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February 25 2014

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February 11 2014

International Open Data Day Set for February 22

Bloggers, hackers, designers, statisticians and other citizens who are interested in Open Data and Transparency will gather online and offline for the International Open Data Day on February 22, 2014. The event takes place to encourage governmental data openness.

Open Data Day is a gathering of citizens in cities around the world to write applications, liberate data, create visualizations and publish analyses using open public data to show support for and encourage the adoption open data policies by the world's local, regional and national governments.

Anyone can organize a local event in their city as long as the event is open for others to join. The attendees can participate in creating anything related to Open Data, be it with local or global applications, visualizations, scraping data from a government website to make it available for others or even organize a series of workshops with government officials, journalists or other stakeholders affected by open data.

The hashtag that will be used for the even is, #ODD2014. Some Twitter users have already started posting their comments on the hashtag.

Dozens of cities are participating in the hackathon.

International Open Data Hackathon

International Open Data Hackathon

Announcements are also made on Twitter for local events in different places.

The Open Data Day in Egypt,

Add your city to the list if it is not already there, and start planning for a local event there.

January 23 2014

Vargas Llosa's ‘Conversation in The Cathedral', 140 Characters at a Time

The anonymous Twitter user behind the handle @EnLaCatedral is determined to share [es] the whole content of “Conversation in the Cathedral“, a novel by Literature Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, 140 characters at a time. The novel by the Peruvian author begins with these words republished by @EnLaCatedral:

FROM THE entrance of [newspaper] La Crónica, Santiago looks at Tacna Avenue, loveless: automobiles, uneven and washed out buildings


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 18 2014

Peru and Chile Await The Hague's Decision on Maritime Border Dispute


Map presented by Alain Pellet in the case of Peru – Chile during oral arguments before the International Court of Justice in the Hague in December 2012. [The dark blue zone indicates the contentious area.] Published in Wikimedia under the license: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

[Links are to Spanish-language pages except where otherwise noted.]

The upcoming date on which the International Court of Justice [en] (ICJ) in The Hague is set to deliver its judgment regarding the controversy surrounding maritime boundaries between Chile and Peru [en] is generating tremendous expectations and anxiety in both countries. 

The controversy originated as long ago as 1985 in a dispute over maritime sovereignty [en] of a 37,900 km² area in the Pacific Ocean. In 2008, when the parties were still unable to come to an agreement, Peru took its case to the International Court in the Hague in the hopes of having the issue resolved. The Court announced it would deliver its ruling on January 27, 2014.

In 2008, the Peruvian economist and blogger Silvio Rendón commented that by instigating the lawsuit, Peru was signalling a new level of dissatisfaction in its relations with its neighbour to the south, and that this would only foster a climate of increased nationalism in both countries:

Lo más probable es que con este reclamo ante La Haya el Perú como Chile radicalicen su carrera armamentista y las escaramuzas de guerra fría que venimos librando desde hace años. Se trata de chispas que pueden calentar lo que ahora está frío. [...] Si oficialmente no estamos en guerra, ¿por qué se habla de hacer la paz? Es que sí estamos en una guerra, una guerra fría (ver Guerra Perú-Chile) que debería terminar ya. Lo diré una vez más. El camino del Perú debería ser el del crecimiento, no el del armamentismo (ver Triángulo equivocado y Ad “Triángulo Equivocado”). Perú tiene el 10% del PIB per cápita de EEUU y Chile tiene 20%. Deberíamos estar concentrados en mejorar el bienestar de nuestras ciudadanías y el camino a ese objetivo no pasa por la propiedad del triángulo marítimo.

It is likely that with this claim before The Hague, both Peru and Chile will intensify the arms race and the cold war skirmishes they have been waging for years. We are talking about sparks that could ignite something that, for the moment, is cold. [...] If we are not officially at war, why are we talking about making peace? It's because we are indeed at war, a cold war (see Guerra Perú-Chile) that must end now. I will say it one last time. The road Peru takes should be one of development, not stockpiling (see Triángulo equivocado and Ad “Triángulo Equivocado”). Peru's per capita GDP is 10% of that of the U.S. and Chile's is at 20%. We should be focussing on improving the wellbeing of our citizens and the road to that objective is not paved with proprietary wrangling over the maritime triangle.

Currently, beyond the legal arguments on which each country has based its position, there are those such as El Drac of the blog El Abrazo de Almanzor, who see abuse and manipulation of the claim by powerful interests who have the support of certain sectors of the press. Moreover, the blogger mentions the economic implications of the dispute :

Pese a que ambos países han insistido en que la resolución del tribunal internacional no afectará a sus relaciones comerciales, los empresarios chilenos han expresado su preocupación por el impacto que podría tener en la industria pesquera. [...] En el caso de que el fallo resultara favorable a la tesis peruana se registraría un impacto en el área pesquera chilena, ya que Chile perdería soberanía sobre una amplia zona marítima en la cual hoy desarrolla entre el 70% y 80% de la captura pesquera en la norteña zona de Arica, según estimaciones empresariales.

Despite the fact that both countries insist the decision by the International Court will not affect their trade relations, Chilean business leaders have expressed their concern about the potential impact on the fishing industry. [...] If the ruling favours Peru's contention, this will affect Chilean fishing, as the the country will lose control of a wide stretch of sea which today accounts for 70-80% of the catch in the Northern Arica zone, according to industry estimates.

The website Otra Mirada emphasizes that defence of Peruvian sovereignty has ensured a degree of national unity in the country, but it also raises the question of what the agenda for immediate economic development should be. To which it adds:

El fallo de La Haya definirá, entonces, un nuevo panorama en el país, por lo cual, se debe preparar una agenda de Estado que incluya temas fundamentales como: 1. Definir rol de las Fuerzas Armadas en la defensa de nuestra seguridad y soberanía en la etapa post La Haya. 2. Establecer una política de desarrollo del sector pesquero en esta zona del país. 3. Establecer acciones inmediatas sobre la situación laboral de los chilenos que viven en el Perú y los peruanos que viven en Chile. 4.Promover un plan de inversión pública en las regiones Tacna y Moquegua a favor de la integración sudamericana. 5.Definir políticas de integración económico – social y cultural con nuestros vecinos fronterizos.

The Hague's verdict will, therefore, determine a new outlook for the country, for which a  national agenda must be set, one that includes fundamental issues like: 1. Defining the role of the Armed Forces in our national security and sovereignty in the post-Hague phase. 2. Establishing a development policy for the fisheries industry in that area of the country. 3. Taking immediate actions regarding the situation of Chilean labourers in Peru and Peruvians who live in Chile. 4. Promoting a public investment program in the Tacna and Moquegua regions that favours South Amercian integration. 5. Formulate socioeconomic and cultural integration policies with our neighbours.

Meanwhile, as predicted by Silvio Rendón, there has been a recent upsurge in nationalism, evident in former President Alan García's proposal that the flag be raised outside homes and offices across Peru on January 27, the day when the International Court in The Hague will finally come down on one side or the other of the dispute. This has generated controversy, as the call was rejected by Peru's governing party and a number of Chilean politicians. However, García has defended his proposal, which was well received in other quarters, namely some of the country's provinces and districts.

Peru also felt the impact of the meeting that Chilean President Sebastián Piñera held with his National Security Council to analyze the potential repercussions of the ICJ decision.  Afterwards, and in the face of criticism by certain Chilean politicians, the country's Minister of the Interior, Andrés Chadwick, declared that the meeting “did not point to a situation of a military or bellicose nature.” 

Nevertheless, Chile's digital newspaper El Mostrador published information in July of 2013 about military preparations in both Chile and Peru in anticipation for an adverse decision by the ICJ or a situation in which one of the two countries refused to comply. More recently, the Peruvian pro-military blogger Report Perú publicized alleged early warning measures by the Peruvian Armed Forces. 

There are fewer than 10 days to go before the judgment by the International Court of Justice in The Hague; so many things could still happen, and rumours and controversy are sure to continue to abound. But one valid reflection was made by the lawyer Francisco Canaza on his blog Apuntes Peruanos, referring to a prior ruling by the ICJ regarding the territorial and maritime dispute between Colombia and Nicaragua [en], which resulted in Colombia not recognizing the Court's decision and withdrawing from the Pacto de Bogotá, a treaty whose signatories [a majority of Latin American countries] are obliged to resolve their conflicts through pacific means, awarding jurisdiction to the ICJ:

sin ser el caso Peru – Chile ante la Corte Internacional de Justicia de La Haya un proceso similar al de Nicaragua – Colombia, ¿Chile podría, como Colombia, denunciar (retirarse) del Pacto de Bogotá y así evitar la ejecución de un fallo “no ajustado a derecho”?

Although Peru – Chile, now before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, is not necessarily similar to the case of Nicaragua – Colombia, could Chile, like Colombia, denounce (withdraw from) the Pacto de Bogotá [en] and thereby avoid enforcement of a ruling that is “not consistent with the law”?

Post originally published on Juan Arellano's blog Globalizado.

January 10 2014

Latin America's Black Metal Fans, Punks and Otakus

Santiago, Lima, Mexico City and Oaxaca have been some of the cities in which photographer Carla Mc-Kay has photographed punks, thrashers, transvestites, black metal fans, new waves and otakus, recording their everyday lives in their habitat.

Sentidos Comunes has published Carla Mc-Kay's photographs in a photo essay titled “Street Youth” [es].

January 09 2014

Peruvian Volunteer Firefighters Fight More than Just Fire

During the first 24 days of December 2013 alone, the General Corps of Volunteer Firefighters of Peru [es] took care of 454 fires in Lima, Callao and Ica.

One of the most serious fires occurred on Tuesday, December 10, 2013, in a tire warehouse in the Limean district of La Victoria, which was extinguished after hours of hard work by the firefighters. About this, the blog Prensarte reported [es]:

Luego que el jefe departamental de Lima [...] denunció que empleadores de tres bomberos de la compañía 115 de Chaclacayo los despidieron por ausentarse de sus centros de labores mientras atendían el incendio en la av. Nicolás Arriola en La Victoria, El jefe de Comunicaciones de la Compañía [...] rectificó que se trataba de la preocupación de varios bomberos que sentían sus puestos de trabajo amenazados y que así se lo comentaron.

Por su parte, León, aclaró horas después reincorporaron en sus trabajos a los bomberos denunciantes quienes no quisieron identificarse para evitar más problemas con ellos.

After the Lima departmental chief [...] claimed that employers of three firefighters of Unit 115 from Chaclacayo were fired for being absent from their jobs while they were fighting the fire at Nicolás Arriola Avenue in La Victoria, the Head of Communications Office of the unit [...] rectified it was the concern of many firefighters who felt their jobs were at stake and they let him know that.

Meanwhile, León explained that hours later the fired men were reinstated in their jobs, and that they didn't want their names to be known to avoid having problems.

The so called “men in red” prevent, control and put out fires, assist with car accidents and emergencies, and rescue threatened lives, all on a voluntarily basis, meaning they don't receive any payment for their services.

As early as November 2012, the blog Nuevo Reporte presented [es] “the sad reality faced by the General Corps of Volunteer Firefighters of Peru”:

Desde hace varios años, se vienen detectando fallas en los equipos antiquísimos con los que cuenta para hacer su denodada labor los muy pocas reconocidos Bomberos Voluntarios del Perú. Pues, los equipos son inutilizables debido a averías, roturas e ineficiencias presentadas en el momento que más se necesitan, al salvar vidas.

For years now, several flaws have been detected in the ancient equipment used to carry out the dauntless labor by the barely appreciated Volunteer Firefighters of Peru. Thus, their equipment is hardly usable due to breakdowns, tears and defects that appear when they are most needed, when saving lives.

Furthermore, website Sin sentido reviews part of the history [es] of Peruvian firefighters and explains their current situation:


Photo by user ms. akr on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Actualmente, si bien sus miembros trabajan ad honorem – a diferencia de lo que sucede en otros países – el Cuerpo de Bomberos es un organismo descentralizado que depende de la Presidencia del Consejo de Ministros y cuenta con un presupuesto para compra de materiales, equipos y mantenimiento de unidades. Sin embargo, muchas de sus compañías se encuentran en pésimo estado, [...] [lo que] ha dificultado su trabajo, no obstante los bomberos mantienen su espíritu en alto y cada vez son más los jóvenes que desean ser parte del servicio voluntario. [...] Recuerden que los bomberos siempre están prestos a atender todo tipo de emergencias las 24 horas del día, por lo que deberíamos ayudarlos a que hagan mucho mejor su labor :)

Today, although members work pro bono –unlike other counties– the Firefighters Corps is a decentralized organ dependent of the Presidency of the Cabinet of Ministers and has a budget for purchasing material, equipment and units maintenance. However, many of their units are in a lousy condition [...] [and this] has complicated their work; nevertheless, the firefighters keep their spirits high and each time there are more and more young people who want to be part of the volunteer service. [...] Keep in mind that the firefighters are always ready to take care of all kind of emergencies, 24 hours a day, so we should help them carry out their tasks in a much better way :)

As told by the website Doug Copp's Blog, there were Peruvian volunteer firefighters in the rescue efforts in New York immediately after the 9/11 attacks:

My name is Efrain Huaman Carrion and I am a volunteer firefighter in Peru. I’m part of the International American Rescue Team. [...] I volunteered at the World Trade Center after the attacks on the Twin Towers.
When the attacks happened, I didn’t think twice about coming to help but I couldn’t get a flight. I was finally able to buy a ticket to come help my brother firefighters and police.

On Twitter, users expressed their appreciation for the firefighters’ work, many times hindered because of the daily needs they face and for various administrative hindrances:

A special New Year's greeting for the volunteer firefighters of Peru, who take daily risks for all of us. THANKS!!

Peruvian firefighters – the new Peruvians.

“We admire the firefighters’ spirit of service”.

How did [Peruvian] firefighters celebrate New Year's?

Firefighters took care of 54 fires and 23 car accidents on New Year's: the General Corps of Firefighters took care of 54 fires…

Lastly, newspaper Diario16 tweets:

National Congress proposes a life annuity for firefighters.

January 01 2014

Peru: The Most Popular on Social Networks

The blog Ú presents the list of the ten Peruvian most talked about events [es] on social networks during 2013, made up thanks to votes by the readers:

Sinceramente estábamos esperando que alguien más haga este ránking. Pero como nadie lo hizo, aquí vamos nosotros.

La idea fue elaborar una lista con los fenómenos/incidentes más sonados que hayan nacido en las redes sociales de nuestro rico Perú.

We were honestly expecting that someone else would make this list. But as no one did, here we go.

The idea was to prepare a list with the phenomena/incidents most taled about orginated on social networks in our rich Peru.

The list is diverse and includes politicians, artists and common citizens [es] who became famous due to its impact on the networks.

December 17 2013

Chungui: Digging up the Horror of Terrorism in Peru

Chungui, el distrito, es parte de la provincia de La Mar en el departamento de Ayacucho. Una parte del distrito es conocida como Oreja de Perro por la forma de la zona en el mapa del Perú.  Foto de Moner Lizana de la web

Chungui, the district, is part of the La Mar province in the Ayacucho region. A part of the district is known as the Oreja de Perro (Dog Ear) because of its resemblance on a map. Picture by Moner Lizana from the web site

Thirty years ago, hundreds of civilians were victims [es] of the terrorist group Shining Path and of the counterinsurgency actions of the Peruvian government forces in the Chungui and Oreja de Perro (Dog Ear) [es] communities, in the Ayacucho region. Many of these victims were buried in unknown mass graves, and the exhumation and identification of their remains has just recently begun. 

The terrorist group Shining Path was born precisely in Ayacucho, and its strategy was to arm the poor and traditionally exploited countrymen to besiege the major cities in the country. The implementation of this strategy meant that many peasants were forced to become part of Shining Path or help the armed cells in various ways, which in the eyes of the Army qualified these peasants as terrorists.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, established to investigate the political violence that plagued the country in the 1980s and 1990s, released the testimonies [es] gathered in Chungui and Oreja de Perro in their final report, with a timeline of the events that took place from 1967 to 1995. After reading this story, it is clear that the district suffered not one or two attacks, but many armed assaults and intimidation actions by Shining Path during the 1980s, including the massive killing of community members and the execution of civil authorities. There were allegedly 1,384 terrorism victims in the Chungi district alone.

This is what a woman who witnessed the Santa Carmen massacre in 1982 told the commission:

Esos hombres tenían un libro grande y llaman lista y dicen su nombre de mi papá, pronuncian XZ diciendo dice pues y de ahí le sacan y a mi papá le dicen XZ “presente jefe” dijo mi papá. Decían ya muy bien, muy bien te están llamando corre, corre te están llamando allá le dicen y le hacen correr a la escuela y detrás le estaban esperando varios más o menos como seis o siete estaban esperando, y alrededor de la muralla también estaban. Entonces mi papá llega y ni bien estaba volteando a la espalda de la escuela, uno le agarro de atrás y le empezó a patear y mi papá al querer defenderse más ya lo acuchillaron.

These men had a big book with them and they called a list and said my dad's name, pronouncing XZ and taking him outside; so my dad was called XZ, “here boss”, my dad answered. They said, well, well, they are calling you, run, run, they are calling your from there, and they made him run to the school. Various persons were waiting for him behind, like six or seven were waiting, and around the wall there were more people. Then my dad got there and as soon as he faced his back to the school, one of them took him from behind and started kicking him and when my dad tried to defend himself, he was stabbed.

The story continues:

Un cuchillo se lo meten por la espalda y mi papá empieza a agarrar a puñete y patada y paj, paj paj. Lo tiran y en el suelo lo pisotean y mi papá no muere y cuando le meten otro cuchillo en la barriga y en el corazón grita mi papá “ayyyyyyyy, ayyyyyyynooo” gritó sólo tres veces. Y después de esto al otro señor ya también, le llama lista y él le dice presente y otra vuelta el otro también corre, corre y el otro también igualito corre y en la lista le llaman, ocho personas habían muerto.

They stuck a knive into his back and my dad starts to punch and kick and pah, pah, pah. They throw him and step on him and my dad didn't die; but when he was stabbed again in the belly and the heart my dad yelled: “ayyyyyyy, ayyyyyyynoooo” only three times. And then, after that, they called another gentleman from the list and then too, he replied “here”, and was asked also to run, run; and then again another one, run. The list goes on, and eight people died.

On January 2013 the remains of 78 exhumed victims of the Chungui zone [es] were delivered to their families [es], and this was only the beginning. The same year, in August, the Specialized Forensics Team (EFE) – a unit of the Public Prosecutor's Office, announced [es] the finding of human remains of 200 people in mass graves in the Oreja de Perro zone and the beginning of the work to get them back to their families. The forensics team chief, Ivan Rivasplata, said [es] that it is still uncertain if these persons were victims of Shining Path or the Army.

The chronicle [es] of the exhumation process, published by a local newspaper, is a painful re-count of the years of terror and how, even though so much time has passed, the mourners are interested in recovering whatever is left of their assassined family members; and they help by giving all the necessary information to find more mass graves and undercover burial sites. “In this town [Amaybamba] waits Valentín Casa Quispe, a young 36-year-old muleteer who carries in his 10 sumpters all the baggage and tools for the exhumations. He has a special interest in helping the prosecution team, because he thinks that in one of the mass graves he'll find the remains of his murdered mother, who died in 1986 when he was a 9 year-old boy.”

Many children were left orphaned and had to manage [es] to survive by any means. “Eugenia was 7 years old when her sisters were executed in the town of Chaupimayo and her dad in the military base of Mollebamba in 1984. After this tragedy, the girl spent two years in the mountains eating parboiled herbs and raw corn. [...] ‘When the army captured me and took me to Mollebamba, I was already 9′. The military handed her to a countrywoman, Lorenza Hurtado, who forced her to put her cattle out to pasture and serve inside her home. ‘The lady mistrated me, she yelled at me and always told everyone in the community that she took in a little terrorist'. A year later, her uncle, Antonio Quispe Nieve, rescued her and took her to Andahuaylas.”

Despite everything, you could say Eugenia was lucky compared to they children who lost both their parents and their identity when they were not murdered.

Out of the 56 victims that were found in Chungui, 26 are kids

Journalist Jacqueline Fowks, on the blog NoticiasSer, shared the story of Rigoberto and Marina's little brother. They asked the army to take him by helicopter to the Huamanga Hospital because he was very sick. After that, they never heard from him again. The journalist adds [es]:

Éste no es un caso aislado. Una trabajadora del sector Salud de Ayacucho ha referido a trabajadores y asistentes sociales que en aquel tiempo, llegaban en helicópteros a Huamanga niños heridos o enfermos, o porque su comunidad era arrasada, y luego no los devolvían: pasaban a orfanatos, sin nombre, y más tarde los trabajadores los inscribían, hasta con sus propios apellidos.

This is not an isolated case. A health worker from Ayacucho has refered to workers and social assisstants from that time who took by helicopter sick or injured kids, or children whose communities were ravaged; and then, they never gave them back. They took them to orphanages, with no name, and later workers registered them as their own.

In the blog GranComboClub, the economist Silvio Rendón after reviewing the violent story of Chungui and Oreja de Perro, compares and concludes [es]:

La zona de Chungui, aquí, fue escenario de la guerra insurgente-contrainsurgente de los ochentas y noventas y es parte de lo que hoy se denomina “el VRAE”, el valle de los rios Apurímac y Ene, zona cocalera y donde persisten las acciones armadas contra el estado peruano. Lo ocurrido hace 45 años es muy indicativo de algunas persistencias en la historia peruana reciente. Y como ya vimos en 1965: insurgencia en el Gran Pajonal, en 1965 no hubo “comisión de la verdad” ni juicios a militares, ni acusaciones, ni nada por el estilo. Ahí quedó la cosa.

The Chungui area was the stage of an insurgent-counterinsurgency war during the eighties and nineties and today is part of the “VRAE”, the valley of the rivers Apurimac and Ene, a coca zone where there are still armed actions against the Peruvian state. What happened 45 years ago is a sign of issues that persist in recent Peruvian history. And as we saw in 1965: Gran Pajonal uprising [es], there was no “truth commission”, no military trials, no accusations, nothing of the sort. Things just stayed as they were.

Thirty years after the massacres, in 2013, it seems that at least the victims and their families will recover some dignity and memory.

Original post published on the blog Globalizado [es] by Juan Arellano.

December 06 2013

On Twitter, Peruvians Remember Song Dedicated to Mandela

When South African leader Nelson Mandela was released from prison in the 90s, Spanish-Peruvian musician Miki Gonzáles [es] wrote the song “Liberaron a Mandela” [Mandela was released]. Peruvian Twitter users remembered the song when they learned about Mandela's passing:

What a hit by Miki Gonzales when Mandela was released, back in the 90s. I remembered the melody but not the lyrics.

Tribute by a Peruvian musician to a liberty icon: Miki González, “Mandela was released”

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 08 2013

Peru: Day Without Shadow in Arequipa

At 11:29:51 am on Thursday, November 7, 2013, while the 6th Latin American Congress of Photobiology and Photomedicine in the Peruvian city of Arequipa was taking place, locals stopped their activities to contemplate the day without shadow [es].

This event happens twice a year in cities located between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, that is, between Northern Mexico and Northern Argentina (in America). The next day without shadow for Arequipa will be on February 3, 2014.

On Twitter, Paula Gonzalez warned:

Arequipa: High ultraviolet radiation on the Day Without Shadow.

Meanwhile, Renzo Vargas explained it with 140 characters:

The day without shadow only happens twice a year for some minutes, as the sun puts itself in a 90° angle. #quelocura [this is crazy]

With the sun on a perpendicular position, ultraviolet radiation in Arequipa on Thursday, November 7, reached up to 16 units, considered extremely high.

November 06 2013

Peruvians Protest Against Pro-Fujimori Congresswoman

Peruvian human rights organizations are speaking out against [es] the appointment [es] of pro-Fujimori congresswoman Martha Chávez [es] as a member of the Human Rights Commission in Congress due to her history [es] of disrespect of human rights.

Yesterday, November 5, Congress rejected [es] the request by congressman Heriberto Benítez -who had previously voted for Martha Chávez- to disable the commission.

Human rights groups organized a protest for November 5. On social networks the call to protest was made under the hashtag #FueraMarthaChávez [es] (Out Martha Chávez).

 We have returned to the streets because we are outraged!

Global Demand for Quinoa Takes Toll on Andean Farmers and Consumers


Varieties of Peruvian quinoa. Photo posted by ApegaPerú on flickr and used under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license)

Quinoa has captured the attention of consumers from around the world, but the growing international demand has caused problems in local consumption in the Andean countries where it is produced, additionally affecting poor populations who used to consume it regularly.

The year 2013 was declared as the ‘International Year of Quinoa’ by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). FAO additionally named [es] Nadine Heredia, wife of Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, as special ambassador for the International year of Quinoa, together with Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia.

This declaration by the FAO is a recognition [es] of the great nutritional value of quinoa, a pseudocereal originating from the Andean region of South America which contains eight basic amino acids for human nutrition; in addition to proteins, carbohydrates, and minerals, it is relatively low in fats.

These nutritional qualities have, little by little, made the rest of the world interested in this ancestral Andean product. From rather low levels [es] of exportation a few years ago, Peru, the second world producer of quinoa, exported [es] 7,600 tons in the year 2012, from a production [es] of 43,600 tons; while Bolivia, the first world producer [es] of quinoa, exported [es] some 26,000 tons of its total production which was a little more than 44,000 tons.

The Peruvian gastronomic boom has also contributed to the spread of quinoa on a global scale, since several typical Peruvian and international dishes have been reinterpreted [es] by chefs using quinoa. It's use, which before was not very widespread outside of Andean homes, has arrived in force [es] to gourmet restaurants in Lima.

The following promotional video (with English subtitles), produced by FAO and uploaded to YouTube, explains more about quinoa:

However, this promising panorama has its negative side: the international demand for quinoa, which causes Bolivia to dedicate more than 50% of its quinoa production to exportation, has caused prices within the domestic market to rise and therefore is now not accessible [es] to the poorest populations.

The level of unsatisfied international demand [es] for quinoa is also currently causing the United States and Chile to research its cultivation in non-Andean lands.

With regard to this issue, in the blog All about Quinoa they republish an article by the anthropologist Mauricio Mamani Pocoaca which previously appeared in Bolivian newspapers, where he says [es] that in this time of globalization farmers must adapt to agricultural production chains or resign themselves to losing their crop lands. Mamani adds that the hope for income from exportation is a fallacy:

Habrá muchos pedidos desde el exterior y los países andinos no podrán responder; entonces los países industrializados producirán con alta tecnología y con fines industriales. Los subproductos de la quinua llegará desde el exterior a nuestro país, en enlatados, en sobre, en diferentes preparados, con conservantes. Nuestra quinua formará parte de la comida chatarra y nosotros seremos los consumidores dependientes: razón por la que lloran los campesinos en silencio y saben que, en el futuro, nunca más serán los dueños de la semilla de quinua y además están conscientes que, en el futuro desaparecerán algunas variedades que desde su origen, tuvieron distintas aplicaciones en su uso. Antes de la época de la siembra, todos los años comprarán a comerciantes (semillas transgénicas) con el denominativo de “semilla certificada”.

There will be many requests from overseas and the Andean countries won't be able to respond; so industrialized countries will produce with high tech equipment and by industrial means. Quinoa subproducts will come from overseas to our country, in cans, in envelopes, in different preparations, with preservatives. Our quinoa will form part of fast food and we will be dependent consumers: this is the reason why farmers are crying in silence and know that, in the future, they will no longer be the owners of the quinoa seed and they are also aware that, in the future, some varieties that were originally used differently will disappear. Before the time of sowing, every year they will buy will buy transgenic seeds with the name “certified seed” from businessmen.

In the same blog post, Rubén Miranda writes in response:

Lo mejor sería que el productor además de venderla la consuma mucho más, el intermediario pague y venda a un precio justo el grano adquirido y las empresas beneficiadores y transformadoras inviertan en el mercado nacional y también la exporten porque deben recuperar sus inversiones, además de mejor sus procesos.

De quien dependa que las variedades no se pierdan, de los mismos productores, de quien depende conscientizar sobre evitar las semilla transgenicas [...] (d)e todos nosotros, los interesados en mantener nuestra variabilidad genética.

The best thing would be for the producer, in addition to selling it, to consume it much more. The middleman should pay and sell the acquired crop at a fair price and benefited and transformed businesses should invest in the national market and should also export it because they must recover their investments, in addition to improving processes.

Not losing the varieties of seeds depends on the producers; raising awareness about avoiding transgenic seeds[...] depends on all of us, those of us who are interested in maintaining our genetic variability.

In the virtual magazine PuntoEdu from the Catholic University of Peru, the Peruvian anthropologist Carlos Eduardo Aramburú shares an article [es] which explores the dilemmas between the exportation boom [es] and the shortage for the domestic market. Aramburú explains that in a field study in Ayacucho and Puno he found that:

los pobladores han dejado de comer quinua porque prefieren exportarla y han reemplazado este alimento por los fideos que son más rápidos de cocinar y llenan pero tienen muy poco valor nutricional. En conclusión, tenemos el boom de la gastronomía en un país donde, si bien la malnutrición crónica infantil ha caído, todavía los índices de anemia son altos. No comemos menos pero si comemos mal

the people have stopped eating quinoa because they prefer to export it and they have replaced this food with noodles which are quicker to cook and fill you up but have very little nutritional value. In conclusion, we have the gastronomic boom in a country where, although chronic childhood malnutrition has decreased, anemia indexes are still high. We don't eat less but but we eat badly

Confirming the above, Peruvian areas with a traditionally high consumption of quinoa, like Puno, have reported a shortage of the product. The Peruvian Society of Environmental Law blog reports that this is worrying, since Puno has 80% of the quinoa production in Peru, and adds [es]:

desde julio la región Puno sufre de escasez de quinua, debido al incremento de la demanda en más de 143% entre los años 2008 y 2012. Otro factor sería la promoción que se le ha dado a este producto en mercados importantes como China.

since July the Puno region has suffered from a shortage of quinoa due to the increased demand of more than 143% between the years 2008 and 2012. Another factor may be the promotion this product has been given in important markets like China.

Some citizens complain about the rise in price of quinoa in Peru, where Bolivian quinoa can be cheaper [es] than Peruvian kind:

And that will lower the price? :) RT @Capital967: Peruvian Pride: They declare quinoa a flagship product

Half a kilo (about one pound) costs 10 soles ($3.60 US dollars) on average – the price of quinoa is through the roof at the markets

Thanks @NadineHeredia for promoting quinoa. And for making the price rise unbelievably!!! Thanks? #OkNo

Finally, the website Carro de Combate shares an article [es] about the risks of the quinoa boom:

Ninguna moda, por muy ecológica o sostenible que pueda parecer, está exenta de riesgo. El consumo masivo puede traer consigo desequilibrios para las comunidades locales e impactos ecológicos, incluso si la planta que se cultiva es el “alimento de los dioses”.

Nothing which is in style, no matter how ecological or sustainable it may appear, is exempt from risk. Mass consumption may bring with it an imbalance for local communities and ecological impacts, even if the plant which is cultivated is the “food of the gods.”

Original post published in the blog Globalizado [es] by Juan Arellano.
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