cisler on Tue, 30 Mar 1999 22:01:01 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Guns, war, blank screens

Out from behind the screen...and back again

by Steve Cisler <> March 29, 1999

After a week on the road and offline, I'm immersed in the media: newspaper,
NPR, mailing lists, streaming audio reports, web discussions, and phone
calls. It's all related to the war in the Balkans and to events in Paraguay,
not to the Dow hitting 10,000. 

In two different parts of the world my friends' screens have gone blank, but
it's just a side effect of the killing and bombing in both locations.  The
government in Yugoslavia closed down B92 radio and its counterpart in
Pristina, but after a while they began rebroadcasting <> using
streaming audio to Holland which was re-broadcast back to Serbia. Before the
shutdown, B92 had over 1.5 million listeners.  Reports are coming in from
Greece, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovena, Russia, and second hand from Kosovo with
pleas, rants, accounts, and calls for action.  This is a war with many more
nuances than our invasions of Panama, the Gulf War, or the recent bombings in
Iraq. It is more nuanced because of the various channels of media.  In spite
of spin control here in the U.S. and in Brussels at NATO headquarters and
severe repression of media sources in Yugoslavia, words are getting out. Few
of us have the luxury of seeing it as a black/white situation. 

The tragedy in Europe has overshadowed another one taking place in Latin
America. I spent a couple of weeks working on community technology centers
(Amic@s) in Asunción, Paraguay in September 1999.  I recently received a long
message from the coordinator, Sergio Aranda, who has been working with
community groups to start up more technology centers in residential
neighborhoods around the city. 

March 23 was to be the day for the opening of a fourth center, but Mayor Burt
had to go out of the country on a trip and so they moved it up a few days.
Luckily, the cereemoney was a big success because on the 23 of March the Vice
President of Paraguay was assasinated. Peaceful protests followed where a
huge crowd of young people gathered in front of government buildings.  Police
attqcked the students, and then a group of snipers on the buildings above
opened fire on the crowd. The police stood by! The Mayor, however, had
anticipated a military attack on the student protest and he had all the big
garbage trucks come out and block the streets.  Tanks approached but could
not get around the trucks or municipal bulldozers.  The the people began
throwing things at the tanks: stones and even radios! and the armor returned
to the barracks.  The snipers were on the roof of the ISP that provids
service to the telecenters (Amic@s), and they totally messed up the antenna
arrays that got a high speed wireless feed.  So my friend and his centers
were off the air until the crisis passed.  Now he is worried that he won'b be
able to open the other centers. 

Using the Asset-based community development techniques he had groups of local
people to participate for the first time in a planning committee for these
centers which are on hold.  His goal is to keep the groups together until the
technology can be deployed again after things settle down. That may be
starting to happen. There's a new president today, and the old one resigned
and got asylum in Brazil. His ally, a former general named Oviedo, fled to
Argentia and was also given asylum. There is a lot of corruption in Paraguay,
and some thought Oviedo had illegal financial dealings with top Argentine

My friend was supposed to present his project at the Internet Society
conference in June, but he probably won't be able to attend. I will take his
place if he is unable to leave Paraguay. It won't be the same. Paraguay search engine with links to sources in Spanish and
Guarani.  Amic@s centers in Paraguay  B92 Belgrade  Archive of nettime postings

Steve Cisler
4415 Tilbury Drive, San Jose, CA 95130
(408) 379 9076
"There are some places where the road keeps going."
-Bud Parker.

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