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Stories from and

Bolivia to Host First International Community Radio and Free Software Conference

The first international conference on community radio and free software will be held in Cochabama, Bolivia from June 11-13, 2015. So far, the community radio stations from Spanish-speaking countries that have confirmed their assistance are: Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Uruguay, Venezuela, and of course, the host, Bolivia. 

The preliminary agenda includes a forum discussing the advances taking place in Latin America regarding free software, telecommunication legislation, and a migration plan. There will also be workshops and simultaneous talks on free software tools such as Shamatari, Ardour, Audacity, and Creative Commons, amongst others. 

Several websites, such as Radios Libres (Free Radio Stations) and Corresponsales del Pueblo (The People's Correspondents), have helped to spread the information found on the official site,, while others have stepped up to the task of getting communities to attend the event, such as the Comisión Nacional de Telecomunicaciones de Venezuela, Conatel (National Commission of Telecommunications of Venezuela), which in addition underlines its support for these initiatives: 

En Venezuela las emisoras de radio comunitarias también cuentan con apoyo para su independencia. En enero de 2015 fue lanzada otra aplicación libre ideal para medios comunitarios: Shatamari 15.01., que tiene 260 aplicaciones preinstaladas y configuradas para trabajar en medios digitales, audiovisuales, automatización de emisoras radiales y medios impresos.

Twitter users also began to spread the word of the event to others as well as to motivate internet users and community radio stations to meet up at the conference. 

Sign up starts on April 1; for more information, visit the event's official page at

Fast-Growing City of El Alto Turns Thirty

El Alto graphic by Tonny Lopez (@tonnylp)

El Alto graphic by Tonny Lopez (@tonnylp)

Relatively young by Bolivian city standards, the city of El Alto celebrates its 30th anniversary on March 6th, 2015. What initially started as a small suburb of the city of La Paz, the seat of government located 4,070 meters above sea level, it became its own municipality in 1985. It is now Bolivia's second largest city according to the 2012 Census.

The city's population is comprised primarily of Aymara migrants from the Altiplano that take part in informal and formal commerce and manufacturing. While it counts on a rich cultural tradition, El Alto is also known for its role in the 2003 “Gas War,” that ultimately led to the resignation of then-President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada in the wake of 80 people left dead. The slogan “El Alto on its feet, never on its knees,” has been used since the 1980s, and is still used today to reflect the resilient character of its residents.

To celebrate El Alto's anniversary, the hashtag #ElAlto30 has been making its rounds on social media.

COP20: Responsibilities of Capitalism On Climate Change

The 20th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and 10th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP20/CMP10) was held in Lima between December 1 to 12, and was chaired by the host country, Peru. During the conference, Bolivian president Evo Morales, emphatically appealed to consider climate change as a direct consequence of capitalist system and urged industrialized countries to accept the consequences of their actions:

Evo Morales urges to listen to indigenous people and to fight against capitalism during COP20.

Damián Profeta sums up the ten main points of Morales’ speech, and he highlisghts:

- ‘Hay que crear un Tribunal Internacional de Justicia Climática’ [encargada de] ‘juzgar a países que no cumplen sus compromisos y los tratados internacionales y a los que hacen mucho daño al ambiente’ […]
– ‘Que el sistema capitalista asuma su responsabilidad en el cambio climático’ […]
– ‘En la lucha contra el Cambio Climático los países del Norte nos han llevado a un terreno infecundo’ […]
– ‘El medio ambiente debe ser administrado comunitariamente porque la naturaleza misma es comunitaria’

- An International Court of Climate Justice [in charge of] judging countries that don't fulfil their obligations and international treaties and those who harm environment a lot must be implemented […]
– The capitalist systema should take responsibility on climate change […].
– In the fight against climate change, the Northern countries have taken us to a sterile ground […]
– Environment must be managed communally, as nature itself is communal

Some Twitter users answered reminding him his actions about the construction of a highway along the Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS):

Evo proposes community property to save the planet? OK, let's stop the highway across TIPNIS and individual property by coca growers.

Empowering Girls Through Sports in Bolivia

The blog El clavo en el zapato (The nail in the shoe) visited District 4 in El Alto, where the project “Niñas con altura” (Girls with height) is fostering the participation of high school girls in sports. It's funded by the Inter-American Development Bank and the foundation Save The Children:

Fue muy emocionante observar a 200 beneficiarias del proyecto, dialogar e intercambiar con un par de personajes singulares: Maitte Zamorano, atleta y futbolista […]. La acompañó Iris Uriona, una de las primeras mujeres árbitras de la Liga Profesional del Fútbol Boliviano.

Ambas compartieron sus sueños, recuerdos, ilusiones y retos. Para estas niñas alteñas, el tener tan de cerca a dos mujeres que con esfuerzo y trabajo, han logrado romper los moldes que se esperan de una joven boliviana, una de ellas con la capacidad de ser la goleadora del continente y la otra siendo jueza y voz de autoridad ante un conjunto de varones, que sin embargo han recibido poca atención mediática.
Iniciativas como las de “Niñas con altura” están poniendo las bases para tener una juventud que pueda soñar con llegar muy arriba, incorporando precisamente lo que han aprendido jugando: liderazgo, autoestima y participación en la comunidad.

It was very exciting to watch 200 beneficiaries of the project, conversing and exchanging with two unique figures: Maitte Zamorano, athlete and football player […]. With them, there was Iris Uriona, one of the first female referees in the Professional Football Bolivian League.

Both of them shared their dreams, memories, excitement and challenges. For these girls from El Alto, having two women who through effort and hard work have been able to break the mold that is expeccted of young Bolivian women, one of them with the ability of being the continent's top goal scorer and the other a judge and authority among a group of men, that nonetheless have gotten little attention from the media.
Initiatives such as “Niñas con altura” are setting the foundations for having a generation that can dream of being on the top, incorporating precisely what they have learned by playing: leadership, self-esteem and community participation.

The Clock on Bolivia's Legislative Building Now Runs Counterclockwise

The clock on top of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly of Bolivia in La Paz's Murillo Square stopped working and had some defects. So a decision was made to repair it along with making some changes: the old Roman numbers on the face were replaced by new natural numbers.

Another change that was introduced: the hands now go toward the left and the numbers are inverted to “change the poles, so south might be in the north and the north in the south”, as explained by Chairman of the Bolivian House of Representatives Marcelo Elío.

This was noticed by Twitter users:

Now, an inverted clock. Why?

Southern people's clock goes counterclockwise at the legislature.

Now you make fun of the inverted clock, but tomorrow it will be a tourist attraction that everybody would like to take a picture with.

Spain and Latin America Celebrate Open Data Day

One again, bloggers, hackers, designers, experts, as well as citizens interested in open data and transparency will meet to celebrate International Open Data Day 2015 all over the world to promote the opening of government data. The event is expected to have online meetings but also in-person activities all over the globe, requiring exceptional coordination and organization. 

Open Data Day 2015, imagen extraída de la página Escuela de Datos, utilizada con autorización

Open Data Day 2015, image from Escuela de Datos. Used by permission

Faeriedevilish, blogging for School of Data, informs us on the Open Data Day festivities to take place on Saturday, February 21st in Spain and various cities in Latin America. Here you'll find information about the organization and event coordination in Buenos Aires, Lima, Medellín, Madrid, Mexico City, Xalapa, Monterrey, San Salvador, Panama City, etc., where many different activities will be held:

Alerta – Nos unimos a Abierto al Público: queremos que #datosabiertos se vuelva trending topic mundial en Twitter el 21 de febrero. Para lograrlo, las organizaciones participantes tuitearemos con este hashtag (y pediremos a lxs participantes que también lo hagan) el sábado 21 a partir de las 10:00 hora México, 11:00 hora Lima, 13:00 hora Buenos Aires, 17:00 hora Madrid. Importante: no usar el hashtag antes de esta hora.

Alert – We're meeting at Abierto al Público: we want #datosabiertos (#opendata) to trend on Twitter on February 21st. To do so, we'll be tweeting participating organizations with this hashtag (and we ask participants to do the same) on Saturday, February 21st starting at 10:00 in Mexico City, 11:00 in Buenos Aires, 17:00 in Madrid. Important: do not use the hashtag before this time. 

Click here for more information on the International Open Data Day festivities. 

You can follow @faeriedevilish and Escuela de Datos on Twitter.

This selected article participated in the 43rd edition of #LunesdeBlogsGV on February 16, 2015. 

Argentina Creates Registry of Interpreters of Indigenous Languages

Enia Pilagá de la provincia de Formosa - Imagen de Laura Schneider

Pilagá Indigenous from Formosa Province in Argentina – Image: Laura Schneider

Following the case of Reina Maraz, a Bolivian Quechua who was detained in Argentina for three years without knowing why, the Court of Buenos Aires province has approved the Registry of Translators for Indigenous Languages.   

According to research from the Instituto Nacional de Asuntos Indígenas (National Institute of Indigenous Affairs), during 2004-2005 it recognized the existence of 38 native people communities based on a Complementary Poll of Indigenous Communities from Argentina:

Los pueblos con mayor población a nivel nacional en orden descendente son: el pueblo Mapuche con 113.680, el pueblo Kolla con 70.505 y el pueblo Toba con 69.452 habitantes. En cuanto a los de menor población, se encuentran los pueblos Quechua con 561, los Chulupí con 553, los Sanavirón con 528, los Tapiete con 484 y por último, el pueblo Maimará con 178 habitantes.

The most populous communities nationwide in descending order are: Mapuche with 113,680, Kolla with 70,505 and Tobas with 69,452 inhabitants. As for the smaller population, Quechua are 561, the Chulupí 553, the Sanavirón 528, the Tapiete with 484 and finally the Maimará with 178 inhabitants

Similar registers already exist in Peru, with its Registry of Interpreters of Indigenous and Native Languages, and Bolivia, whose General Law of Linguistic Rights and Policies outlines its main objectives as:

1. Reconocer, proteger, promover, difundir, desarrollar y regular los derechos lingüísticos individuales y colectivos de los habitantes del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia.

2. Generar políticas públicas y obligaciones institucionales para su implementación, en el marco de la Constitución Política del Estado, convenios internacionales y disposiciones legales en vigencia.

3. Recuperar, vitalizar, revitalizar y desarrollar los idiomas oficiales en riesgo de extinción, estableciendo acciones para su uso en todas las instancias del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia.

1. To recognize, protect, promote, disseminate, develop and regulate individual and collective linguistic rights of the citizens of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.2. Generate public policies and institutional requirements for implementation, under the State Constitution, international conventions and legal provisions in force.3. Recover, vitalize, revitalize and develop the official languages at risk of extinction, setting actions for use in all instances of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.

A Missed Opportunity for Bolivian “Quipus” Laptops?


Image of a quipus. Image on Flickr by user Phil Dokas (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

The Bolivian government recently announced a new program where high school students attending their final year will have access to a new laptop. These computers, called “Quipus,” are being assembled in the city of El Alto. The term comes from a traditional Andean form of record keeping on a series of knots.

Blogger and software developer Fernando Balderrama applauds the initiative and sees the benefit of providing access to technology to more sectors of society. In his blog, he examines the comparative costs of the assembled computers to those that can be obtained in stores. However, he is puzzled why the new laptops will arrive with installed proprietary software. He writes:

Supuestamente el Gobierno promueve el uso de software libre, y buscan que Bolivia tenga soberanía tecnológica en base al software libre. Pero parece que esto es solamente en palabras, ya que los hechos dicen otra cosa. Las laptops quipus ensambladas en Bolivia vienen con Windows, el cual además de ser software privativo, encarece el costo final por el pago de licencias que deben hacer a Microsoft.

Supposedly the Government promotes the use of free software and seeks technological sovereignty through the use of free software. However, it appears that these are just words, because their actions send a different message. The quipus laptops assembled in Bolivia come with Windows, which in addition to being proprietary software, increases the final cost due to the payments to Windows to obtain the licenses.

However, in the comments section, Sergio Bowles, General Manager of Quipus, clarifies that the laptops will come with a dual boot option for Windows and Linux, but some others still have their doubts and dismiss the argument that students must also learn Windows because much of the business and academic world still relies on that operating system.

‘A World Where People Are Afraid of Receiving Help From a Stranger’

From Bolivia, El rincón de tu camarada Pepe (The hideout of your pal Pepe) shares what happened [es] to him one day when he saw a guy walking among the cars who “looked homeless, as he talks to a driver, the driver closes the window and looks terrified” and about his own reaction at the moment:

¿Qué puede estar haciendo ese viejo? ¿Será que está ofreciendo droga? O tal vez peor!!! Está ofreciendo órganos!!! No… está vendiendo a sus hijos!!! Bueno no, no veo niños, aunque veo una bolsa…tal vez están en esa bolsa!!

What can this guy be doing? Is he selling drugs? Or even worse!!! He is selling organs!!! No… he is selling his children!!! Well, no, I don't see children, although I see a bag… maybe they are in that bag!!

Then the blogger realizes he is thinking in prejudices, when the alleged homeless tells him:

“Estoy acá tratando de ayudar a la gente, pero todos parecen locos y huyen de mí […]”. (Dice que) despertó con las intenciones de hacer algo bueno con su vida, ayudar a las demás personas, esa bolsa que vi, donde tontamente pensé que traía restos de personas, era las pocas cosas que poseía y que estaba regalando para ver si podía ayudar a las demás personas […]. No puedo evitar sentirme triste por vivir en un mundo en el que la gente tiene miedo a recibir ayuda de un extraño, miedo a que alguien sea una terrible persona, miedo a acercarse a otro ser humano, ¿tanto nos hemos condicionado en este mundo que no podemos dejar de tener miedo de nosotros mismos como semejantes?

“Here I am trying to help people, but everybody reacts crazily and run away from me […]” (He says he) woke up with the intention of doing something good out of his life, help other people. That bag I saw where, silly me, I thought he carried human remains, contained the few things he had and was giving away to see if he could help other people […] I can't help but feeling sad for living in a world where people are afraid of receiving help from a stranger, fear that someone is a terrible individual, fear approaching another human being, are we that conditioned that we can't avoid being afraid of ourselves as our fellow man?

The Inca Road Is a New World Heritage Site


Somewhere in the Qhapaq Ñam. Photo on Flickr by user Rainbowasi. CC BY-SA 2.0

For the first time in the 40 years of World Heritage convention, six countries united to submit a joint application to designate a cultural site as world heritage. Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru requested that the Incan Road be included as a cultural heritage site.

The announcement was made in the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee in in Doha, Qatar.

The international body highlighted that the Inca Road “represents a very valuable shared legacy, almost 60,000 kilometers long”:

Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru share a new cultural legacy site: #QhapaqÑan, Inca road system. Congratulations!

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