Hugo Chavez and Free (Libre) Software

Posted 4 Oct 2004 at 23:22 UTC by atai Share This

The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, has been a headache for the United States for some time, which tried to support a coup to remove him from power in 2003. Chavez is a controversial figure whose performance as President is at best mixed. Yet he is ready to order the adaption of Free Software in government:

English translation by Google

Chavez may or may not support the Free Software philosophy as we know, or he may consider Free Software desirable as seen from the "left" of the political spectrum (using the typical definition in the US; sorry about that). However, how will the public sponsorship of political figures like Chavez (or even Castro of Cuba) impact the Free Software/Open Source Movement? How would a Chavez decree ordering the adaption of Free Software impact the advocacy of Free Software in the rest of the world, where many oppose Chavez on political grounds? How can the Free Software/Open Source Movement, which contains people of vastly diverge views on other issues, minimize the negative impact of association of political figures from both the left and right while maximizing the benefits?

microsoft's propagandists will like it, posted 5 Oct 2004 at 00:39 UTC by jbuck » (Master)

Even though Chavez is proposing to do the same as has been done in a number of other countries, we can expect Microsoft and their allies to use it to engage in more Red-baiting of the free software movement.

Ignoring that, free software adoption in Brazil, one of the world's largest and most prominent developing countries, is far more significant. Venezuela is small compared to Brazil. Also, Brazil has been partnering with India to try to roll back the "intellectual property is more important than anything" stance of WIPO. If the EU keeps going down the road it's going, the free software/open source community might want to start studying Portuguese; at minimum we might have to move servers that distribute things like libdvdcss out of the EU (though Norway appears safe for the time being).

&quoMust see&quo documentary, posted 5 Oct 2004 at 23:36 UTC by vinsci » (Master)

"Must see" documentary: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. Except in this remarkable documentary, it was:

"Two independent filmmakers were inside the presidential palace on April 11, 2002, when he was forcibly removed from office. They were also present 48 hours later when, remarkably, he returned to power amid cheering aides. Their film records what was probably history's shortest-lived coup d'├ętat."
It's almost like an "Iraq war light" and actually takes place at the same time, with the US government (yes, that's Bush & co again) holding the elected president of another nation in US military custody for two days, ready to fly him out of his country. Of course it's a complete coincidence that Venezuela has loads of oil... uh, or maybe not. Don't miss the short clips at the end of the film.

Red-Baiting, posted 6 Oct 2004 at 19:33 UTC by tk » (Observer)

Well, RMS's FSF truly has a strong leftist flavour. I'd almost suggest that the FSF tone down on its "All Software Should Be Free" rhetoric, but at the same time RMS provides some sort of Balance to the Force of ESR's right-wing crack smoking.

Besides, this `Linux is leftist' stuff is only a symptom of something more general, namely the S factor. There are bound to be people who believe that Linux is the work of Satan, or that Linux was created expressly to combat the hegemony of the Evil Micro$oft, or that Linux is a prime example of laissez-faire capitalism, etc. To deal with this problem at its root is to deal with the S factor itself. In the meantime, one can always try to treat the symptoms, by debunking such myths the slow and tiring way.

I wonder if there's a way to actively help governments adopt Linux, rather than just supporting them from the sideline. By this I mean assisting willing governments in overcoming technical difficulties, writing custom code, etc.

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