Internet Access Declared a Human Right in Guatemalan Village
By Renata Avila
In the indigenous village of Santiago Atitlan, Internet access has been declared “a human right” by both inhabitants and local authorities. Authorities are also implementing a plan to provide free community Wi-Fi to the entire population so that everyone can benefit from it and exercise their rights.
The concepts of community and sharing are entrenched in the daily life of indigenous people in Guatemala. Common spaces, open doors, collaboration and sharing are the main characteristics of these communities, especially among small linguistic communities such as the Mayan Tzutuhil indigenous group in the Highlands of Guatemala. As cultures evolve and adapt to new discoveries in science and technology, indigenous cultures are embracing new technologies and adapting their use to accord with traditional principles. Such is the case with Internet access.
The youth of Santiago Atitlan pro-actively use digital tools. Their programme I respond! and you? (Yo Respondo, y Tu?) [es] is broadcast via the Internet and local cable TV and promoted throughout social networks. There they host dialogues discussing local problems, such as recycling and other ecological issues.
The group dedicated a show to the community Wi-Fi project once the first phase was ready. During the episode, called “Internet… my human right”, Frank La Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, was invited to launch the community Wi-Fi. The Special Rapporteur congratulated the community and celebrated that Internet access is recognized as an effective tool to exercise and enforce other rights.
Tags: Citizen Media , Education , Feature , Guatemala , Human Rights , Indigenous , Latin America , Spanish , Technology
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