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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.

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

The Media's Role in Mexico's ‘Warped’ Democracy

Fotografía extraída del blog de Fernando Vazques Rigada, utilizada con autorización

Photo from Fernando Vazquez Rigada's blog, used with permission

Blogger Fernando Vázquez Rigada reflects on the role of the media in Mexico, a country where he says democracy is “warped” because it only works on a formal level, and society isn't adequately represented by the political institutions.

He adds that Mexican media bear a huge responsibility in this issue. There are a variety of media in Mexico, however, quantity does not always goes hand in hand with quality, especially considering that the political power is closely linked to the media system:

El estado mexicano gasta una cantidad descomunal de recursos anualmente en pago a medios de comunicación. Sabemos que el poder ejecutivo federal invierte alrededor de 6 mil millones de pesos al año. Esa cifra, sin embargo, excluye a los otros poderes, a los 31 estados, al DF y a los 2,457 municipios y a las 16 delegaciones del DF. Tampoco incluye al gasto de los partidos políticos. La cifra debe multiplicarse al menos por diez.

Así, los medios en México deben recibir de dinero público algo así como 70 mil millones de pesos anuales. 191 millones de pesos cada día. Casi 8 millones de pesos cada hora.

Eso explica la enorme laguna informativa que ahoga a México.

The Mexican state spends an enormous amount of money in payments to media outlets. We know that the federal executive branch invests about six billion Mexican pesos a year. That figure, however, excludes other powers, the 31 Mexican states, Mexico DF, 2,457 municipalities and 16 delegations in Mexico City. Nor does it include the expenditure of political parties. So, that figure should be multiplied at least, tenfold.

Thus, the media in Mexico should receive annually from public money around 70 billion Mexican pesos. 191 million pesos every day. Nearly 8 million pesos per hour.

That explains the huge information gap in Mexico.

Vázquez Rigada concludes that its links with political power and its economic dependence prevent the media from reporting freely and fulfilling its role of monitoring those in power, pointing out flaws and opening political debate.

You can follow Fernando Vázquez Rigada on Twitter.

This post was part of the 44th #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on February 23, 2015.

Firing of Mexican Journalist Carmen Aristegui Unleashes Heated Comments on Twitter

At the launching of MéxicoLeaks, a platform that collects leaked information about possible corruption, journalist Carmen Aristegui and her research team declared that they would back the project. This lead MVS Radio, their employer, to fire Aristegui's collaborators, Daniel Lizarraga and Iriving Huerta, for supposedly compromising the company name. In response, Aristegui demanded that the radio station rehire Lizarraga and Huerta, after which the company let her go as well.

This led to an outcry of support from followers on Twitter, who openly displayed their indignation for MVS News with the hashtags #EnDefensaDeAristegui (Defending Aristegui), #EnDefenesaDeAristegui2, and #AristeguiSeQueda (Aristegui stays). Users also discussed the state of freedom of expression in Mexico.  

MVS is accused of being linked to the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI in Spanish).

On the flip side, the hashtag #LárgateAristegui (Get out Aristegui) spewed criticism and verbal attacks at the Mexican journalist: 

The governing party, PRI, is accused of creating this hashtag: 

Peñabots are presumed to be fake accounts set up by President Peña Nieto's administration in order to counteract any opposition towards the government.

Mexican Protesters Show Creative Activism

@faeriedevilish, blogging for Infoactivismo, reflects on the need to be creative in communicating our protests. Along those lines, the author explains the importance of creativity while referring to protesting events in Ayotzinapa, where photocopies of the victims’ faces were used to attract and generate awareness about the terrible incidents.

Fotografía extraída del blog Infoactivismo, utilizada con autorización

Photo from Infoactivismo. Used by permission.

Illustrators not only made use of online resources to get the public's attention, but the streets also took the leading role for young people's creativity. 

En una ciudad en la que la proliferación de marchas lleva en el mejor de los casos a una saturación, y en el peor de ellos, a prejuicios de clase, hacer que las marchas de Acción Global Ayotzinapa dieran incentivos para seguir participando fue un reto gigantesco.

Y es que marchar es del Contingente Carreola. Marchar es usar tu talento para incidir – como los jóvenes de la ENAP que pintaron las caras de lxs desaparecidxs en Reforma, lxs estudiantes de la Nacional de Música que marchaban interpretando música. Marchar es de quienes cuentan del 1 al 43, y de quienes cambian los dichos machistas por versiones feministas.

Marchar no es aburrido ni tedioso: es una forma de participación social que, de hecho, puede ser bastante divertida.

In a city where a proliferation of marches can either fill the streets or lead to class prejudices, it was a huge challenge to have the Ayotzinapa Global Action encourage further participation. 

The march is lead by the Stroller Contingent. Marching uses your talent to have an affect on people, such as the kids from the National School of Plastic Arts who painted their faces reflecting the people who disappeared during the Reform period, and students from the National Conservatory of Music marched while playing music. The march has people from ages 1 to 43 and those willing to change their chauvinist remarks for more feminist ones. 

Marching isn't boring or tedious. It's a way to participate in something social and fun. 

You can follow Infoactivism on Twitter

This selected article participated in the 42nd edition of #LunesDeBlogsGV on February 9, 2015.

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.

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.

Prisoner of Conscience Pedro Canché's Letter to Journalist Carmen Aristegui

From jail, Pedro Canché wrote a letter to fellow journalist Carmen Aristegui after her recent and controversial exit from media group MVS. This letter was published on his Tumblr blog “Diary of a prisoner of conscience“.

15 de marzo de 2015 Carta a Carmen AristeguiA propósito del consumado golpe al equipo de investigación de MVS, en específico a tu equipo de noticias, Carmen Aristegui, ¿cuándo tendremos en México un canal de televisión o cadena de radio nacional exclusivo de periodistas?
¿Qué necesitas?
Si don Julio Scherer demostró con la revista Proceso la independencia del poder plutocrático y oligárquico del periodismo auténtico ahora le toca a una mujer aterrizar un proyecto nacional al estilo Aristegui. Todo nuestro apoyo. Es hora y tiempo de que los nuevos vientos soplen en favor del viejo arte del periodismo honesto.
Toda mi solidaridad con Daniel Lizarraga e Irving Huerta. Pero no basta con ser solidarios y pronunciarse cómodos desde el celular o la computadora ¿Qué necesitas Carmen Aristegui?
Basta con apelar a la buena voluntad de todos los mexicanos, esa minoría. Pero de férrea voluntad que lee y a la que Televisa y Tv Azteca no le han logrado chupar el cerebro y convertirlos en zombies, todo un manjar para la clase política, en especial al PRI. El PRI maldito.Todos le entramos a la cooperación Carmen Aristegui. Es muy incómodo hacer periodismo desde la palestra de la oligarquía. Bastante incómodo. Como mexicana, y sobretodo como periodista, considéralo.
Aterriza el proyecto ¿dinero? todos le entramos. Todos. Todos los que no queremos ver arder a nuestro México.

March 15, 2015. Letter to Carmen Aristegui. On behalf of the coup done to the MVS research team, specifically to your news team, Carmen Aristegui, when will we have a TV or radio channel just for journalists in Mexico?

What do you need?

If Mr. Julio Scherer while at Proceso magazine showed independence from plutocratic and oligarchic power for authentic journalism, now is the time for a woman to land a national project, Aristegui style. You have all our support. It is time for new winds to blow in favor of the old, honest art of journalism.

All my support to Daniel Lizarraga and Irving Huerta. But supporting is not enough, nor is taking a stance comfortably from your cell phone or your computer. What do you need, Carmen Aristegui?

It should be enough appealing to the good will of all Mexicans, that minority with iron will who reads and to whom Televisa and Tv Azteca have not yet brain washed and turned into zombies, into a nice feast for the political class, PRI especially. That dreadful PRI. We all cooperate, Carmen Aristegui. It is very uncomfortable to make journalism from the arena of oligarchy. Quite uncomfortable. As a Mexican woman, and above all a journalist, think about it.

Start the project, money? We all will help out. Everybody. Everybody who doesn't want to see our Mexico burn.

Pedro Canché was detained on August 30, 2014, accused of sabotage, after covering a protest against the rise in water service fees at Felipe Carrillo Puerto city hall in Quintana Roo, Mexico. As he awaits sentencing, he regularly publishes on his blog images, videos, phrases and thoughts about freedom of expression with the help of organizacion Article19.

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. 

Two Latin Americans Nominated for Index Freedom of Expression Awards

Afiche de los premios Index a la libertad de expresión

Index's poster for the Freedom of Expression Awards

The communication platform, Courage for Tamaulipas, and Ecuadorian sketch artist, Xavier “Bonil” Bonilla, were the only Latin Americans nominated at the Index Freedom of Expression Awards, which recognizes organizations and individuals in the fight against censorship. 

The awards were created by Index on Censorship, an international organization dedicated to defending freedom of expression. Awards are given out in four categories: journalism, art, campaigns, and digital activism. Out of a total of 2,000 nominations, only 17 advanced to the final round.

Bonilla, who's nominated in the art category, has been the target of fines and various legal battles in Ecuador. In 2013 President Rafael Correa passed a law allowing the government to control certain content by journalists. Among the first victims were the newspaper El Universo as well as Bonilla himself. Both had to retract a drawing and pay a fine.

Meanwhile, Courage for Tamaulipas is competing in the digital activism category, and here the public can vote by clicking on the following link. The Mexican site was created in one of the most dangerous areas for journalism. Since 2010, six journalists have been killed, and violence by drug cartels in the region has resulted in a media blackout. Now drug-related violence is reported anonymously by the citizens. 

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