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Glimpses of Citizen Media from Portuguese language countries in 2010

Throughout 2010 the lusophone blogsphere has given new perspectives on important issues that mainstream media tends to ignore. Global Voices amplified citizens’ reflections from four continents, on a vast linguistic region spreading from East Timor in Southeast Asia, to Portugal in Europe, Portuguese language countries in Sub-Saharan Africa – Mozambique, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome & Principe and Cape Verde – and Brazil in South America. In this post we share a selection of the stories the Portuguese language countries team covered this year.

Citizen Media Phenomena

Brazilian citizen media triggered some interesting social movements and phenomena in 2010.

The year began with a demonstration of affection, as Raphael Tsavkko reported on a post about the preparation for an evening of mass kissing in Sao Paulo. The public event, organized by twitter users who use cyberactivism as a tool for social change, would become a protest in defence of same sex civil union, the criminalization of homophobia, the legalization of abortion and homo-parenting adoption

The idea is to show, joyfully, that people are different from each other, they are born, live, kiss, love, have relationships with whomever they please, regardless of some group or another turning up their nose at them, their lives go on in the privacy of their own homes.

In June, Debora Baldelli explained how an authentic pop star reached fame by taking advantage of the web. Debora told us the story of Brazilian singer Stefhany from a very poor region of Brazil, and quoted a blogger who said:

Stefhany’s new success shouldn’t be mocked the way it’s happening at youtube comments only with the intention to show yourself away from the popular sphere, but it should be seen as a bright example of the use of the internet by people from all social classes.

The most widespread image of the CALA BOCA GALVAO joke. Unknown author.

The most widespread image of the CALA BOCA GALVAO joke. Unknown author.

Perhaps the most curious citizen media phenomenon was demistified by Raphael Tsavkko

CALA BOCA GALVAO stands for “Shut up Galvao”.

A famous Brazilian narrator and broadcaster, Galvão Bueno, was made victim of a huge twitter phenomenon when millions of twitter users told him to shut up during the 2010 World Cup opening show, in June. CALA BOCA GALVAO ended up as a worldwide joke as non Portuguese speaking netcitizens couldn't understand the meaning of the lasting trending topic and were led to believe it concerned anything except of course telling someone to be quiet.

Brazilian presidential elections

2010 was a voting year for more than 135 million Brazilian citizens.

Back in April, Paula Góes wrote a post explaining how a bill that seeks to prevent politicians who have committed serious crimes from running in elections was becoming viral in the country.

A few days before the first round of the elections for the next President, Governors, Deputies and Senators on October 3, Global Voices highlighted electoral crimes, which were denounced by Brazilian citizens using the internet to push for clean elections.

The doors have opened for what could be a new paradigm of participatory citizenship, where citizens make their voices heard concerning the way politics happen in Brazil.

As Dilma Roussef became the first female president of Brazil on the second round of the elections, Paula Goes reported on women bloggers’ reactions to this historic moment which some believed to be “a sign of changing times and of yet immeasurable magnitude”.

Development, Governance and Politics

The blogspheres from Mozambique and Angola had a word to say about development, governance and politics throughtout the year.

In Mozambique, donor countries briefly suspended budget support to the government over corruption concerns, sparking analysis and debate about aid, corruption and governance, as Janet Gunter reported in May.

In September 1-2, Maputo woke up to violent riots following government's decision to increase the prices of food, water and electricity. Janet wrote about the bloggers reflections on the unrest and the government's response, addressing the economic, political and social aspects of events. Critiques of “civil society”, globalization and Mozambique's economic model were numerous.

In June, Clara Onofre wrote about the Angolan government's decision to close the “doors” of the Roque Santeiro Market and to reopen in a more dignified and modern area called Panguila.

Roque Santeiro Market by Menina de Angola

The development experienced by Luanda holds one of the most frequented commercial spaces in the city, that generates thousands of dollars a day. Roque Santeiro Market by Menina de Angola

Energy

Energy production and exploration as well as its future social and environmental impacts have also been under discussion by lusophone netcitizens.

In January, Janet Gunter reported on the announcement made by the Council of Ministers of Mozambique revoking a massive land concession for the biofuels firm Procana. At stake was the management of nationalized lands on an area bordering on the cross-border Limpopo National Park where 38,000 people live. Following NGOs denouncements a few months later in July Janet gathered blogsphere reactions to a trilateral agreement between Brazil, Mozambique and the European Union promoting ethanol production in Mozambique for the European market.

On the other side of the Indian Ocean, East Timor's natural resource wealth was also in the spotlight. Janet wrote about the use of the Petroleum Fund from Timor's oil fields – the country's greatest source of revenue – and gave us an overview on the potential creation of a National Oil Company.

Flickr User United Nations Photo, CC

A different article reveals serious tensions between Timorese leaders, Australia, and Woodside, the multinational company hoping to profit from new petroleum resources in Timorese territory. Flickr User United Nations Photo, CC

Rising blogspheres

Sao Tome & Principe's blogsphere is still scarce. However, from the beginning of 2010, bloggers got together to denounce a water diversion from the country's main hospital and to pressure the government for action.

Guinea-Bissau's blogosphere was much animated throughout the year by António Aly Silva from the blog Ditadura do Consenso [Dictatorship of Consensus, pt]. In an interview for Global Voices, Aly – considered by many the most visible and active face of the country's online arena – gave us a glimpse of how is it to be a subversive blogger in Guinea Bissau.

Indigenous People

Brazilian indigenous people were also featured on Global Voices in 2010.

In November, Raphael Tsavkko and Sara Moreira wrote about the constant attacks and the alarming rash of suicides that the Guarani Kaiowa have been suffering. They are one of three groups descended from the original Guarani, who still represent one of the most numerous indigenous people in Brazil, though they are profoundly affected by the loss of almost all their land in the last century.

Photo by simpindigena, used with permission.

Photo by simpindigena, used with permission.

Technology has been gaining ground as an efficient means to ensure the indigenous lifestyle and culture. In August, Elisa Thiago told us how tools like Google Earth and GPS aid in reforestation efforts and help to combat deforestation.

Chicoepab Surui, from the Paiter Surui people of the Amazon, covered the first gathering ever of delegates of 16 indigenous communities from all over Brazil to discuss the Internet, and how to use it in favor of indigenous people

Today we, indigenous people, use this technology that is alien to our culture as a tool to seek improvements for our communities and to fight for our rights.

Aiming to promote a new perspective on Brazil shown by their indigenous peoples to an international audience, Chicoepab's debut in Global Voices marks the kick off of a pilot project with a community from Rondônia. In 2011, Repórter Surui will cover issues of indigenous interest and general news for Global Voices Portuguese, from the perspective of indigenous peoples.

Come back in 2011 to listen to more stories by citizen reporters from the Portuguese language countries. If you would like to join our multicultural team at the lusophone Global Voices and help us break the language barrier that separates blogospheres, peoples and countries, please contact us.

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