Report to May First / People Link about Argentina

(just posted to the May First / People Link support wiki as part of a conversation about the idea of starting an MF/PL node in Argentina)

Hi Jamie. I came to the US last week.

Short response: there are no concrete plans to start an MFPL node in Argentina, though there is interest from at least one group (Altermundi / Codigo Sur) in collaborating with MFPL.

Long response:

Based on my experiences at the libre software events I participated in, and in-depth conversation with people about May First / People Link, I narrowed my focus to Altermundi, a group of about 6 people, including the 3 Argentines that work for CodigoSur. Nico E. and Alejandro L. were the people with whom the conversation about starting a May First / People Link node progressed the most. Nico participated in part of the MFPL annual membership meeting, and left some comments on the etherpad that was used during that meeting. He suggested that it might make more sense to use Codigo Sur’s name in Latin America (rather than May First / People Link), since they’re already known in Latin America for providing web development services to community organizations, and other related work. Nico also wondered how MFPL can function with so many open support tickets. The Altermundi folks are participating in the creation of the IEX (Internet Exchange, a.k.a. NAP) in Córdoba, and so starting in 2013 they might have servers plugged in directly to the Internet backbone.

I suggested to Nico and Alejandro that perhaps they could pay for a server to put in the Córdoba IEX by building a base of MFPL members in Argentina, and once those people and groups start paying dues, request some money from MFPL to pay some or all of the cost of the server hardware.

In general, people I talked with seemed enthusiastic about the existence of MFPL, recognizing that such an organization doesn’t currently exist in Argentina (or, seemingly, Paraguay, Uruguay, or Chile). I asked some people if they would pay US$ 100/year for membership including hosting, and that amount seemed reasonable to people who currently pay for servers, and beyond the budget of some people and groups.

Slightly similar groups were mentioned: Saravá in Brazil (https://www.sarava.org/) and El Grupo Cooperativo de las Indias in Uruguay and Spain (http://grupolasindias.coop/). I also met up with some Lorea developers in Buenos Aires (http://www.lorea.org) and learned about their effort to build Anillo Sur as a vibrant Latin American online social network using Lorea (http://www.anillosur.cc). I also met Bernardo Gutiérrez, who focuses on techno-political techniques of social movements in Spain and Brazil (http://futuramedia.net/).

Two of the most active areas in Argentina right now are community wireless networks (redes libres) and libre software. These interplay with two government initiatives: Conectar Igualdad, which has distributed over 2 million netbooks to primary and secondary school students in recent years; and Argentina Conectada, which aims to increase Internet access and bandwidth throughout the country. On a continental level, the UnaSur project aims to build a fiber optic ring in and around Latin America, and connect directly to Africa and Europe instead of going through Miami and New York.
Map of proposed fiber optic ring: http://comunicacionpopular.com.ar/unasur-desarrolla-un-mega-anillo-de-fibra-optica-que-pondra-fin-a-la-dependencia-internet-con-eeuu/
Video about proposed fiber optic ring: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eagd5HTP-NQ

There’s a strong tradition of worker cooperatives in Argentina, though there’s a sense that many cooperatives are just fronts for non-democratic, capitalist enterprises. At any rate, the presence of cooperatives and the legal frameworks for cooperatives are in place.

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