The Best of Latin American Infoactivism 2014


Translated by Blanca Vargas from this post in Spanish

Last year in SocialTIC we began a very nice tradition: to end the year with a list of Latin American infoactivism projects which most inspired, surprised and impacted us that year.  

The best of Latin American infoactivism for 2014 is the result of reflexion and also great debate within our SocialTIC team, with input of our colleagues from different countries in our continent and a call to the community recipient of our newsletter.

We hereby share with you the 2014 list, hoping it inspires you in using TIC for social change in our neighborhoods, cities and countries. If you have in mind a project that should be part of this post, please write to contacto@ or troll us @socialtic.

The Best Advocacy Campaign for LATAM 2014

In Nicaragua, Mision Bosawas was able to generate conscience awareness and mobilize diverse social groups in favor of the preservation of Bosawa’s ecological reserve.  A strong presence of offline actions in several Nicaraguan departments, in public plazas and through festivals, generating a documentary which was viewed by thousands in movie theatres, plus the strengthening of their online community, were key to make environment stand out as a Nicaraguan cause.

In Brazil, Media Ninja documented protests which took place previous to the the Football World Cup, and those who questioned that such event would be carried out, making visible the diverse communities present and denouncing police violence in those demonstrations.  Who finally won?Val Mudar Na Copa and OKFN made the expense for the Football Cup visible and the firms benefited with the infrastructure.

We also want to make a special mention for GIRE’s Chiapasiónate who searches to pressure the government for them to comply fully with the recommendations emitted by the CNDH regarding Susana’s case, an indigenous woman who died due to obstetric violence. After acquiring over 43,000 signatures, the government finally responded.  

The Best Citizen Construction Campaign

Young internet users from some Central and South American countries surely remember the very catchy song for this campaign: Todo a un Click (tranlsation: everything at a click).   This campaign introduced the youngest internet community into the digital citizenship, talking about “good and bad” in regard to technology and inviting them to make better decisions.

The Best Combination of Offline-Online Actions

Party and resistance actions: Rexiste. Centered on the demonstrations for #Ayotzinapa where collectives and activists showed ample solidarity, and great creativity, it is important to emphasise Rexiste’s successful call to fill the streets with the tag #It Was the State (#Fue el Estado) and occupy spaces in “posadas” (Christmas traditional parties) and at nativity scenes very popular in most Mexican homes, among other actions.

We send a round of applause to La Nacion Data for the graffiti + data viz from Open Data Day in Buenos Aires who covered characteristic buildings demographic data from the neighborhood.  To Calle Sin Acoso (a street without harassment) for the tremendous appeal achieved in Facebook, which success resulted in a national journey to put a stop of street harassment in Mexico.  And for Bolivia a mention to the pre electoral campaign Machistas Fuera de la Lista (machistas out of the list), organized by feminist activists, made it possible that two aspiring candidates for congress quit because of their involvement cases of violence against women.

The Best Linking Project between Government and Citizens

Government Challenge for the People (Retos de Gobierno para la Banda) is a proposal by Codeando Mexico by forming a partnership with the Mexican Government to launch #Retos Publicos (public challenge) this year, a platform where developers and entrepreneurs propose technical solutions for public problems.  Mexico finalized 2014 involving civic hackers in different organs of government by rewarding the application Viajes Claros ( transparent trips) which clarifies trip expenses at Mexico’s National Access to Information Institute (IFAI), also equipped with the platform under the challenge Viajes Transparentes (transparent trips).  

In this category we want to mention the project of citizen report for my neighborhood in Montevideo, whereby people are able to send reports on damage, imperfection, vandalism and other problems by access to Sistema Unico de Reclamos of IMM for follow up.  What makes this project stand out from others that are similar?  The project had an holistic vision and an adequacy of the technology FixMyStreet, neighborhood workshops were included to provide training on this tool, which has provided knowledge on its use and improvement.

The Most Inspiring Technological Project

Recognition for the most inspiring technological project goes to… the VozData!!!. For using the power of the community to open data, transforming public documents into usable information with crowdscraping and for sharing the tool CrowData so that other communities can replicate this project.

Welcoming 2015 is not possible without highlighting two superheroes of Mexican civic hacking who by forming InegiFacil (now known as GobiernoFacil) (translation: easy government) not only created the first site for search on national statistics to become a better experience than the one offered by the Mexican National Statistics Institute’s (INEGI) official portal, but they also pointed out that the code and the world can be hacked like a craft, a project at a time.

Also, Gol Político proved that football passion doesn’t blind Mexican fans from what is happening in the country (at that time, discussions and legislature approvals on telecommunication and energy). This app made it possible for users to automatically send an information message via Twitter for each football tweet they generated.

The Best Latin American Event

Not because we organized it this year, but...rumors say that #AbreLATAM14 was a great event! Besides giving continuity to Montevideo 2013 and strengthening the concept of having a dis-conference previous to the open data regional conference (organized by government), AbreLatam14 provided a space where a whole Latin american-multi disciplinary-data community reflected on the region’s data openness and use.

The Best Video for Change

The video USA & Mexico censor internet, clearly shows how “the firm belief in technology and openness” and “the compromise with freedom of expression” are hard to maintain when the site documents the abuse of violence by the police. This video makes clear how both governments worked together to bring down the site and GoDaddy.

Although there were tenths of video campaigns this year, innovation in the use of audiovisual media as a tactic to generate influence within society still remains in a constant experimental narrative. We witnessed in Mexico that El Pulso de la Republica, which is a news done in a comical manner explaining national problematic, obtained millions of visits in YouTube.  

In regard to documentary we followed Monica Gonzalez’s fascinating multimedia projects Geography of Pain and Cold in the Soul, which invite users to interact with images, space sound and testimonials to internalize realities, feelings and family struggle of those with missing people in Mexico.

The Best Tool or Electoral Project

Peruvian elections for 2014 were branded by the revelation of the collective of investigation journalists Ojo-Publico and their project Declaraciones Juradas. Ojo-Público successfully achieved an optimal technological synergy to support journalistic stories based on an open access platform informing of income declarations by the candidates.

Sudestada has a special mention for its consolidation of the Uruguayan project Quién Paga? (translation: Who Pays?) which visualizes and provides follow-up to the origin of campaign expenditure.  This project, like many other efforts for journalistic data is incubated by HackLabs.  An example of the latter is the new site for campaign expenditure lead by Andy Tow, whom, now with Electoral Route (Ruta Electoral), establishes in one site a series of visualizations for private financing in Argentinean campaigns.

The Best Civic APP (prototype)

Once again 2014 had an ample generation of civic apps, originated in local hackatons and regional efforts, such as, Developing Latin America (Desarrollando America Latina DAL) or the first edition of The Money Route (La Ruta del Dinero).  DAL’s presence this year was historical by uniting 15 countries  (welcome Venezuela, El Salvador and Nicaragua) while generating tenths of projects on civic technology.  We are happier to see that this year the winning application is chapin, from a Guatemalan team who created Chispa (Spark), an interactive game to make users aware of national civic information and making it possible for them to evaluate their knowledge.

In Mexico we want to point out two inspiring applications derived from DAL’s Apps Challenge 2014 in Mexico.  TEP Telematics on strike (Telematicos en Paro) an electronic voting system created and used (see video) by IPN students (National Politechnical  Institute) then on strike at the school, aimed for having clean and fast voting to determine among them length for shutdown of activities. Another application which took technology and civic development to new frontiers was GUA, a project searching to achieve educational software for the treatment of patients with language problems, it includes a statistical registry per patient providing therapists with awareness of the different degrees of capability development in their patients.

Lastly, we want to highlight those governmental programs promoting spaces for creation (and to implement!!!) civic technology based on government open data. Public programs like from Chile, encourage openess and use of data plus taking advantage of citizens’ talent to improve on useful solutions for society.  As an example, Drugstores (!Farmacias), an application for easily searching drugstores work shift availability all over Chile making it possible for citizens to access at any time from diverse mobile devices.

The End… of 2014

In SocialTIC we believe that actions for social change are strategically strengthened by the use of TIC and open data.  Each year we see that technical communities, civic-social and activists increase and strengthen their capabilities. This 2014 we have seen with great longing  a major Latin American dialogue, fundamental in a learning process from one another and improvement of our tactics and civic technology.  We firmly believe it is important that all of the continent know about the project La Digna Rabia (translation: Dignified Rage) which has been compiled with accounts and experiences from young Central American activists, we are united by awareness and indignation to continue working everyday towards changing our reality.

We close this annual recount with symbols of struggle, hope and creativity. In the face of tragedy, impunity and hopelessness present in Mexico, where thousands of families have suffered the disappearance of their relatives, what we see as only solutions possible is a society who is active, demanding and showing proposals. It depends strongly on groups of citizens to stop the atrocities lived on a day to day basis and avoid that they are forgotten, inasmuch as, ways to devise, invent and implement participation mechanisms so the voice of the victims is heard, processes of justice are not only observed but dutifully enforced and that the State’s Human Rights (Estado de Derecho) is a livable reality. With the Ayotzinapa’s tragedy, it is evident that we have the creativity to express ourselves (see: Illustrators with Ayotzinapa, Rexiste, Images out loud, art resists) and we hope that in 2015 we will have the strategy, collaboration and strength to make visible, create and implement more actions for change.