A New scenario for populism

By Javier Velandia

Hugo Chavez Launches his blog, two months after the creation of his Twitter account, the Venezuelan president strikes back with a new blog.

The blog http://www.chavez.org.ve/ created two days ago counts with an information platform about his government and his opinion on Venezuela’s future.

The new virtual personality of the Venezuelan president is a clear response to all the media and critics of his government that in recent months have accused him of censoring the Internet

The creation o the Chavez Twitter account has been a success among the Chavez followers. More than 50.000 messages in one week and more than 230.000 followers confirm his success. But what is really interesting are the contents of the messages that the people are sending him and the responses he is giving to them. 

Chavez has established a “connection” with his followers and has showed himself like as the savior of the people. The people ask for something and he answer almost immediately solving their needs people needs.

He has transformed the Twitter idea of Social group and has turned it into a populist way of making politics. He has upgraded the traditional scenario of the plaza to a massive screen where he sends messages to the people responding to their needs into other level.

The creation of the blog is other way of getting closer to the people with the same strategy used by the opposition in the past. He understood that the internet could be a powerful tool for his political ambitions, and he created a new virtual Chavez capable of listening to the real people problems and solving them.

Chavez and his new virtual persona is an interesting case of how the meaning of spaces and uses of technology can be changed to achieve a specific purpose.

Categories: Venezuela

Hugo Chavez in Twitter.

By Javier Velandia

Last March several newspapers around the world informed about the Intentions of the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of censoring and monitoring the internet, to prevent defamation and wrong information against his government.

But what the world was not expecting was Hugo Chavez sing on Twitter. Last  April 27 “@chavezcandanga” the Chavez account appeared  14 minutes after midnight. His first post:

“Epa que tal? Aparecí como lo dije: a la medianoche. Pa Brasil me voy. Y muy contento a trabajar por Venezuela. Venceremos!!

With this short message Chavez started his counterattack against the opposition that in the last years used the Internet to protest, organise and express ideas against his government.

The next morning Chavez had nearly 29,000 followers on Twitter. And he invited other South American Presidents to sign in the social network.

During the first week Chavez had 237,000 followers and received more than 50,000 messages. Last 8 of May Chavez announced the creation of a group of 200 people called “Mision Chavezcandanga”  to try to respond all the messages received in his Twitter account.

After this change in his policy against the internet, he is trying to find out the way of doing politics in the internet without censorship



Categories: Uncategorized


By Javier Velandia

Past April 15 Radio Free Europe published an interview with Austin Heap, director of the San Francisco-based Censorship Research Center; he announced the new strategy of the US Government to “help” the Iranians to beat the draconian Internet censorship established by the president Mahmud Ahmadineyad.

Heap said that with technology they will “allow people to have their basic human right of free speech without fear of retaliation. It’s not just Iran for us; it is a whole host of countries around the world who are using the Internet as a tool of silencing people “.

The US government is assuming again that the internet by itself would reach democracy.  It is important to say that the use of internet could shape different ways of social and cultural changes but that does not mean that the internet will bring democracy to the people.


Categories: IRAN

Twitter revolution Vs Democracy

April 20, 2010 Leave a comment

By Javier Velandia

Looking in you tube for the Twitter Revolution I Found this video that compares how the media talk about the Twitter influence in different contexts .The good influence: In Iran during the Twitter revolution, the social network helped the people to express themselves. It is perceived like as a tool of for democracy and freedom of speech.

The Bad influence: The video uses an example of the protesters in the G20 meeting in Pittsburg who used twitter to evade police controls get organized and protest.

These two views show the ambivalence of discourses and the differing perceptions of freedom of speech and democracy.

The media talk about the ”Twitter Revolution” and make a link between freedom of speech, democracy and liberty, ignoring others types of expression that are not democratic and do not want to be democratic; for example the G20 protesters.

It is not about twitter itself pursuing democracy and freedom of speech. it is about how and by whom is this tool used).

In the video president Bush’s DPD National Security adviser said: “is it any body that should possible get the novel peace prize in the next time around it should be the founders of Twitter” arguing the importance of the social network for the democratic world.

But what happens when Twitter is used by others that want to protest and express their ideas against democratic governments? Are they criminalized?  Are they treated like terrorist?

The video concludes with a report that affirms “Millions of young people are communicating faster than the U.S military can react”

Twitter is not democratic, the twitter revolution is not democratic, instead it is a manifestation of the people using technological tools to be visible and express their ideas.

Twitter is not revolutionary itself, is the people that use the technology that give significance to the space.

Categories: IRAN

Censorship in Venezuela

March 27, 2010 Leave a comment

By Javier Velandia

After the Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez declarations about controls over the Internet, multiple organizations, newspapers and  Venezuelan users, have expressed their concerns about the government intervention in the media and the future of the freedom of speech in Venezuela.

The declarations made by Chavez after a political and gossip Website “Noticierodigital.com” falsely wrote about the assassination of one of the Venezuela’s Senior Ministers, provoked several reactions that put the topic of the internet regulation on the table. 

“The internet cannon be something open where anything is said and done,” Chavez said “We have to act. We are going to ask the attorney general for help, because this is a crime.” He also complained about social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, where many of his critics planned protest against the government, arguing that those places spread unfounded rumors.

For some Venezuelan Nitizens, Chávez declarations are a real threat for the freedom of speech. Some media laws the political atmosphere, the close relations with other countries that strongly regulate the internet like Cuba and Iran and the new technological infrastructure, are some of the reasons why organizations like Human Rights Watch and the Inter American Press Association closely followed the situation calling attention, and demanded guaranties to preserve the freedom of speech in the country.

Jose Miguel Vivanco, America’s director at Human Rights Watch, said “For years, Chávez has sought to intimidate and punish broadcasters who criticize his government, now he’s also going after those who refuse to promote his own political agenda.”  

One of the main concerns is the future of technological infrastructure, in the next months Venezuela will have a unique connection point, a more efficient system that provides faster access, but at the same time will allow the government to have control over the contents. It Is true that many countries like Mexico and Brazil have implemented an “only access point” but the political reality of those countries is different. 

Since 1999 Chávez has intimidated and attacked the local media, as a result more than 53 radio stations have been closed, the oldest TV station “Radio Caracas Televisión” (RTVC) was taken off the public airwaves in 2007, and the opposition voice and the media freedom of speech have been reduced to the Internet.  What will happen if Chavez finally has the opportunity to control it?

Despite the statements, Chavez government denied the intentions of controlling and regulating the Internet “”This is not about covering anybody’s mouth. It’s about the media acting responsibly.” said Aristobulo Isturiz, a leader of Chavez’s Socialist party. But what are the standards for judging what it is responsible media and what is not?

Venezuela is one of the South American countries that have the “desacato” law that criminalizes offending public officials, and  is one of Chavez tools to control the media, almost every article o public opinion against a the government is punished. Last month Guillermo Zuluaga, owner of Globovision TV and one of the most influential critics of president Chávez, was arrested and then realized, in connection with a speech for the Inter American Press Association considered offensive to the president.

Certainly the debate will not stop here, the battle between Venezuelan Government and the media will be on the table for a long time, but what will be Chavez next move? Will he be able to censor the internet?











Categories: Venezuela

The fear of Iranian Government

March 25, 2010 Leave a comment

By Javier Velandia

The called Twitter Revolution (July 2009) showed the world the multiple violations to the freedom of speech in Iran and the power of internet and social networks in social movements.

During the past elections in Iran, the Internet played a big role as a tool for the political and in the political and social movements against the government. The multiple “twits” blog posts and text messages transmitted to the world through the Internet showed the impact of “citizen journalism”.

The situation in Iran was public to the world. Governments like the United States and the UK monitored and supported the citizen movements around the internet and criticized the censorship of the media in Iran.

For the Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadineyad the Internet was a threat. He was at risk of losing control over internal and external information and of losing his power, a risk of losing control over internal and external information and for losing the power. The multiple social movements created through the social networks went from the virtual space to Tehran’s streets and undermined the government’s credibility both within the nation and around the world in the nation and the world.

During the elections both text messages and the internet service were suspended.

After the “Twitter Revolution” the United States Government saw in social networks the perfect weapon to fight against Mahmud’s regime and take one step further  towards democracy in Iran.

This new status of social networks as political tools, is changing the way of looking at the internet and its benefits . It has emerged as the perfect scenario for debates on politics and social behaviors)and has become the new scenario for politics and social behaviors.

The biggest fear of the Iranian Government is to loose control. the image of the internet as a tool for democracy and as a space to  promote freedom of speech are the reasons why Mahmud’s Government filter  the internet with stronger controls and new technologies.

Some of the regulations of the Iranian Government include slowing down the internet access, filtering information, banning internet sites and arresting several internet activists like bloggers. with the excuse of preserving religion, morality, and social harmony



Categories: IRAN