Her Voz

Las Americas: Blog Response

I hope everyone enjoyed the Thanksgiving Holiday! Fortunately for my family, we were able to relax in the heat and enjoy the ocean view from our Aunt’s apartment.

Cynthia, also known as CrazyKid38, blogged “Now I must say that the only thing that I really knew about Costa Rica before checking out Global Voices is that the weather will be nicer there in March than it will be here.” (Interesting I thought.) Its sort of the same knowledge I knew before my trip to the Dominican Republic. The only thing I could count on was the weather was nicer than it has been here in the Capital.

My only regret is not having read her blog earlier!

The Global Voices link opened up a resource channel that would have far more prepared me for the energy crisis (electrical outages for more than twelve hours a day), public protests of building a cement factory in the historical National Park called Los Haitises and the variations of language and people you see––from Haitian construction workers speaking Creole to the Korean business owners and Dominican citizens and officials.

In the same style CrazyKid38 wrote her blog, I would have written those three issues as points I didn’t know. Unfortunately, I left unwarned about the island’s current conditions. Its never too late. Here’s what I learned, after my trip and reading Global Voices:

1. The electrical outages are due to half of the electrical plants being out of service, resulting in a deficit of more than 600 Megawatts. Marazini, Vice President of the Dominican Corporation of State Electric Companies, has traveled to South Korea in efforts to get technical assistance. A number of homeowners are furious as a results of high energy bills and barely present resources.
2. The cement factory the government previously decided to construct in a protected area of the National Park Los Haitises, has been canceled. Wow. I guess the public protests and radio debates that filled the island airwaves, which I experienced first hand, worked. Its good to see a government listen to its citizens.
3. There are over 1 million Haitian immigrants that fill the streets of the Dominican Republic. From the construction workers, beggars on the streets to Magna Cum Laude graduates Haitians cross the border each year in search of resources and improvements in living environments.

My next read will be about Guatemala. This time it will be prior reading to prepare for a spring vacation/family visit. I hope I learn something new.

Global Connections

Thursday night, I listened intently as Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas broadcasted the nightly news of Latin America — nothing from the norm of any night at 6:00 p.m. in my house. Except this night Noticiero Univision (Univision News) captured my attention even more. Univision featured the National Commission for the Society of Information and Knowledge (NCSIK) president, Jose Rafael Vargas, reporting a 69.4 percent internet-access increase in the Dominican Republic. Over two-million Dominicans have joined the world online this past year, which is a triumphant victory for the impoverished island.

(It would be no surprise I’d listen closely to news about the Dominican Republic, but this time the news had captured my attention even more.)

Earlier in the day, I followed the Twitter feeds that covered the Center for Social Impact Communication’s (CSIC) panel discussion at Georgetown University. The topic of the discussion was the Pan-African role of digital communications and social media (key points were posted online for those not able to attend).

The panelists offered facts including, “internet growth rate in Africa is about 800 percent,” which proved to be pretty impressive, but is really only a five percent penetration rate in Africa. The highlight of my reading was a comment by Rohit Bhargava. Founding member of the 360 Digital Influence Team at Ogilvy and author of award-winning publications, Bhargava stated, “the future of ‘Brand Africa’-continues to see rise of individual stories, different from the continent as a whole.”

Could this be the same around the world and not just in Africa? Is there a worldwide increase of individuals joining online discussions and sharing their individual stories? Yes, and now more than ever. The numbers presented by the NCSIK president and panelist members at the CSIC discussion had proven this fact to be true.

It became more relevant when I thought how this personally related to me. Just this month, my cousin — a new member of Facebook en Español — had traveled to Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala and posted very beautiful images on his Facebook account of Lake Solola. Separated by thousands of miles, we shared real-time messages about our lives and experiences; just like we were chatting at the neighborhood bus stop during the good-old days.

The more and more I follow this new social media trend, my interests become centered on global development. The online communities we are forming are not only with our neighbors and closest friends, but with individuals from many different walks of life and geographical locations. These individuals share common interests and stories, yet live diverse lives.

I hope the web development successes of the Dominican Republic and Pan-Africa translates into other geographic locations!