I spent most of the week on mission, attending an international seminar on Technology and Citizen Participation, co-organized by UNDP México and the Electoral and Citizen Participation Institute of the State of Jalisco in México. I have already shared my back to office report will all concerned parties.
As mentioned in the latter, I met Gigi Ibrahim, a 24 year old Egyptian blogger who declared herself as a revolutionary socialist while making her speech at the gatherings. She also said that many activists like her in Cairo were organizing protest meetings for several years and usually only 200 hundred people or so showed up -and always the same 200 hundred people.
So the 25 January protest, which kick-started the revolution, was no different in their eyes. There we thus very surprised when so many people did actually showed up and the subsequent snow ball effect. They never saw it coming!
According to Gigi, one of the key factors that made the “revolution” possible was Tunisia as it showed to people in Egypt that long-term authoritarian regimes can indeed be toppled from the bottom-up. The second key factor in her view was the internal conditions on the country where poverty and inequality were pervasive combined with the fact that the people were looking for a better future for themselves.
She indicated that the participation of workers was essential in the process. All in all, the role that social networks played was minor. Gigi suggested, at the meeting as well as in other interventions, that social networks are best to attract international attention -but not to mobilize large demonstrations and protests inside the country. SMS is more effective here but, she says, still not the critical tool.
I have not been in Guadalajara for over 20 years now. Needless to say, the city has changed dramatically. Guadalajara, which has a population of around 6 million people, is known as the “Silicon Valley” of México. Companies such as Intel. IBM, Hewlett Packard, Oracle, Hitachi, etc. has a large presence in the area, a presence that started to developed after the 1994 approval of NAFTA. Competition with China has had some impact on the sector but Guadalajara’s proximity to the US has helped -although the sector had to specialized in some areas of ICT.
The city ranks among the top 10 richest cities in Latin America and it exports close to 20 billion USD to the US. However, poverty and inequality are still pervasive. Being that as it may, so far Guadalajara have remained immune to the drug related violence that affects most of the the Northern states of the country. Some local observers pinpoint that this is so since many of the families of the “narcos” happen to live in the City or its surroundings…
While the Macedonia saga countries to unfold in slow motion, I finally got confirmation from UNDP Caracas that the government has approved the proposal for launching a e-governance programme in the country. Now the CO is requesting a mission from DGG to finalize policy details and launch the project.