Human Rights

As always, Ethan Zuckerman brings together all the threads surrounding the Guatemala protests, including information about the arrested Twitter user and some "trending topics" muckraking:

http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2009/05/14/the-assasinated-lawyer-the...

I ran a little tool I developed a few weeks back to check the frequency with which phrases and hashtags appear on Twitter. #escandalogt isn’t hugely frequent, registering at 0.052% - compared to #swineflu, for instance, which was running at over 2% at the height of hype/hysteria. What’s interesting is that #escandalogt is about as frequent as several of the tags listed on Twitter’s “Trending Topics”, getting more use than #fixreplies, #GoogleFail and #theoffice, all currently featured on the right sidebar. It’ll be interesting to see whether #escandalogt emerges there… or whether this is a sign that those topics aren’t entirely algorithmically generated and some human curation is involved.

You might have heard about the posthumously released video by a Guatemalan lawyer accusing his president of assassination in the event of his death, for not participating in a money-laundering scheme. If not, read about the video on boingboing.

It's ignited a full-blown protest against corruption in a country known for not being kind to activism. There are live protests ongoing and rumored additional strikes and protests against the government and its narco-trafficking connections, and a very active online media component (local TV stations are avoiding the events like the plague, but online outlet Libertopolis is broadcasting the protests, and there is a twitter hashtag (#escandaloGT). Read more on different citizen media and follow updates at boingboing's coverage of the scandal, and CNN's slanted coverage: "Guatemala rejects allegations of role in lawyer's death," which follows Guatemala's own media's tactic of not speaking about the mass protests:

I recently saw Ken Banks present at a local speaker series run by IREX. He gave an updated version of this presentation from POPTech, on the power of mobile phones in citizen empowerment, NGO communication, and a host of other amazing stories of using the available, appropriate technology in remote and rural locations which are often off-grid and without Internet access. By attaching a computer (Linux, Mac, or Windows) to a cell phone with a data cable and installing his (free, open source) software, FrontlineSMS, that computer is turned into a messaging hub; sending and receiving text messages via the cell phone to hundreds of contacts.

That's pretty amazing. Three reasonably available pieces of hardware and you have a tool to send alert messages out, receive election monitoring information through, or communicate with field medical workers to coordinate and track supplies and treatment information. Or track corruption. Or report human rights violations. Or share news and tips in places where the media is not independent, as one of the FrontlineSMS success stories shows:

Immigrants take all the best jobs

Submitted by Jon on Thu, 12/20/2007 - 13:25

For example, I bet there's a long line of good ol' american workers who would love to have solid, agriculture jobs in Florida, like the one described in this article:

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