Alexandre Goncalves

Recent blog posts by Alexandre Goncalves

How to amplify the voices of marginalized communities in Brazil

During the last weeks, our friend Paulo Rogério has conducted Vojo trainings in Salvador, Brazil. The photos are amazing! I translated one of his articles about this initiative that has been connecting and empowering people from quilombola communities with no internet access on the outskirts of a Brazilian metropolis.

Vojo workshop

The youth from quilombos at Ilha de Maré are publishing news stories with their mobile phones and giving voice to the needs and concerns of their communities. Last Friday (Oct 25th), around 20 girls and boys from Porto dos Cavalos community participated in the workshop: “Vojo Brazil: amplifying Quilombola voices through mobile phones”.

What is going on in Brazil?

In recent days, Brazil has enacted its own “Spring”. It began with demonstrations in São Paulo against a 10-cent increase in bus fares. Last week, the protest was harshly repressed by the military police, but their brutality produced an unexpected outcome. The majority of the population, which had been looking with displeasure at the isolated episodes of vandalism that accompanied the demonstrations, became sympathetic to the protesters’ cause after watching the government’s violent reaction.

On Tuesday, more than 200,000 people took to the streets of the main cities across the country. In São Paulo, they were 60,000. In Rio, around 100,000. These have been the biggest demonstrations since the impeachment of Brazilian president Fernando Collor de Mello in 1992, after a corruption scandal.

The Brazilian Civil Rights Framework for the Internet

In the following interview, I speak with Carlos Souza, vice-coordinator of the Center for Technology & Society at the Getulio Vargas Foundation’s Law School in Rio de Janeiro. His center has been a key player in the efforts to pass the Civil Rights Framework for the Internet in the Brazilian National Congress. During our conversation, Dr. Souza pinpointed the main lobbies that still prevent the approval of the bill.

Considering the bill’s proposals and many diverse proponents, one can see that “ground-breaking” certainly suffices as an accurate description for the document. First, it promotes a “civil (regulatory) framework” that precedes any “criminal framework”, challenging the Latin American trend of creating internet regulations just to please the copyright lobby or the telecoms.

"The Economist" on internet activism

From the defeat of Hollywood-sponsored Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) to the flop of International Telecommunication Union’s crafty treaty, 2012 frustrated many government and company attempts to meddle with the internet. In its first 2013 edition, The Economist presents an interesting balance of what it calls “a big year for online activists”. The British magazine poses a thought-provoking question: are we witnessing the rise of a new organic political power like environmentalism in the 1960s and 1970s?

The analogy is compelling. In its dawn, the environmental movement was an umbrella term for heterogeneous groups: people concerned about nuclear plants, citizens interested in cleaning a particular river, anti-pesticide activists, and so on. Gradually, such different strands came together and eventually formed a complete political platform with a comprehensive discourse­ that went on to wield legislative and executive power – the green parties in Europe and elsewhere.

Vojo at the Boston Brazilian Independence Day Festival

Vida Verde Cooperative

Last week, Becky, Sasha, and I went to the Brazilian Independence Day Festival in Boston: a lot of Brazilian food, music and dance. I have been in the US since August after joining the CMS Program as a Master’s student and the Center of Civic Media as a research assistant. It was amazing to hear Brazilian Pop Music again and clap along the Capoeira rhythm. In Brazil, I had been working as a Science reporter for O Estado de S. Paulo since 2007. Before that, I was a computer programmer.