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February 21 2014

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January 30 2014

According to Google Autocomplete ‘Colombia is Passion’ and ‘Mexico is Culture’

Colombian blogger Javier Moreno typed “[Name of country] is” on Google search to see auto-complete suggestions for each country in Latin America and Europe. He modeled his experiment after the English version of the Google search “Why [country] is.”

From his search in Colombia he got results like “Ecuador is dangerous,” “Brazil is a Latin country”, “Bolivia is God's people,” “France is socialist,” “Belguim is expensive,” and “Spain is different.”

He added his results to two maps in his blog Rango Finito [es].


January 22 2014

10 Documentaries on South American Music to Watch Online

Nick MacWilliam from the blog Sounds and Colours has compiled a list of 10 documentaries, “looking at all manner of musical styles and movements from the region, with films focused on Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Peru and Venezuela.”

This list makes no attempt to rank the films, nor does it purport that these films are any better or worse than other music documentaries related to South America. The idea is to provide a sample of some of the films out there so that, firstly, they are enjoyed and, secondly, we hope they will open a few doors for our readers into new areas of regional identity.

The films are available online, for free.

January 13 2014

Colombians March in Support of Dismissed Bogotá Mayor

Supporters marched in Bogotá and in other major cities to support Mayor Gustavo Petro, who was dismissed from his duties by Colombia's Inspector General Alejandro Ordóñez Maldonado and banned from public office for 15 years.

Mike's Bogotá Blog shares photos and an account of the march on January 10, 2014:

[...] the most widespread motive I heard for backing Petro was on general democratic principles: Ousting him this way, by an extremely conservative unelected official, was anti-democratic.

Kenneth Lowe in Colombia Reports adds:

The former mayor is currently waiting for the inspector general to rule on [his] appeal. The United Nations and the Inter-American Court for Human Rights are also studying claims Ordoñez overreached his authority by removing the elected official from office.

December 28 2013

Colombia: 60 Unfading Phrases of 2013

The blog Unfading phrases of Colombians [es] features the 60 unfading phrases of 2013 [es]. This an annual compilation, or from nationalwide events, such as football soccer [es].

The ongoing peace negotiation process held in Havana, Cuba, was among the topics of the selected phrases, as the one by Colombian comedian Ricardo Quevedo:

My sex life as the peace in Colombia, there is dialogue but nothing gets set.

Undoubtledly, the most talked about pharse was said by the country's president during the agrarian strike that started on August 19 and ended 21 days later: “The so called national agrarian strike doesn't exist” [es].

The orginal Spanish term “inmarcesible” (unfading) is used by the blog as a refrence to one of the verses of the Colombian national anthem.

December 10 2013

Bogotá Mayor Dismissed, Barred from Politics Over Imperfect Trash Collection

Bogotá's Mayor Gustavo Petro riding a waste collector truck, part of his 'Basura Cero' (Zero Trash) programme. Photo shared by Bogotá Humana on Flickr under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Bogotá's Mayor Gustavo Petro on a waste collector truck from his ‘Basura Cero’ (Zero Trash) programme. Photo shared by Bogotá Humana on Flickr under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Colombia's Inspector General Alejandro Ordóñez Maldonado announced through a press release [es] that his office dismissed Bogota's Mayor Gustavo Petro and banned him from public office for 15 years.

Though the decision did not come as a surprise for most Colombians, the reaction on social networks divided the country on these two controversial public figures: Ordóñez, 58, a staunch Catholic opposed to gay rights, abortion, and the current peace talks with FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) in Havana; and Petro, 53, a former guerrilla fighter of the M-19 group, praised for his combativeness as a Congressman and his social policies, but criticized for being populist and authoritarian as mayor of the country's capital.

The Inspector General's official YouTube account shared a video [es] of the announcement:

The incident for which Petro has been dismissed happened a year ago, when he decided not to renew the licences granted to private companies for rubbish collection, wishing to take back the service and promote recycling [es]. But garbage compacting trucks rented in the United States for the mayor's “Basura Cero” (zero trash) programme were still in customs and did not arrive on time. Over the course of three days, trash bags were all over the streets of the city. Eventually, Petro had to silently extend the licenses for three of the four private companies formerly responsible for waste collection, while at the same time contracting the public water company (Empresa de Acueducto y Alcantarillado de Bogotá, in Spanish) for some of the trash collection.

The inspector general believed that Petro “consciously” ordered “two companies without any experience, knowledge, and capacity” (the public water company and the spun-off entity “Aguas de Bogotá”) to pick up the rubbish, implemented an “unlawful” new model for trash collection breaking “the constitutional principles of free enterprise and competition,” decisions which Petro knew were “irregular,” and that he dealt with the emergency by using dumper trucks for trash collection, which is not allowed. The complete ruling has not been published yet.

Despite all this, many see the decision as political, given the opposite sides in which Ordóñez and Petro fall in the political spectrum. The severity of the ban contrasts with the mild sanction handed down to Petro's predecessor, Samuel Moreno Rojas, who was only suspended by Ordóñez for a corruption scandal (he would later be sent to prison).

On Twitter, user Daniel Arango praised Inspector General Ordóñez:

I've already said it and will always repeat it; Alejandro Ordóñez is the best public servant in Colombia. Standing ovation. #byePetro

But Juan Camilo Dávila regretted the decision:

In Colombia, being left-wing, winning an election and ruling as a left-wing politician has just been declared a disciplinary offence.

In 2010-2011 alone, the Office of the Inspector General disciplined [es] 302 mayors and 29 governors. The following year, it punished [es] 258 mayors, 177 town and city councillors, nine governors, five senators, two department deputies, and one legislator from the House of Representatives. As of November 2012, Ordóñez (in office since 2009 and re-elected through 2017) has imposed sanctions [es] on 22 congresspeople from political parties across the spectrum.

María Isabel Ángel questioned:

The Inspector General has for a long time dismissed many people elected by popular vote. Why does it bother you that he does that with Petro?

The discussion over the powers granted in the Constitution to the Inspector General has just begun [es]. Juan Manuel Reyes (@machecor) stated [es]:

La Procuraduría en las manos de Alejandro Ordóñez se ha convertido en una inquisición que busca a cual más imponer las visiones de su jefe, en vez de convertirse en el supuesto vigilante de la función pública.

The Inspector General's Office in the hands of Alejandro Ordóñez has become an inquisition eagerly seeking to impose the views of its boss, instead of becoming the supposed guardian of public service.

Andrés Segura made several points (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6):

1. Si un funcionario viola la ley, y toma decisiones que perjudican a la sociedad dolosamente, los órganos de control SI deben actuar.
2. El voto popular NO es un comodín que garantiza impunidad cuando se viola la ley.
3. Lo feo de lo de hoy es como los órganos de control se ensañan para beneficiarse políticamente y no ejercen su labor con todos.
4. “Mal de muchos consuelo de tontos”: Que haya muchos funcionarios que la embarren no quita que alguno deba ser castigado.
5. El uso político de los órganos de control es un pésimo antecedente para la democracia.
6. 15 años me parece desproporcionado. Y eso no es justificación para llamar a la “movilización social” así sea “pacífica”

1. If a public employee breaks the law, and intentionally makes decisions harmful to society, the regulatory bodies MUST act.
2. Popular vote IS NOT a wild card guaranteeing impunity when breaking the law.
3. The ugly thing about today is how regulatory bodies take advantage in order to profit politically and they don't do their job with everyone.
4. “Two in distress make sorrow less”: just because there are many public employees screwing up doesn't mean that someone shouldn't be punished.
5. The political use of regulatory bodies is a lousy precedent for democracy.
6. 15 years is disproportionate to me. And that's not a justification for calling for a “social mobilisation” even if it's “peaceful”

After claiming [es] that the decision was a “coup d'état”, Mayor Petro called people to support him by going to the Plaza de Bolívar in downtown Bogotá. Meanwhile, the building of the Inspector General's Office was closed and surrounded by the anti-riot police. Around 19:00, Petro made a speech [es] stating that his dismissal was arbitrary, relating it to the political participation of the left, and making allusions to Cairo's Tahrir Square.

User Rodolfo Otero uploaded Petro's speech [es] to YouTube:

Some users criticized the speech:

When Petro invites [people to turn] Plaza de Bolívar into Tahrir [Square], he's ignoring the same democracy which elected three consecutive left-wing mayors.

If Petro is dismissed by his guerrilla past, why has Antonio Navarro [former commandant and leader of guerilla group turned political party M-19] been able to complete his terms by popular vote?

But others supported it:

Strong speech by Petro. Necessary.

Petro called [es] for another mobilisation on 10 December, the day after his dismissal. He may remain in office while the ruling is appealed (before the same Inspector General), but he could also decide to defend himself out of office. It is not quite clear [es] if elections should be called, though it is the most likely scenario [es]. Petro's term was due to end 31 December 2015.

December 02 2013

New Museum in Medellín to Create Historic Memory About Colombia's Armed Conflict

The museum, the first in Colombia dedicated solely to the armed conflict, was designed as a space to reconstruct a history shrouded in violence and promote peaceful co-existence, according to [museum director Lucía] Gonzalez. “Remember to not repeat,” she said, is the guiding principle behind the museum.


“We think that art is a very powerful medium through which you can communicate with people and sometimes touch them in a more profound way than for example through intellectual or rational means,” said Gonzalez.

Philipp Zwehl writes about this new museum [es] in Colombia Reports.

November 25 2013

Love Doesn't Kill: Campaign Against Femicide in Colombia

Nataly Palacios es la mujer en cuyo homenaje se realiza la campaña: El amor no mata

Nataly Palacios is the woman being eulogized by the campaign: Love Doesn't Kill. Photo by Cati Restrepo.

[Links are to Spanish-language pages unless otherwise indicated.]

The death of Nataly Palacios Córdoba, a 23-year-old social worker who was murdered at the hands of her boyfriend, caused such shock among her friends and classmates that they decided to create the campaign 'El amor no mata’ [Love doesn't kill].

Nataly was killed on August 18, 2013, having just completed her university degree the previous March in the city of Medellín [en] in Colombia.

On August 20, the campaign was officially launch on Facebook, and from then on the page's administrators and followers began working on three fronts:

1. Selfies with the caption “Love doesn't kill”: Every contributor sent their picture with a message to the site, and the administrators published it.

2. Person of the week: the administrators selected and publicized a different woman's story every week.

3. Public action: campaign followers have participated in different demonstrations repudiating femicides.

To date the Facebook page has received more than 1,400 likes, and more than 200 faces bearing the tagline “Love doesn't kill” have been uploaded. 

Yo soy Isa y digo: El amor no mata.

“I am Isa and I say, “Love doesn't kill.” An example of the images the online community has sent to Facebook. Photo by Sara López Carmona.


I am Sara and I say, “Love doesn't kill.” Photo by Sara López Carmona shared on Facebook.

The group is also allied with two particular public demonstrations: Plantón Movimiento Mujeres de negro [a sit-in by Women In Black] and Plantón: Mujeres, que los hombres no nos maten en nombre del amor, [a women's sit-in against men who kill in the name of love].

More recently, the El amor no mata campaign joined forces with the ‘International butterfly migration Fluturi', which aims at generating awareness about the topic of femicides. 

Imagen de la jornada Fluturi realizada en el municipio de La Ceja a las afueras de la ciudad de Medellín.

Image of the Fluturi event that took place in the town of La Ceja outside Medellín. Photo by Sara López Carmona.

As a final note, we share the lyrics of what has become a hymn for women's movements in Colombia. [It is based on a popular children's song that begins with the words "rice pudding" and urges women to be dutiful wives.]

“We don't want any more rice pudding;

no more murdered women in this city.

Whoever killed them, whoever raped them,

these are hate crimes and nobody was looking.”

Today, is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women [en]. Rest in peace, Nataly.

Not one more death, nor one woman less. 

November 14 2013

PHOTOS: Humans of Latin America

“She laughed, laughed and laughed while she waited for inter-provincial transportation. Tiraque, Cochabamba”.
Photo by Mijhail Calle for Humans of Bolivia, used with permission.

Inspired by photographer Brandon Stanton's blog Humans of New York (HONY), professional and amateur photographers across the world have created blogs and Facebook pages where they collect images and stories of people from all walks of life –and Latin America has not been an exception.

Stanton's idea has inspired Latin American photographers who want to showcase their country or city through portraits of its diverse people.

This is a brief overview of some of the “Humans of…” projects in the region.

Humans of Buenos Aires

“Come and visit me whenever you want. I'm sorry I can't offer you mate [local beverage] but I have no place to heat up water.” Photo by Jimena Mizrahi, used with permission.

Freelance photographer Jimena Mizrahi started Humans of Buenos Aires in May 2012, and her Facebook page has attracted over 11,000 likes.

Her project also caught the attention of a city official, which resulted in the first Humans of Buenos Aires exhibition. The Argentina Independent reports that “the exhibition ‘Micro historias del Microcentro’ featured displays of portraits of individuals who live or work in the city’s central business district”.

Jimena told The Argentina Independent that she does Humans of Buenos Aires “not only because I simply love interacting with people, but because each of these interactions is a lesson. Every person is a world.”

“-I can't believe it! A woman cab driver!
-Of course, do you think that women can't be taxi drivers? It's time to stop being surprised when women do things that aren't common for their gender, there aren't things for men or women.”
Photo by Jimena Mizrahi, used with permission.

Humans of Colombia and Humans of Bogotá

“A Wayuu girl, daughter of a restaurant owner in Uribia.”
Photo by Gábor Szentpétery, used with permission.

Humans of Colombia was created by designer Maurent Roa and architect Gábor Szentpétery. During their travels the couple met Mauricio Romero, who has joined the project and contributed some photographs. While traveling, they also noticed that many people didn't know much about Colombia or had a negative perception of the country; with this project they aim to show a different side of Colombia.

“The idea is to represent Colombia through its people because ethnic diversity in Colombia is incredible. It is a mixture of Amerindians, Spanish and African descendants, and that's what we want to show the world,” Maurent explains.

“Carmen Lorena grew up on a coffee plantation estate about three hours from Bogotá, but she thinks the city life is not for her, she prefers the countryside where she will stay after finishing her studies.”
Photo by Mauricio Romero, used with permission.

“What is your perception of love, and your favorite way to love?”
-”I think that love is everything, it makes up everything that surrounds us and I'd say that my favorite way to love is…breathing”.
Photo by John Cardona, used with permission.

For more photos from Colombia, you can also visit Humans of Bogotá, a page created in August 2013 by John Cardona and Jonathan Arévalo.

John and Jonathan are motivated by the response they've received, and by the chance to meet new people and hear stories that they can show the world through their page. They say that this movement “shows how we can all identify with someone, no matter how far they live.”

“One wish?
-Safety in all of Bogotá.
-Tranquillity and peace”
Photo by John Cardona, used with permission.

Humans of Bolivia

“In Sipe Sipe – Cochabamba, the man said ‘take this abroad'. Then he began playing his charango.”
Photo by Mijhail Calle, used with permission.

Created on November 3, 2013, Humans of Bolivia is one of the newest Facebook pages to mirror Humans of New York in the region. Estelí Puente and Mijhail Calle want to create the same empathy they saw in the New York project and similar projects like Humans of Amsterdam, “the feeling that humanity is formed by individuals with their own stories.”

Although Mijhail takes most of the photographs, they are reaching out to other photographers who can share images from different parts of Bolivia. “This dynamic is also allowing us to create a space to share and discuss the role of the image and photography in the construction of our identities, so for now it looks like this will be more than a series of portraits. We want it to be a reason to reflect about ourselves,” Estelí explains.

“There are not many amauta women, it's hard to be one, but I am. Now I'm part of the union”.
Photo by Mijhail Calle, used with permission.

Humans of Honduras

“My biggest desire is for politicians to turn a blind eye to the colors of their parties, and for their focus to be solely on the betterment and unity of their country. This is the only way in which Honduras will be able to move forward.”
Photo by Claudia, used with permission.

Claudia Elvir and Daniela Mejía “invite you to get to know Honduras through its people” on their Facebook page Humans of Honduras.

Claudia started following Stanton's blog and was impressed by how he not only “captured impressive photographs, but also used them to capture the humanity behind each portrait, and how each photograph told a story that resonated in the hearts of the readers.”

Her friend Daniela conducts the interviews. Claudia and Daniela want to change the violent and negative image that the world has about Honduras, and they also want to change the way Hondurans see their own country.

Through their photographs and interviews, Claudia and Daniela hope to show that Honduras is a country “full of hard-working people, people with dreams, ambitions, joys and sorrows just like in every corner of the world.”

“I asked him to smile and very amiably he said, ‘I would like to, but in this job you have to be serious.’ and with that he demonstrated how appearances are deceiving.”
Photo by Claudia, used with permission.

Humans of Guatemala

“Slow but steady! Yes, it´s a long way to go, but I will make it.”
Photo by Elmer Alvarez, used with permission.

Elmer Alvarez had already been taking photographs of people around Guatemala before starting the Facebook page Humans of Guatemala in September 2013. Wendy Del Aguila, who now writes the captions, told Elmer about Humans of New York and he felt motivated to start a similar page about Guatemala.

Elmer and Wendy seek to capture “spontaneous moments of these extraordinary people reflecting their smile, passion, curiosity, hard work, shyness, kindness and most important their uniqueness!”

La Teacher-

La Teacher-”Let Your Smile Change The World”
Photo by Elmer Alvarez, used with permission

More “Humans of…” projects

“Every morning Don Pedro has opened his taqueria in this small village for two years. He has the usual clients and he gives out free tacos to all the minibus drivers who stop their minibus near his stand. “
Photo by Humans of Mexico, used with permission

The image above comes from Humans of Mexico, a page created in March 2010. Also from Mexico, Humans of Mexico City seeks to create a “photographic census of Mexico City. One street portrait at a time.”

Humans of Costa Rica, a page created in July of 2013, has more than 1,700 likes.

In Brazil, the Humans of Rio de Janeiro Facebook page is one of the most active in the region, and has over 9,000 likes.

Some Facebook pages -like Humans of Nicaragua, Humans of Panama, and Humans of Santiago, Chile- ask users to contribute photographs to the project. Others -like Humans of Quito, Humans of Lima, Humans of Peru, and Humans of Asunción- have been created less than a month ago.

Have we missed any “Humans of…” projects from South or Central America? Let us know in the comments!

November 13 2013

Justin Bieber's Graffiti Sparks Protests by Colombian Graffiti Artists

Photo shared by Justin Bieber on Instagram.

Photo shared by Justin Bieber on Instagram.

[All links lead to Spanish-language websites, unless otherwise noted.]

Hundreds of graffiti artists protested peacefully after learning that the police escorted [en] Canadian singer Justin Bieber so he could write graffiti under a bridge on 26th Avenue in Bogota, a forbidden area according to Decree 75 which regulates this practice within the city. Protesters remembered graffiti artist Diego Felipe Becerra, who was murdered [en] allegedly by a police officer [en] on August 19, 2011.

“Four bodyguards and a police caravan made up the squadron that accompanied Justin Bieber on the night of October 29, when, after the El Campin concert, an alien light illuminated his ‘new pastime': spraying walls,” as journalist Adriana Mejia describes what happened that night on the website Las 2 orillas:

Cuarenta metros de muro, en la 26, fueron justo lo que necesitaba para autografiar la ciudad: Justin Bieber. ¡Vaya arte! ¡Vaya intervención! ¡Vaya mensaje! ¡Vaya ego! Y vaya oso el de la Policía que no se atrevió a impedir que el muchacho caprichoso fungiera de pintor de ocasión mientras lograba conciliar el sueño. Menos mal lo protegieron, no fuera que algún patrullero despistado en asuntos de farándula lo hubiera tratado como a cualquier grafitero de vecino: de muy malas maneras, para no entrar en detalles. Y ahí sí, Bogotá hubiera hecho correr tinta en la prensa internacional.

Forty meters of a wall, on 26th Avenue, was just what he needed to autograph the city: Justin Bieber. What art! What an intervention! What a message! What an ego! And what an embarrassment from the police who didn't stop the spoiled boy from acting as the painter of the moment while he got sleepy. It's a good thing he was protected, lest a police officer distracted about celebrity affairs had treated him like any neighborhood graffiti artist: very badly, without getting into details. And surely, Bogota would have made every headline in the international press.

Many users on social media referred to the double standard the Bogota police showed. Juan Navidad asked:

What would happen if the police had shot Justin Bieber in the back for writing graffiti…?

On Facebook, graffiti artists have organized protests consisting of 24 hours of graffiti in different cities of the country to defend their rights as artists. The user Aldo Civico shares an image taken in Bogota: 

Awesome: 109 graffiti artists who are painting in Bogota on the same wall as @justinbieber @scooterbraun @juanes

Graffiti artists see this incident as a chance to stop being stigmatized, like ‘Don Popo', hip-hop artist and director of the Ayara Family Foundation, wrote for newspaper El Espectador:

El sentimiento de injusticia, de indignación, de rabia, se había transformado a medida que decantábamos las emociones, “la pelea no es contra Justin, ni contra la policía, lo que se genero fue una oportunidad para cambiar el estigma de vándalos y criminales sobre los graffiteros” “Justin quebró el florero de Llorente para nuestra revolución”… dijimos:

The feeling of injustice, indignation, and rage has been transformed by the pouring out of our emotions. “The fight isn't against Justin, nor against the police; what resulted was a chance to change the stigma of vandals and criminals surrounding graffiti artists.” We said: “Justin broke Llorente's vase [en, a historical act that accelerated Colombia's independence from Spain] for our revolution…”

Gustavo Trejos, the father of the murdered young man, asked for “more freedom so that young people can express their art. There are continual abuses against graffiti artists in the city: they watch them, they take them to a CAI (Immediate Attention Command [en]), they paint their skin, they beat them, and others, like our son, are murdered.”

But the singer's fans experienced their own battle and defended him on social networks:

[Justin only wanted to leave us a gift in Botogá] You had no right to erase the graffiti. Did the graffiti shoot you or something?

The user jack's broken heart gives the singer some credit:

Whether you like it or not, Justin Bieber revolutionized graffiti in Colombia. Incredible.

Meanwhile, 26th Avenue in Bogota has more than 700 graffiti works adorning the city, graffiti artists firmly insist that their art isn't vandalism, and Diego Felipe Becerra's parents continue to demand justice.

October 28 2013

PHOTOS: Muralists ‘Paint Resistance’ in Toribío, Colombia

Alumnos del CECIDIC. Foto compartida en Flickr por Minga de los Muralistas de los Pueblos, bajo licencia Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Students of CECIDIC. Photo shared on Flickr by Minga de los Muralistas de los Pueblos, under the Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The Center for Education, Training and Research for Integral Community Development [es] (CECIDIC) organized a “‘Minga‘ of Village Muralists” in the town of Toribío, in the Cauca department of Colombia, to “help create a different collective imagination for the community through art” and to “turn Toribío into a museum of outdoor art,” according to the event's Facebook page [es]. 

A minga (or minca) is a type of communal work done in favor of a community.

The majority of the population in the town of Toribío is of the indigenous Nasa, and has been one of the areas most affected by armed conflict in the country. CECIDIC is an educational and indigenous non-profit organization that works in the town of Toribío. 

“Neither the cold nor the rain scared off the Iskra team”. Photo shared by Minga de Muralistas de los Pueblos on Facebook.

From October 19 to 26 the minga united over 60 artists from Colombia and other parts of Latin America, such as Venezuela, Ecuador, Chile, and Mexico.

Photos of the minga have been shared on Flickr [es], Facebook [es], and Twitter [es], often with short comments like this one: 

Jafeth Gómez - Colectivo Cultural Wipala. Foto compartida por Minga de Muralistas de los Pueblos en Facebook.

Jafeth Gómez – Wipala Cultural Collective. Photo shared by Minga de Muralistas de los Pueblos on Facebook.

“La Minga de Muralistas es una oportunidad para que a través del arte se haga un llamado a los actores del conflicto armado para que asuman un compromiso de respeto hacia la población de Toribío”. Jafeth Gómez – Colectivo Cultural Wipala

“The Muralist Minga is an opportunity to make a call to the actors of the armed conflict through art so that they assume a commitment of respect towards the population of Toribío.” Jafeth Gómez – Wipala Cultural Collective

Mural en Toribio, Cauca. Foto compartida por Minga de Muralistas de los Pueblos en Facebook.

Mural in Toribío, Cauca. Photo shared by Minga de Muralistas de los Pueblos on Facebook.

“Our inspiration and motivation”. Photo shared by Minga de Muralistas de los Pueblos on Facebook.

Foto compartida en Flickr por Minga de Muralistas de los Pueblos, bajo licencia Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Agroecological School. Photo shared on Flickr by Minga de Muralistas de los Pueblos, under the Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Additionally, with the hashtag #MuralistasdelosPueblos [es] (#VillageMuralists), the group, artists, and other users that supported the minga have been sharing photos, videos, and messages:  

This way we regain our territory, our traditions, our customs, our life… 

Proud of the support and work of @lacasalibre in the Village Muralists Minga 

In Toribío we continue painting resistance.  

The photos of the murals can also been seen on the group's Instagram [es] page. 

Foto compartida por Minga de Muralistas de los Pueblos en Instagram.

Photo shared by Minga de Muralistas de los Pueblos on Instagram.

    House of Youth Movement

House of Youth Movement “Alvaro Ulcué”. Photo shared by Minga de Muralistas de los Pueblos on Instagram.

El aporte de 'Somos Muiscas'. Foto compartida por Minga de Muralistas de los Pueblos en Instagram.

Contribution from “Somos Muiscas”. Photo shared by Minga de Muralistas de los Pueblos on Instagram.

On YouTube, Minga de Muralistas de los Pueblos [es] have also shared various brief videos of the murals: 

On October 25, the day before the end of the minga, the group denounced [es] vandalism of the murals on Facebook and Twitter [es]: 

According to neighbors in Toribío, the military and police have taken advantage of nightly rounds to damage some of the works in the village 

On the last day of the minga, Mónica Hurtado shared her sentiments on Facebook [es]: 

7 dias despues………..y el color se apoderó de la arquitectura, de los espacios, de los niños, de los jovenes, del pueblo, de la esperanza y del amor por sembrar semillas de Paz!!

7 days later………..and color has taken over the architecture, the spaces, the children, the youth, the village, the hope and love of planting seeds of Peace!!

More than 100 photos of the minga can be seen in a photo album [es] shared by photographer Marialina Mavizu [es] on Facebook.

October 23 2013

16 Books on Latin American Street Art

In Latin America, street art is of major cultural relevance. The region’s traditions of social movements and revolution have allowed the form to give voice to otherwise unheard sectors of the population. Of course, not all street art is politically or socially-oriented in content, but it does often provide insight into specific objectives and ideals.

Nick MacWilliam from Sounds and Colours browsed the online store Amazon “to see what’s readily available for those who are interested in the subject of street art in Latin America.” He recommends 16 books on the subject, covering Haiti, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina and more.

October 22 2013

This Weekend at Developing Latin America 2013 Apps Challenge (Part I)


Photo from Desarrollando América Latina Facebook page.

This past weekend has been very productive for the Developing Latin America (#DAL2013) Apps Challenge; there was movement in person and on social networks in almost all locations of the participating countries. In this post we bring you a brief summary of what happened.

In México [es] they share some of the challenges they have raised and the activities they have organized to find solutions: 

#DAL2013 challenge about education in Mexico, children's rights and more.

Challenge ‘Infancy Counts': Visualizes the state of infancy in Mexico.

Video: Data expedition with @Mexicanos1o for #DAL2013

#DAL2013 Challenge: Information about quality and service in health clinics. Have you picked yours?

#DAL2013 Challenge: Help youth identify risky situations that can turn them into victims of trafficking.

Participants in Guatemala [es] have shown their excitement about a series of scheduled conferences:

Saturday conferences begin.

Socio-technical network of a flexible screen

“Ideas are easy to copy; business ideas, socio-technical ideas are harder” Alvaro Figueredo

The project has to take on a life of its own and have momentum to keep going- Javier Álvarez

The presentation on civic hacking is available here –>

Civic hackers from Costa Rica [es] took some time off this weekend, but the previous weekend they held their hackathon:

Experts co-creating with participants. In Costa Rica #DAL2013 has just begun!

24 hours later, 10 teams, 34 young people, a lot of talent.

A lot has happened at #DAL2013 Do you want to learn about the hackathon in Costa Rica?

#DAL2013 Costa Rica winners awarded by President Laura Chinchilla

@nacion brings us an article about all the winning teams of Developing Latin America Costa Rica 2013

Colombia [es] also held its hackathon earlier:

@williamgomezg presents #mochilapp projects, health and technology, political oversight. Great ideas!

@TheColombist presents this interesting project #RutaCiudadana

@sibcolombia shows for the first time their dynamic and open app to explore georeferenced data

Colombia also develops solutions at #DAL2013

Hackers and other specialists in Ecuador [es] are working towards Demo Day on October 26, but they've also been sharing some tweets about their activities:

#DAL2013 kicks off in Ecuador at ESPAE, Espol Campus Las Peñas

Ecuador seeks to find solutions to problems related to transportation, environment, democracy, health and education.

Complete integration between participants at DAL Ecuador

Awards at DAL Ecuador are being presented, thanks to @McDonalds_Ecu

We thank Santa María University for hosting the data scraping event last night.

And in Peru [es] there's been a lot of activity in the past two weekends, with the hashtags #datamaskay (data search) and #dataminka (work with data) becoming quite popular on Twitter:

#DAL2013 throughout October! [month of hackathons, earthquakes and miracles!] > @IPAE_Innova and @escuelab invite you!

Solutions are found in open data. In Peru ideas become solutions!

We have data! Latest poll about corruption 2013

Ideas discussed at #dataminka!

Once participants decided which app would be ideal to develop, they debated which resources they will use.

In the next post we will continue reporting about activities in the other countries participating in Developing Latin America 2013!

October 16 2013

Video: Colombian Artists Sing in Solidarity With Farmers

Image from music video. Photo shared by Papa con Yuca on Facebook

Image from music video. Photo shared by Papa con Yuca on Facebook. Used with permission.

Colombian artists have come together to show their support for farmers who held a nation-wide strike to protest the government's agricultural policies.

Although protests stopped after the government and farmers established national negotiation tables in September, the farmers’ struggle for land rights continues.

As Global Voices contributor Robert Valencia explained in the World Policy blog, “the farmers complain that free-market reforms in Colombia have made their lives harder.”

In particular, they blame their current plight on the recently signed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States and other similar agreements with countries like Canada in recent years.


Although Colombia’s economy has grown steadily over the last decade, rural households are three times less likely to generate the same income as average urban households. Most of the campesinos (Spanish for peasants) demand cheap fertilizers and other agrarian products, cheap credits from the Agrarian Bank, and the democratization of land ownership.

A group of artists under the name Papa con Yuca (“Potato with Yuca“) wrote a song about the farmers’ struggle and shared it on YouTube:

The blog Rythm & Roots wrote about the video and the Papa con Yuca initiative:

While the government recently came to an agreement with the farm leaders, the protests have brought the issue of land rights disputes back to the forefront. Though not gaining the same level of global media coverage as similar movements in Turkey and Brazil, the Colombian protests have stood out for their universality. The movement evolved from a farmers demonstration into a nationwide call for change. Much as the students stood next to the farmers on the picket lines, a group of musicians, artists, video producers and bloggers came together to add their voice to the multitudes with #YoQuieroPapaConYuca.

The post continues:

The project celebrates Colombia’s rich agricultural tradition and remains as a reminder that, though the protests are over for now, the pressure for change still exists. In the words of Yo Quiero Papa con Yuca:

No hay tiempo para cambiar mañana. Cambiemos hoy!!!

There is no time to change tomorrow, let’s change today!!!

On Twitter Colombians are sharing the video and voicing their solidarity with the farmers with the hashtag #yoquieropapaconyuca:

Because I prefer families starting to become self-sufficient rather than a bunch of transgenic packages on cupboards

The strike continues. Colombia resists. The farmer protests. The politician manipulates.

It means protesting about the issues affecting Colombian farmers peacefully.

For the dignity of the Colombian farmers and for our own dignity.

Art as a tool to rescue our local resources.

You can follow Papa con Yuca on Twitter [es] and Facebook [es].

October 14 2013

Colombia's Problem with Urban Inequality

The government has puts lots of emphasis, understandably, on Bogotá's economic growth and claimed reductions in poverty. But according to data from the United Nations Bogotá is failing on another important measure: Economic Equality.

A recent U.N. study, reported in El Tiempo, found that Colombia was the country which most increased its urban inequality during the past two decades. Bogotá was the region's most unequal capital city. And of the 13 Colombian cities studied by the U.N., all increased their levels of economic inequality, according to the study.

In “The Inequality Trap”, Mike's Bogotá Blog analyses how the results from this U.N. study could relate to some of Colombia's social problems.

October 04 2013

Open Screenplay Competition at the Barranquilla Creative Commons Film Festival

free screenplay competition CC

Can you make a short film in one month?

The next Creative Commons Film Festival [es] in Colombia will have a display of creativity thanks to a short film competition based on open screenplays.

The festival is scheduled to take place in the city of Barranquilla from October 23-26, 2013.

Organizers invite producers and fans of audiovisual works to make a production based on one of the five screenplays under a Creative Commons license which are hosted on the festival website [es]:

Buscando ampliar la cantidad y variedad de productos audiovisuales libres, este año durante el Tercer Festival de Cine Creative Commons estaremos llevando a cabo el experimento #guioneslibres en el cual un grupo de 5 guionistas han escrito y liberado con licencia Creative Commons varios guiones para ser producidos y realizados por diversos equipos audiovisuales a nivel mundial.

Looking to increase the amount and variety of free audiovisual content, this year during the third Creative Commons Film Festival we will be carrying out the #guioneslibres [#openscreenplays] experiment, in which a group of five screenplay writers have written and freely made several screenplays available through a Creative Commons license to be produced and performed by a diverse audiovisual team on a global scale.

The Colombian Association of University Communications Departments and Programs (abbreviated as AFACOM in Spanish) posted a note about the competition [es] where they explain how the Creative Commons licenses work:

¿Creative commons?
Las licencias Creative Commons son unas licencias de derechos de autor más flexibles que el Copyright. El autor determina qué usos se le pueden dar a su obra, permitiendo una mayor flexibilidad al momento de difundir sus contenidos. Gracias a estas licencias han sido posibles la aparición de nuevos modelos de producción y distribución de contenidos, donde el autor y el público cobran protagonismo al reducirse los intermediarios.

What are Creative Commons licenses?
Creative Commons licenses are a group of licenses which are rights given by an author and are more flexible than a Copyright. An author determines what uses are permissible for his or her work, allowing for more flexibility when works are disseminated. Thanks to these licenses, new ways of production and distribution of works are possible, where the author and the audience become more important as the middleman is eliminated.

In the festival [es] website they explain the idea behind the open screenplay competition:

#GuionesLibres es un sencillo experimento, una forma de entender las nuevas lógicas de la creación audiovisual colectiva sin más pretensiones que mostrar que en la actualidad la creatividad no tiene que ver con fronteras.

#GuionesLibres is a simple experiment, a way of understanding the logic of collective audiovisual works with no more pretensions than to show that these days creativity has no limits.

They also share the competition methodology:

Photo of festiccbquilla on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Photo of festiccbquilla on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Antes de la fecha límite marcada los realizadores o grupos de realizadores deben enviar a organizadores el link en Youtube o Vimeo donde visualizar su cortometraje o enviar el mismo por al email junto con los siguientes datos:
- Nombre guión escogido.
- Director: Nombre, dirección, teléfono, celular, email.
- Productor: Nombre, dirección, teléfono, celular, email.
- Información de Integrantes del equipo realizador con sus cargos y listado de créditos completo.
 - Créditos de obras musicales, fotografías o cualquier otro contenido licenciado con Creative Commons usado en la realización del cortometraje.

Before the deadline noted, the producers or groups of producers should send to organizers the link on Youtube or Vimeo where their short film may be seen or send it through to the email together with the following information:
- Name of screenplay chosen.
- Director: Name, address, phone, cell phone, email.
- Producer: Name, address, phone, cell phone, email.
- Information about members of the production team with their responsibilities and list of complete credits.
 - Credits for musical acts, photographs or any other content licensed under Creative Commons used in the production of the short film.

And they reveal the prizes that the winners will receive:

Primer Puesto Categoría Internacional: 1 Cámara Go Pro Hero 3 + Diploma de Primer Puesto + Merchandising del Festival.
Primer Puesto Categoría Nacional: 1 Cámara Go Pro Hero 3 + Diploma de Primer Puesto  + Merchandising del Festival.
Primer Puesto Categoría Local: 1 Cámara Go Pro Hero 3 + Diploma de Primer Puesto  + Merchandising del Festival.  

First Place International Category: 1 Go Pro Hero 3 Camera + First Place Diploma + Festival Merchandize.
First Place National Category: 1 Go Pro Hero 3 Camera + First Place Diploma  + Festival Merchandize.
First Place Local Category: 1 Go Pro Hero 3 Camera + First Place Diploma  + Festival Merchandize.  

As Angie Cabrera from Barranquilla says, the call is international:

You don't necessarily have to be in Barranquilla to participate, producers from any part of the world are invited!

You can follow news about the festival and the competition on Twitter [es] and on Facebook [es].

The deadline to send short films is this coming October 13th.

Come on and participate!

September 27 2013

Developing Latin America 2013: An ‘Apps Challenge’ for Social Impact


“Developing Latin America”

Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente is about to launch a new edition of their regional initiative entitled Developing Latin America [es], which brings together the efforts of developers, social specialists, and others to use open data to create applications that serve the Latin American community. In their own words [es]:

Impulsamos aplicaciones innovadoras, sustentables, escalables y de alto impacto social. Celebramos a la comunidad de emprendedores, tecnólogos, desarrolladores y diseñadores, desafiándolos a trabajar en conjunto con sus gobiernos y organizaciones locales para co-crear soluciones que generen un cambio positivo para los ciudadanos. Fomentamos una cultura de creatividad, innovación y emprendimiento en América Latina.

We promote innovative, sustainable, and scalable applications with a high social impact. We celebrate the community of entrepreneurs, technologists, developers and designers, challenging them to work together with their governments and local organizations to co-create solutions that generate a positive change for citizens. We foster a culture of creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship in Latin America.

For its third edition, Developing Latin America (DAL) is transforming and is going from being a Hackathon to what they call an Apps Challenge, meaning a longer event with the goal of developing better ideas, obtaining more concrete solutions, and, as such, achieving applications that are more sustainable and scalable.

But, what is an Apps Challenge? [es]

Un Apps Challenge es una competencia entre aplicaciones. En el caso de DAL, es una competencia colaborativa que se realizará a lo largo de tres intensas semanas de desarrollo. Esta etapa está diseñada para dotar a los equipos de las herramientas que permitan desarrollar una aplicación innovadora y disruptiva. Realizaremos varias actividades con el objetivo de generar aplicaciones de alto impacto social.

An Apps Challenge is a competition between applications. In the case of DAL, it is a collaborative competition that will be held over the course of three intense weeks of development. This stage is designed to give teams the tools that will allow for the development of an innovative and disruptive application. Various activities will take place with the goal of generating applications of high social impact.


“Let's share idea and work together to develop Latin America!”

DAL officially launches on October 5 of this year, and we say officially because in reality the coordination of DAL and the different teams in charge of the event in the participating countries (now 12) have been working on preparing for it for several weeks. In fact, each team has planned various activities [es] to take place in their country during the month of October and, on October 26, there will be a Demo Day in addition to the selection of the three best applications per country.

But that is not all. After this phase, in association with Socialab, a project accelerator specialized in high impact social projects, will choose five teams among the winners to build up their projects for three months, helping them construct a business plan and find funding, among other things:

  • Co-creación “en terreno” con sus potenciales usuarios y clientes.
  • Definición de áreas de impacto que el proyecto tendrá en la sociedad, estos son co-creados con la comunidad y usuarios en trabajos en terreno.
  • Capacitarse en metodología de innovación y emprendimiento (Lean Start-Up, Canvas Business Model, Design Thinking, etc.)
  • Búsqueda de financiamiento para la sustentabilidad de sus proyectos a través de distintos medios: inversionistas, crowdfundings, fondos concursables, entre otros.
  • Generación de redes con distintos actores relevantes para el proyecto.
  • Planes comunicacionales y financieros elaborados.
  • Co-creation “in the field” with their potential users and clients.
  • Definition of areas of impact that the project will have in society, these are co-created with the community and users in field work.
  • Training in innovation and entrepreneurship (Lean Start-up, Canvas Business Model, Design Thinking, etc.)
  • Finding funds for sustainability of their projects through various means: investors, crowd funding, competitive funds, among others.
  • Generating networks with various stakeholders relevant to the project.
  • Elaborating communication and financial plans.

To learn a bit more about what DAL will be like this year and familiarize ourselves with the Apps Challenge process, our collaborator, Elizabeth Rivera, met with Anca Matioc, Regional Coordinator of Developing Latin America. Below is a video [es] of the interview:

In the interview, Matioc expanded on DAL's decision to go from a Hackathon, typically 36 hours, to an Apps Challenge, which will span a period of three weeks. As a response to DAL's growth over the past two years, Matioc highlighted the desire to have participants go beyond making prototypes for applications by giving them the opportunity to create more efficient and finished apps for social change. With the Apps Challenge, which she described as an “extended hackathon”, each of the twelve participating countries will have its own agenda of activities and workshops, culminating in the Demo Day and Socialab nominations. Currently, DAL is continuing its preparations for the event and meeting with its stakeholders to discuss their roles as mentors for each team of participants.

DAL has already generated interest in the region. For example, ALT1040 reports on the event and says [es]:

Este tipo de programas son ideales para impulsar pequeñas startups que pretenden resolver problemas comunes de la región. Lo interesante es que las aplicaciones pueden estar enfocadas tanto en solucionar un problema de tu país como hasta solucionar uno de Latinoamérica en su totalidad. Un reflejo de que podemos y queremos cambiar el mundo en el que vivimos, aunque tengamos que hacerlo una aplicación a la vez.

These types of programs are ideal for inspiring small startups seeking to resolve common problems in the region. The interesting thing is that the applications can be focused on solving a problem in your country as well as solving one in Latin America as a whole. A reflection on the idea that we can and want to change the world we live in, even if we have to do it one application at a time.

El Becario from the Código Espagueti blog reflects [es]:

Sin duda, un gran reto para países en los que no todos tienen un smartphone o una tableta, aún así se trata de un gran esfuerzo que bien podría ayudar a mejorar las condiciones de vida en la región.

Without a doubt, a big challenge for countries where not everyone has a smartphone or tablet; still, it is a great initiative that could really help improve living conditions in the region.

If you are a developer and are interested not only in a professional challenge but simultaneously having the opportunity to help solve social problems in your city or country, such as education, health, public safety, and transportation, among others, you can sign up [es] until October 4 and participate in this event on a regional level.

On our behalf, we will be providing coverage of the details of this great initiative.

Other related posts:

Developing Latin America – 30 hours of technology and society [es]
“Developing Latin America”: Open Data Projects

Developing Latin America 2012
What Exactly is a Hackathon? And What is Open Data?
Developing Latin America Draws Near!
Day 1 of Developing Latin America 2012
Day 2 of Developing Latin America 2012
Winning Applications From Latin America's Biggest Hackathon

September 23 2013

Social Media Week Discusses Principles for a Collaborative World


Follow @socialmediaweek on Twitter or the hashtags for the event: #SMW13 (general), #SMWBerlin#SMWBog (Bogota), #SMWChicago#SMWLDN (London), #SMWLA (Los Angeles), #SMWMumbai#SMWSP (São Paulo), #SMWTo (Toronto).

Social Media Week, a worldwide event which ”brings people, brands and organizations together to explore how we connect and communicate as a society”, starts today, September 23, 2013.

In the second edition of this year's global conference, with the cities of Berlin, Bogotá, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai, São Paulo and Toronto as hosts, more than 1,000 events are expected to take place ”exploring the social, cultural and economic impact of social media”.

The global theme that marks the fifth year of Social Media Week is “Open & Connected: Principles for a collaborative world”.

Related post on Global Voices - Italy: Social Media Week in Milan and Worldwide (2010)

September 19 2013

Global Voices Partners with InfoAmazonia

A new form of visualization of Global Voices stories about the Amazon rainforest is now available in the shape of a map of the website Through the established content partnership, Info Amazonia's special interactive map is being updated with the latest citizen media stories by Global Voices about the Amazon in English, Portuguese and Spanish.

The platform, a project by Internews and Brazilian environmental website O Eco [pt], was launched in June 2012 at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. It intends to “help broaden the understanding of the global impact of this important region in the world” by aggregating articles and data on the environmental changes in the Amazon rainforest:

InfoAmazonia logo. Follow them on Twitter for updates: @InfoAmazonia.

Follow InfoAmazonia on Twitter for updates: @InfoAmazonia.

InfoAmazonia provides timely news and reports of the endangered Amazon region. A network of organizations and journalists deliver updates from the nine countries of the forest. The data used will always be freely available for download and will be renewed frequently. The comparison between stories and data aims to improve public’s perception of issues in the Amazon region.

The Amazon region is one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, keeping in check climate change by absorbing CO2. Yet in the light of its importance, the region has faced acute environmental challenges.

As Global Voices reported in the special coverage page Forest Focus: Amazon created for the United Nations International Year of Forests (2011):

In the Amazon rainforest region, deforestation impacts around 30 million people and 350 indigenous and ethnic groups. Yet the Amazon, and other forests like it, are fast-becoming major casualties of civilization as growing human populations increasingly threaten these important biomes.

A platform to serve the community

“Use us as a tool”, Project Coordinator and Knight International Journalism Fellow Gustavo Faleiros told Global Voices team when offering to serve the citizen media community in terms of maps and visualization of data in the Amazon:

We want to be your desk of maps and visualization.

We took on the challenge and invited InfoAmazonia to draw us a map with the boundaries of Amazonia Legal for a Global Voices story from last July about the approval of a bill in Brazil that has opened the door to the cultivation of sugar cane for the first time in that area, which comprises the geographical regions of the Amazon forest, the tropical savanna Cerrado, and the swamp land Pantanal.

Five more Global Voices stories have already been mapped in the InfoAmazonia platform since June, representing a step forward for our community on data journalism from Latin America.

InfoAmazonia invites anyone to participate by sharing data, stories and geographic coordinates through the website's submission tool. Existing maps, organized by publisher or categories such as protected areas and indigenous lands, deforestation, oil & gas, among others, can also be embedded in other pages using a sharing widget.

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