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Ecuador's Creeping Criminalization of Abortion

Marita Seara, blogging for Voces Visibles, warns about the growing criminalization of abortion in Ecuador, one of the most difficult countries in Latin America for women to obtain an abortion, second only to Venezuela

Hay dos únicos casos en los cuales es permitido el aborto: cuando corre peligro la vida de la mujer y cuando se trata de una “violación a una discapacitada mental”. A mi parecer, inaudito. Leo en el medio ecuatoriano, Plan V, y no salgo de mi asombro, el proceso en el cual se trata de despenalizar el aborto en dicho país, un país donde, según se señala en dicho medio, 380 mil mujeres aproximadamente han sido víctimas de violación, un país donde una de cada cuatro mujeres han sido víctimas de algún tipo de agresión sexual, un país en el cual ha aumentado un 74,8% los embarazos de niñas entre 10 y 14 años, muchos de los cuales parecen estar ligados a violación sexual; un país donde más de 3.600 niñas menores de 15 años son madres producto de una violación.

There are only two cases where abortion is allowed: when mother's life is in danger and when it's a “rape committed against a learning disabled woman”. To me, it's outrageous. I read on the Ecuadorian new website Plan V and I'm astonished [about] these attempts to criminalize abortion in that country—a country where, as Plan V points out, about 380,000 women have been raped, where one out of four women has been the victim of some kind of sexual assault, and a country where pregnancy in 10- to 14-year-old girls has increased by 74.8 percent—many of them apparently related to sexual assaults. This is a country where more than 3,600 girls younger than 15 are mothers as result of a rape.

Criminalizing abortion would have profound repercussions for doctor-patient confidentiality, not to mention aggravate the country's already staggering social inequalities.

The criminalization concept could be spreading, too. More than a dozen women now languish in El Salvadorian prisons, convicted of “aggravated homicide” after miscarrying. Some of these would-be mothers are serving out 30-year prison sentences.

You can follow Voces Visibles and Marita Seara on Twitter.

The post reviewed here was part of the #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on March 2, 2015.

Mexican Beauty Pageant Contestant’s Baffling ‘Chimpanzee’ Answer

Mariana Torres. Imagen ampliamente difundida en Twitter.

Mariana Torres. Image widely shared on Twitter.

It's well known that every aspiring beauty queen must answer a difficult question in the interview portion of the contest. Also well known are some of the answers that contestants have given, answers that earned them more publicity than their good looks ever did.

The most recent of those answers was given by Mexican Mariana Morres during the semifinal of the Miss Our Latin Beauty 2015, which has circulated online. The question: “Which partner would you choose to preserve the human species in case of a nuclear holocaust?” Torres answered: “A couple of chimpanzees… You know, due to the theory we come from there, so…”

As expected, Twitter users didn't waste any time in commenting:

Mariana Torres, finalist in Miss Our Latin Beauty really stepped in it while answering a question.

Wonderful! Number 1 fan of beauty queen wisdom. Hahaha.

Mariana Torres makes a fool of herself and loses the final at Miss Our Latin Beauty.

Although some were sympathetic:

Don't make fun of Miss Our Beauty Mariana Torres and her chimpanzee, in the future she could become the partner of some politician.

Defending Internet Free Speech and Anonymity in Ecuador

Organizaciones que del Ecuador, Internacionales y de distintos países que se adhirieron al Manifiesto.

Signatories to the Manifesto for the Freedom of Expression, Anonymity, and Online Privacy in Ecuador.

In the face of government condemnation of anonymity and satire on the Internet, several national and international organizations have signed the Manifesto for the Freedom of Expression, Anonymity, and Online Privacy in Ecuador.

Domestic signatories include Usuarios Digitales and Fundamedios, while some of the international and foreign groups to join the manifesto are AccessElectronic Frontier FoundationDerechos Digitales (Chile), Oficina Antivigilancia (Brazil), Fundación Karisma (Colombia), TEDIC (Paraguay), Acceso Libre (Venezuela), ContingenteMx (Mexico), and Enjambre Digital (Mexico).

The joint statement stresses that anonymity on the Internet is not a crime:

  • Reprobamos cualquier acto de violencia como consecuencia del ejercicio de la libertad de expresión o de cualquier otro derecho.
  • El anonimato es parte esencial de la estructura descentralizada de Internet. Esta es una característica intrínseca de su arquitectura y diseño, y forma parte de la esencia de la comunicación en línea.
  • El anonimato es una herramienta fundamental para ejercer plenamente el derecho a la libre expresión, ya sea en Internet o fuera de ella.
  • La difusión de datos personales de quienes usan legalmente el anonimato constituye una amenaza a la integridad de las personas, promueve la censura y afecta el control legítimo que la sociedad debe realizar de la actividad pública.
  • Mientras no se cometan delitos tipificados, el anonimato debe ser garantizado por el Estado y todos sus entes, de acuerdo a la Ley.
  • Intimidar o direccionar a grupos para el ataque virtual o físico a personas, independientemente de su posición política, puede derivar en polarización y violencia en la sociedad.
  • Consideramos que los recursos públicos deben brindar las garantías suficientes para promover el libre ejercicio de nuestros derechos también en plataformas digitales.
  • We condemn any act of violence as consequence of exercising the freedom of expression or any other right.
  • Anonymity is an essential part of the decentralized structure of internet. This is an intrinsic characteristic of its architecture and design and makes part of the essence of online communication.
  • Anonymity is a key tool to fully exercise the right to free expression, whether online or offline.
  • Sharing personal information from those who use anonymity legally is a threat to the integrity of individuals, promotes censorship and affects legitimate control society has to make of public activity.
  • As long as no categorized crime is committed, the State must be ensure anonymity, according to this law.
  • Intimidating or addressing groups for virtual or physical assault to individuals, regardless of their political position, may end in polarization and violence in society.
  • We consider that public resources must provide enough guarantees to promote free exercise of our rights also on digital platforms.

Check here to read the Manifesto for the Freedom of Expression, Anonymity, and Online Privacy in Ecuador.

Meet Mexico's Crowdfunding Campaign Against Censorship and Bots

Foto de loquesigue.net y utilizada con permiso.

Photo from loquesigue.net, used with permission. 

The Mexican groups #YoSoyRed and #loQueSigue have organized a crowdfunding campaign to develop an open-source software that monitors and identify bots used by the Mexican government to influence public opinion and trends in Twitter.

The presentation included some harsh criticism of the groups responsible for the bot nets:

A quien usa esos bots no le gusta la libre información y el libre intercambio de ideas. Tampoco le gusta que el mundo sepa lo que ocurre en México. […] ¿Qué pasaría si aparte de actuar en masa contra los bots pudiéramos difundir masivamente y en segundos todo aquello que pretenden censurar través de un super medio que conecte a todos los medios libres existentes y blogs?

Whoever uses these bots does not like free information and the free exchange of ideas. Nor would they like the world to know what happens in Mexico. […] What if there were a way (other than using bots) to spread widely and instantly everything the authorities wish to censor through a super medium that connects all existing free media and blogs?

Two examples of how bots can endanger human lives and change trends in social networks are #1DMX and the most recent #Yasequenoaplauden. 

The following video explains how the hashtag #YaSeQueNoAplauden, a criticism of the Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto, disappeared among the trends on Twitter despite its 133,462 tweets. By comparison, the visible topic trends #MeDesmoronoComoElPAN and #MePasóEnElMetro, according to Topsy, had only 13,411 and 3,046 tweets, respectively. The video suggests that attacks employing bots caused the disappearance of the #YaSeQueNoAplauden hashtag from Twitter trending topics in Mexico and worldwide.

People from LadoB talked to Alberto Escorcia, the developer behind the crowdfunding project, who says the proposed software “would have the ability to analyze millions of messages and could also measure various parameters such as speed trends and its geographical origin.”

Así, en lugar de actuar cuando ya está el el HT creado podemos actuar antes de que surja con una algoritmo de respuesta inmediata que leyendo en tiempo real todos los tweets de México detecte cuando un grupo de bots se está formando.

So, instead of acting when the HT is already created, we can act before it emerges with an immediate response algorithm that reads in real time all the tweets from Mexico and detects when a group of bots is being formed.

If you enjoy online freedom of information, remember to contribute to Escorcia's project #YoSoyRed and #loQueSigue.

Nicaraguan Mother Recovered Her Child Detained At German Embassy in Managua

Ximena Gutiérrez, a Nicaraguan mother, recovered her child who was detained by his father at the German Embassy in Nicaragua.

Arun was taken to the Embassy's office in Managua by his father, a German citizen. Considering the unwillingness to leave the place, the little child's mother reported to the authorities and media that her child was ¨kidnapped¨.

Immediately, tens of people mobilized in social media in favour of the Nicaraguan mother: 

Friends and family request Nicaraguan kid's return detained at German customs in Nicaragua.

German ambassador in Nicaragua Karl-Otto König, in his statements to the media, explained that both father and child have German nationalities and this European country's law says that they have the right to consular protection. 

According to Gutiérrez, the child legally lives with her in Nicaragua since August.

A man kidnaps his own son (what?!) and he took refuge at German customs. He had to be from Nicaragua, of course!

König and Minister of Family Affairs Marcia Ramírez agreed that it is a family and not a political-related issue.

The child was placed in the custody of his mother, according to the ambassador, who did not want to give more details because “it is a merely family issue.”

Boy’s T-Shirt Pokes Fun at Ecuadorian President

Detalle de imagen ampliamente difundida en Twitter.

Detail of image widely shared on Twitter.

When Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa agreed to take a photo with a boy, he probably didn't imagine it would go viral — and he would end up being the butt of the joke. The boy was wearing a T-shirt printed with the phrase “I’m with stupid” and an arrow that pointed toward the head of state.

The image's publication resulted in the hashtag #IAmWithStupidMashi on Twitter. “Mashi” is part of President Correa's handle on Twitter: @mashicorrea (“Mashi” means colleague or teammante in Quechua).

A picture with you, man, so I can wear my T-shirt for the first time. LOL!

#WeAreWithYouMashi all the idiots with you, oh!! Mashi, oh!! Mashi!!

And this is the photo that's causing a stir around the world.

It's clear he urgently needs some lessons with #OpenEnglish.

Are Zuckerberg and Internet.org Genuinely Good for Panama?

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg took advantage of his invitation to attend the Summit of the Americas in Panama City and met with his CEO counterparts in the region to promote Internet.org, a partnership he initiated between big business, non-profit organizations, and communities, the goal of which is to connect more people to the Internet.

Many media outlets are reporting the announcement made jointly by Zuckerberg and Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela that, thanks to Internet.org, Panamanians will now have free access to the Internet. According to the Spanish daily El País, the aim is to “facilitate free access to essential services related to health, safety, transportation and education. The project's implementation has the support of the government.”

But Richard Armuelles, writing for El Blog de Machinarium021, opines that the news may not be as good as it's cracked up to be. According to Armuelles, the public is being sold the “erroneous idea that all Internet will be free in a given country, which is not true. Only certain services that have formed partnerships with Facebook will benefit from this initiative, so my dear fellow blogger or local entrepreneur, you will still have to pay for users to have access to your website.” He adds that:

esto rompe la neutralidad de la web. desde hace mucho tiempo, fundaciones como Mozilla hablan de lo peligroso que es una web en donde no tengamos igualdad de oportunidades. Básicamente, esto no es diferente a un carrier que da “data gratis”, para navegar en Facebook y Whatsapp, haciendo que sea imposible una libre competencia.

this conflicts with net neutrality. For a while now, companies like Mozilla have talked about the dangers of a Web in which users don't enjoy equality of opportunity. Basically, this is no different from a carrier who provides “free data” so users can navigate on Facebook and WhatsApp, making a free market impossible.

Richard also argues that business interests are being served under the guise of providing charity, concluding that:

Internet.org en Panamá es todo menos beneficioso. Resuelve un problema de conectividad, pero a un precio mayor y lamentablemente sin muchas soluciones que realmente sean neutrales y justas para todos.

Internet.org in Panama may be many things but it is no free lunch. It solves a connectivity problem, but at a higher price and unfortunately without the kind of solutions that are truly neutral and equitable for everyone.

Peruvian Web Users Take the #LanguageChallenge

International Mother Language Day was celebrated on February 21, as a commemoration of the right every nation has to keep its own language, a key element of cultural identification. In Peru, there are 47 native languages, spoken by about 4 million people.

To mark the occasion, the Office of Indigenous Language of the Vice Ministry of Interculturality of the Ministry of Culture invited Peruvians to participate in the #LanguageChallenge:

It's very easy to participate in the #LanguageChallenge!!We show you how.

The blog La Mula reported what the second edition of the Challenge of Languages was about:

Este sábado 21 de febrero se celebra el Día Internacional de la Lengua Materna y la Dirección de Lenguas Indígenas del Viceministerio de Interculturalidad ha lanzado la campaña Reto de las Lenguas (#RetoDeLasLenguas). En realidad, es un desafío creado el año pasado en las redes sociales de diversos países. Quien lo acepta debe grabar un video en una lengua indígena y retar a otra persona a que haga lo mismo. A la fecha han participado hablantes de lenguas indígenas norteamericanas y europeas, pero aún es poca la participación de lenguas sudamericanas.

On Saturday, February 21, we celebrate International Mother Language Day and the Office of Indigenous Language of the Vice Ministry of Interculturality [of the Ministry of Culture] has launched the campaign the Language Challenge. It's really a challenge created last year on social networks from various countries. If you accept it, you have to record a video in an indigenous language and challenge another person to do the same thing. Until now, indigenous speakers from many North American and European communities have taken part, but we still have a small participation of South American languages.

On Twitter, various users rose to the challenge, such as Quechua speakers Qorich'aska Qespi Puma and Jorge Alejandro Vargas:

Excellent video from #Retodelaslenguas by Qorich'aska Qespi Puma and Jorge Alejandro Vargas. Now, let's hope that…

This video shows Culina, spoken in Peru and Brazil Amazon regions:

Another Language Challenge from Peru! The so-sexy Nehemías Pino speaking Culina! We have 47 languages!

There is even a video with sign language:

Message in Peruvian sign language for the Language Challenge, I challenge linguistic models from C. Beethoven.

Another video from Cusco:

A video from abroad by a speaker and academic of Shawi, an Amazonian language:

To follow the challenge, which is still going on, follow the hashtag #Retodelaslenguas on Twitter.

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, liberaturadio.org, 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 liberaturadio.org

Before the Border: The Immigrant Odyseey Across Mexico

The perils of crossing the border between Mexico and the United States are well documented, but for thousands of undocumented migrants from Central America, crossing Mexico is even more dangerous.

To reach the US border, undocumented migrants from Central America undertake a dangerous 1,500-mile trip through Mexico, where they risk being kidnapped, assaulted or killed by the drug cartels, gangs and even the police. What happens in that journey?

This animation will take you through that journey, explaining the threats that migrants face to reach the “safety” of the US.

Animated Press takes some of the most complex topics in the news and distills them into short and fun animations, like the Syrian Conflict, the Greek Crisis and the Net Neutrality, among others.

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