Stories from Quick Reads and 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.
In his first speech as president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela [es] promised to give back the “strength and credibility to our democracy and its institutions”, fight against corruption and maintain economic growth. He also said that “from this day on, nobody is above the law… We won't tolerate corruption in our government.”
The new president also used his Twitter account to express himself:
Que dios los bendiga y nos guie los próximos 5 años. Los quiero mucho!!! Viva Panamá! Viva Nuestra democracia. #Panamá
— Juan Carlos Varela (@JC_Varela) julio 1, 2014
May god bless you all and guide us for the next five years. I love you very much!!! Viva Panama! Long live our democracy.
Vienen mejores días para nuestro país. La contienda quedó atrás #Panamá
— Juan Carlos Varela (@JC_Varela) julio 1, 2014
Better days are yet to come. The election is already left behind.
On a short post, Panamanian website Avarana notes [es] “We have to save the Earth” and reflects on what each of us has to do to preserve our environment:
We have to save the Earth. Frankly, the Earth doesn't need to be saved. Nature could not care less if human beings are here or not. The planet has survived disatrous and catastrophic changes for millions and millions years. During that period, there is an agreement that 99 percent of every species has come and go, while the planet is still standing. Saving the environment is really about saving our environment – to assure it for us, our children, and the world we know. If more people could see that the problem is saving ourselves, we would probably find more motivation and commitment in doing so.
“They said they would make a program to help people, but they really wanted our signatures to sell [the land]. They lied to us and now we have realized this,”
Panamanian Joel Silva Díaz elaborates what many people wonder, especially men: how to be a good father. On his personal blog he describes his challenges with his own father and his goals as a father:
…Recuerdo que veía como un juego el buscar un tema de conversación, debido a mi falta de interés en el deporte, nunca tuvimos una conversación de más de 5 líneas (legítimamente contadas por más de 10 años), pero conociendo otros casos e historias, por lo menos tuve un padre.
Y es eso lo que quiero mejorar, quiero ser un padre que no haga las cosas sin enterarse, quiero abrazar, quiero besar a mis hijos, presentarle siempre la opción de tomar las mejores decisiones y apoyarlos cuando no tomen las mejores, nunca dudar en mostrarles mi amor y cariño, mucho menos dudar cuando se ganen un coscorrón.
Pero mi parte no quiero que se quede en un apellido, o un cheque en la quincena, mi parte ha de ser presente, determinante y quiero que mi hijo o hija tenga por lo menos un solo recuerdo lindo impregnado en su corazón, como los domingos de Salsa y el olor a grama recién cortada de los domingos en mi casa.
I remember I considered a game to look for something to talk about, due to my lack of interest in sports we never had a conversation longer than five lines (rightfully registered for over ten years), but knowing other cases and stories, I at least had a father.
And that's what I want to improve,I want to be a father that does things without noticing it, I want to hug, kiss my children, present them the best option to make the best decisions and support them when they don't make the good ones, never hesitate in demonstrating my love and care, let alone when they earn a smack on the head.
As for me, I don't want a last name to last, nor a check every two weeks, my part has to be present, decisive and I want my child to have at least on only nice memory in their heart, as Salsa and the scent of recently trimmed off grass on Sundays at home.
Are you, or plan to be a good father?
Juan Carlos Varela, candidate of the Panameñista party, won the presidential elections in Panama, held on Sunday, May 4, 2014. Varela got 39% of the votes after counting over 60% of polling stations, that was 32% more than José Domingo Arias, of Cambio Democrático, and more than 27% than Juan Carlos Navarro, candidate of Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD, by its Spanish name).
This is how Varela himself announced his election on Twitter:
Hoy ganó la democracia, hoy ganó Panamá porque le dimos una muestra de civismo al mundo #Panamá
— Juan Carlos Varela (@JC_Varela) Mayo 5, 2014
Today, democracy won, today Panama won because we gave the world a token of civility.
Other users echoed his words:
“Agradezco a Dios, a los que votaron por mis propuestas y los que votaron por otras propuestas, aquí ganó el pueblo panameño” @JC_Varela
— Debate Abierto (@Debate_Abierto) Mayo 5, 2014
I thank God, those who voted for my proposals and those who voted for other proposals, the winner here is the Panamanian people.
Although dam developers and governments insist that local communities benefit from these projects, the reality on the ground in Panama suggests the opposite: communities are plunged further into poverty, environments are destroyed and irreparable harm is caused. As one witness who is living in the wake of the Chan 75 project said: “The government and the company [AES, a US-based energy global company] promised development but instead they have created a disaster.”
In Intercontinental Cry, Jennifer Kennedy writes about the effect of hydroelectric dam projects on Panamanian Indigenous communities. She concludes:
Both the human and environmental cost of large dam development is undeniable. And communities will continue to defend their livelihoods, environments and resources, staunchly resisting destructive dam development projects.
From the Patagonia to Havana, hundreds of computer users across Latin America are choosing freedom over control by installing free software on their computers. On April 27th, groups of free software enthusiasts will be installing free software in dozens of cities across Latin America as part of FLISOL [es], the Latin American free software installation festival.
Carlos Donderis Sanz, author of the blog CaDs Online comments [es] about taxis and taxi drivers in Panama and says “although it's true this is a generalization (I've personally met taxi drivers who do it very well), most of them look like madmen with a steering wheel, in a hurry and stressed, nobody knows why […]”, and ends by recommending “if you come the Panama and you love excitement, don't miss a ride in a taxi, although it might be your last experience you have in life, it won't let you down”.