Women in the new Web 2.0 political world in Ecuador

BlogHer Original Post

I read last week from Global Voices that politicians in Ecuador have turned to blogs and YouTube to communicate with the general population, as cyber culture and internet cafes become more popular. It was fascinating to look a little bit deeper and to watch some of the video speeches and debates. Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa pays homage to Max Headroom in a funny, low-budget YouTube clip promoting his new blog; in another video, he asks everyone to use free software. He is encouraging the entire country to start blogging and using social networks and YouTube for the power of collective action. It's really interesting to see the head of a country that's bought into the Web 2.0 message ("Web dos punto cero") so completely that it is trying to write in guarantees of free access and expression into its new constitution.

The Acuerdo Pais party (President Correa's party, as well) has a really nice web site, with photos of the candidates as well as photos of their opposition, and a sample ballot which includes the photos. Each candidate's photo links to their blog and to video clips of their debates with opposing candidates. It seems like a great idea, and rather than just speeches or lists of their positions on various issues, you get to see each candidate in action. There's also a map of the country, so you can click on your region and see who's running for office. It's very slick!

Here, you can see a blog and some video clips from Monica Chuji, candidate for the National Constituent Assembly for the Alianza País party, and an activist for human rights for the indigenous population of Ecuador. Chuji, as well as Correa, compares Web 2.0 internet tools to radio, as tools for free public expression. In this video she debates another candidate, Patricia Sánchez from the right-wing Social Christian party, >on freedom of speech and constitutional law.

Sánchez argues that no one should be able to criticize public officials unless they've been legally proven to be responsible for some crime. Chuji emphatically declares that democracy depends on the right to free expression, including criticizing the government, and that it also depends on citizen access to the creation of media, like TV and radio as well as the Internet.

Rosana Queirolo, another candidate for the Asamblea Constituyente in Ecuador, is campaigning on a platform of economic incentives for Ecuadoreans who have emigrated to be able to return, and to have housing and jobs, and to facilitate their legal and safe return to visit family members. She is also a strong advocate of the protection of the environment and of measures to save the forests of Ecuador.

Many other women are running for office and commenting on the elections coming up September 30th, and they're videoblogging too -- women like Cristina Reyes, Irina Bown, Monica Bonilla, and Sigrid Vásconez, who is further profiled on somosdemocracia.org. And here's another brief debate between Martha Roldos and Amanda Arboleda.

Here is more background on the political situation in Ecuador and on the Constituent Assembly elections, from a very left-leaning source, Ecuador Rebelde:

Unlike previous movements, the current citizens' movement is made up of urban middle classes that indulged themselves in consumerism with the neoliberal model and now demand a working democracy. These sectors have benefited from dollarization and above all from the remittances sent by emigrants. Between 2000 and 2005, two million Ecuadorians—out of a population of twelve million—left the country. In 2006, they sent home US$3 billion, a fabulous sum that rivals the annual US$3.6 billion from oil sales, Ecuador's most important export. That money arrives directly to families and lubricates mall-based consumption ... the middle-class sectors want the political system to work with the same transparency with which they believe the market works.

Meanwhile, in the greater Ecuadorean blogosphere... Sandra Navarro, is writing extensively about economic reform and about the elections. She blogs about women in politics and business in Ecuador, and is often very funny in her writing, not sticking to dry facts as she makes fun of Correa for some of his rude comments. On her blog you can find the details of the proposed Constitutional reforms, like these articles on civil rights -- which, you might note, declare that human life begins at conception. A final note on the power of web 2.0, I found Sandra's blog by looking at Ecuador on twittermap.com, and found her twitter profile as "almapirata" and then a link to her blog.

I'd like to recommend another Web 2.0 tool to the Ecuadorean blogosophere, dotsub. With this nifty tool, they could upload their debates and video clips, put a Creative Commons License on them , and people could very easily subtitle them in other languages.

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