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[News] Latin American Relies on Free Software to Restore Equality

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LATIN AMERICA: Campus Party to Bridge Digital Gap

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| There are many ways to expand the use of free software, said Saravia. He 
| pointed out, for example, that governments are increasingly adopting open  
| source software, and taking political decisions to foment its use. Another is 
| by means of ordinary people, who he said will increasingly use free software, 
| as they become familiar with its advantages.   



Software libre conquista América Latina!

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| If you can read Spanish, the Madrid-based newspaper Público has come out with
| a nice article which surveys the Latin American open source movement: Linux
| conquista América Latina. [...] Similar to North by South’s recent
| presentation at GOSCON, the article surveys the development of free software
| in each of the Latin American countries adopting free software: Venezuela,
| Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Cuba, Uruguay.


Viva El Software Libre!

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| So if you ever need to know about free software in Belize or about the
| Fundación Código Libre Dominicano, you know where to go. Two countries stand
| out: Brazil (no surprise) and Uruguay (a big surprise, for me at least),
| which has more than half a dozen organisations supporting free software.


Why Brazil Loves Linux

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| Brazil imported the anti-Microsoft stance common in American geeks, but on
| top of the usual arguments Microsoft is foreign. This adds fuel to the flame.
| To the Brazilian Microsoft hater, not only there is an “evil monopoly”, but
| its profits are repatriated and its jobs are elsewhere. Practices like the
| 3-program limitation on Vista Starter further erode good will (Brazilians
| call it the “castrated Windows” among other colorful names). Add a dash of
| anti-American sentiment and you’ve got some serious resistance. This fiery
| mood has a strong influence, from the teenager hanging out in #hackers on
| Brasnet to IT departments to the federal government. Even in a rational
| self-interest analysis, one might rightly point out that if free/open source
| software (FOSS) were to wipe out Windows, negative effects on Brazil’s
| economy are likely minimal. The wealth, jobs, and opportunity created by
| Microsoft aren’t in Brazil (productivity gains might be, but that’s a whole
| different argument). The trade offs of a potential Linux/Google take over are
| different when there’s no national off-the-shelf software industry, plus
| Google’s revenue model works beautifully in a developing country. This mix of
| ideological and rational arguments torpedoes Microsoft’s support.


Free Software in Brazil: Analysis & Interview with Marcos Mazoni

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| Given the vast institutional shifts to free software that have occurred, it
| is hard to imagine an economical way to rollback these projects — not only
| the changes within state-owned IT firms but the many other projects that
| Brazil has launched with free software: the massive Digital Inclusion
| project, the educational Linux projects as well as the general use of open
| source wikis, project management software, groupware, and so on.    


Free Software vs. the Tax Man

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| Slashdot recently linked to this comparison of the cost of Windows in Brazil
| and the US. This brings to mind a point I think I’ve seen Mike make: beyond
| the general point that libertarians should celebrate free software because
| it’s an example of non-coercive production of public goods, libertarians also
| have reasons to like free software because it’s more resistant to the
| coercive power of the state. When software is produced by a commercial
| company and sold in the marketplace, it’s relatively easy for the state to
| tax and regulate it. Commercial companies tend to be reflexively law-abiding,
| and they can afford the lawyers necessary to collect taxes or comply with
| complex regulatory schemes.        
| In contrast, free software will prove strongly resistant to state
| interference. Because virtually everyone associated with a free software
| project is a volunteer, the state cannot easily compel them to participate in
| tax and regulatory schemes. Such projects are likely to react to any attempt
| to tax or regulate them is likely to be met with passive resistance: people
| will stop contributing entirely rather than waste time dealing with the
| government.      
| Hence, free software thus has the salutary effect of depriving the state of
| tax revenue. But even better, free software is likely to prove extremely
| resistant to state efforts to build privacy-violating features into software
| systems.  



Ecuador: A Weekend of Free Software Throughout the Country

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| In Ecuador, this event gathered a lot of attention, especially since the
| President of the Republic, Rafael Correa, by means of decree No. 1014 of
| April 10, 2008, ruled that the computers in the public administration should
| utilize free software. This decree fulfills a promise made in a speech in
| 2007 that would migrate all of the country's computers to these free systems.


Microsoft gouging Brazilians for 20 percent of income

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| Ever wonder why Brazil and other BRIC countries are so hot on open source,
| including Linux? Gustavo Duarte gives several reasons, not the least of which
| is the punitive pricing that Microsoft inflicts on these developing markets.  
| In the case of Brazil, Microsoft pillages businesses to the tune of 20.1
| percent and consumers at a 7.8 percent clip. Some people pay tithing to their
| church; Brazilians are asked to pay a tithe to Microsoft. Perhaps this is
| indicative of Microsoft's self-important belief?  


Peru: Software Libre

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| The software industry's pressure on the Government to crack down on piracy,
| unlike that from the movie industry, is likely to cause them far deeper
| losses as customers are forced to discover free alternatives.  
| News of universities in Peru taking advantage of these free, “open source”
| alternatives might mean this change is already on the way, potentially saving
| the Peruvian economy hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Thousands of
| graduates highly-trained in open source technologies might lead to Peru's
| institutions rejecting hard-sold and expensive lock-in agreements with
| companies such as Microsoft when the same software, often of equal or greater
| quality, is available for free.      
| El Comercio reports that universities in Abancay, Arequipa, Ayacucho, Cerro
| de Pasco, Chiclayo, Huancayo, Lima, Piura, Puno, Tacna and Trujillo, are now
| giving classes and workshops in open source alternatives.  


South America warms to Open Source

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| In South American countries, as in most other areas of the world, the
| government is by far the biggest purchaser of software. Thus the Open Source
| trend that is now established in the government sector across the continent
| will doubtless spur Open Source adoption in the private sector.  
| There are a variety of motives for Open Source adoption in play in there,
| from the reduction in software costs to the desire to provide a "leg-up" to
| the local software industry. However, the motivation of the Peruvian
| government is unique in that the Peruvian supporters of the bill see "Open
| Source" as a citizen's right. The ownership and responsibility for the use of
| data and software have become a political issue in Peru.    
| This is an idea that is unlikely to go away.


South American Software Development

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| Who ultimately forced Sun to open-source Java? Was it external pressure,
| either from Java developers or the open-source community? Or was it internal,
| perhaps a mandate from CEO Jonathan Schwartz?  
| Answer: None of the above. According to Jonathan himself, it was Brazil.


Success for free software in Latin America!

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| And today was the day that the president elect pronounced himself in
| favor of migrating to free software!
| [...]
| Ecuador is a small country, with a population hovering around 13
| million inhabitants. About 80% of the population is poor. A good
| half of the entire population barely has resources to eat.
| [...]
| Evidently, monopoly rents (licenses) in proprietary software are
| simply incompatible with our economy. If we want to take advantage
| of computers, our only options are the GNU and Linux systems ands
| oftware out there. Otherwise, we'll be attempting to out-compete
| the competition, using their ground rules. Ha!


Ecuador migrates to Free Software and Open Standards

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| On April 10, 2008, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa Delgado signed a decree
| ordering that the software used by public administrations in the country be
| free software (and implicitly based on open standards). Fuller story in
| Spanish...  


Venezuela Launches Sale of "Bolivarian" Computers

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| The new computers will run the open-source Linux operating system
| and will first be used inside the government "missions" and state
| companies and institutions but eventually are expected to be sold
| across Venezuela and Latin America.

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