon government trumpeted its full-fledged entry into social media, the World Economic Forum issued its “Report on Global Information Technology 2009-2010“.

According to the study, Mexico ranks 78 out of 133 in the use of information technology –the same as the previous year. The report measures how likely countries are to take advantage of opportunities afforded by technology with regard to governance, business and public policy.

With the question of access to a range of technologies underlying the results of the WEF report, one user's response to the announcement that Mexican ministers are now on Twitter takes on a particular resonance. Ivan Trejo Molina (@ivan_trejom) admonishes,

@ivan_trejomhttp://on.cnn.com/gqQSIHJ #Mexico / Sin embargo olvidan ke no todo Mexico esta en TW

@ivan_trejom: http://on.cnn.com/gqQSIHJ #Mexico / However they are forgetting that not all of Mexico is on TW[itter]

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