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[liberationtech] Victeams- advise

Patricia Ortiz patricia at
Mon Sep 20 09:23:11 PDT 2010

Hi Mary,

Thank you for your
response. I agree that the tools you mention are great, but we found
that the tool needed to be local and locally managed in order to
succeed. First, the language barrier, then,
gaining the users trust is a very *pro-active *task. You'd think that
because it is so, maybe the signals indicate that it is not
needed or wanted. That is not the case, the problem is a culture of
victimization, mistrust and general apathy as a result of years of
frustration. We've entered a pattern where citizen empowerment feels
impossible. Ten years of generating government dependency and complete lack
of public policies. Being an oil-producing country, I'd have to say that
populism has always been around as a civil/ political culture.

Violence is probably the most damaging social problem, it leaves citizens
completely marginalized and isolated, each within their own home and fear.
Breaking such barrier, specially with technology, is not easy.

Venezuela is just entering the era of Social Innovation through Technology
(aren't we all? :) ). Along with us, other big projects in the technology
wave include election-monitoring platforms (we're having the Senate
Elections in a week) and big Twitter accounts by leaders on both sides.

So, besides the language barrier and the Engagement, other challenges need
to be faced locally. SMS reporting can be expensive on both the user and us,
so we need to locally negotiate with the big Telephone companies, many which
are weary to support such a cause. Then its getting past the self-censorship
barrier, and of course, back to point one, Outreach and Engagement. A widget
that can be placed in any site is really helping market us, since the 2
largest digital news sites have agreed to put it in their website for their
readers to report directly from their page.

Community organizing and creating tools to help the population gain greater
benefit out of the tool is also part of the strategy, for which we are
partnering with other organizations that work in this arena.

Then there's the political/ legal aspect: Foreign organizations are very
limited in Venezuela, if allowed at all. You can't receive international aid
as an NGO, except by local representatives, if they exist and are admitted
by the Government (such as EMbassy grants). Because of the nature of our
work, we could be accused of slander, a call to disobedience and public
disruption, etc. For this, the technological and security aspect needs to be
well addressed, as well as the crime-reporting methodology.

I'd love to discuss it further, even though its in spanish, check it out: (its about to change to a new version)

All the best, and thank you!

Patricia Ortiz

On Mon, Sep 20, 2010 at 8:59 AM, Mary Joyce <marycjoyce at> wrote:

> Hi Patricia,
> My first thought is whether it is necessary to build a new digital
> monitoring tool.  There are already FrontlineSMS and RapidSMS to aggregate
> SMS data and Ushahidi, which aggregates SMS as well as any RSS stream (I
> believe).  It might be possible to fill the needs of VicTEAMS with an
> existing tool, which would save time and money and result is a more
> resilient tool (more testing, move developers, fewer bugs).
> Could you explain more about the specific needs of VicTEAMS and why you are
> deciding to develop a new tool?
> Best,
> Mary
> On Sun, Sep 19, 2010 at 8:27 PM, Patricia Ortiz <patricia at>wrote:
>> Hello all,
>> I've followed your latest discussions on LT which have encouraged me to
>> write and ask for your... advise! I represent VicTEAMS, a crime mapping
>> initiative in Venezuela. Statistics around crime are highly obscure and
>> censored in Venezuela, and we're trying to break through with user generated
>> crime-reports on a mapping platform (over 60% of victims never report, since
>> there is an over 90% impunity rate and almost half of the crime gangs have a
>> law-enforcement officer involved.) There's a post on the LT blog. I don't
>> want to go into detail here in case its not appropriate; I'm writing because
>> we are just starting of, we're a very small team with no funding yet and
>> wanting experienced advise.
>> Most respectable organizations in Venezuela that deal with Human Rights
>> and Violence/ Victimization issues have backed us up on an advisory level,
>> but because of the nature of it
>> (technology based organizations have just started, many around election process with the upcoming elections.),
>> we wanted international help too, as it is planed for VicTEAMS to become an
>> replicable tool in other countries.
>> Here's a little peak on the situation:
>> If any of you would be interested on discussing it, please let me know.
>> Patricia Ortiz
>> --
>> Patricia Ortiz Keme
>> phone: 650 995 3512
>> email: patricia at
>> portizkeme at
>> _______________________________________________
>> liberationtech mailing list
>> liberationtech at
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> --
> Founder | The Meta-Activism Project  |
> "Digital Activism Decoded"  |  New Book Drops in Summer 2010
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Patricia Ortiz Keme
phone: 650 995 3512
email: patricia at
portizkeme at
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