Venezuela and Free Software

An announcement about the Venezuelan government offering free software classes was posted a mailing list I am on. It was reproduced from a government web site and said that Open Source Software courses were to begin on Monday.

I went to look at the original announcement and was surprised to see it was in English. Here is part of the announcement.

A program to train over 400 thousand people in open source software - as part of Mission Science - will start on Monday, June 12 in Venezuela. This training program will be carried out by the National Center of Information Technologies (CNTI, Spanish acronym). CNTI's President, Jorge Berrizbeitia, explained that the first goal is to train the population that does not know anything about this field.

Brazil, Venezuela's neighbor to the south, has already embraced Open Source Software in a big way and there is quite a bit of cooperation between Venezuela and Brazil these days so it wasn't a total surprise to me but I wanted to know how serious they were so I looked up CNTI. CNTI is part of the Ministry of Science and Technology which is a cabinet-level agency.

I went to CNTI's web site and was surprised. About 2/3 of the way down the page there is a section on Software Libre (free software). It includes five graphics labeled Fundimentals, Legal Base, Academia, Documentation, and Advances. In these sections you will find more information including PDFs of the laws. Note that all of this is in Spanish.

To me, this is just another example of how many governments understand the advantages of free software (I mean that in both the sense of price and in the sense of freedom) and understand that government participation in helping their citizens get on the Open Source Software bandwagon will benefit everyone.

fyl - Sun, 2006-06-11 06:33.

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Venezuela and free software

As everything lately in this country... pure bull! Goebbel's pupil is spending enourmous amounts of money trying to convince the world that we are going directly to paradise, but when you get to the bone, you find out what it's all about... pure bull.
If you follow the links in CNTI's web site you get to one about Formacion en Linea (online studies) where you can clearly see on the lower right side:
"Esta pagina se ve mejor con INTERNET EXPLORER" (this page is better seen with...) ... and talking about free sofware! They probably made the page with Microsoft's "Front Page" application.

Nels - Delgado (not verified) - Sat, 2006-07-15 06:14.

Just in case you don't know,

Just in case you don't know, the current venezuelan president (hugo chavez) is nothing more than a proto-dictator, following the steps of Fidel Castro, taking our country off the cliff, and all of us true venezuelans with it.
As for "governments understand the advantages of free software" I don' believe for a second the current pseudo-comunist government understands anything besides how to steal more oil (and money) to give out to cuba, bolivia etc.
Far from being good toward the adoption of free software in venezuela, this half cooked plan will backfire in two ways: first, they will not be able to make it work, simply because they lack the competence to make it so.
And second, when eventually chavez is thrown out of office, there will be an asociation of ideas between comunist totalitarian regimes and FOSS, so everyone may go back to microsoft.

Lebrun (not verified) - M - , 2006-06-12 07:52.

A esto es lo que llamamos en

A esto es lo que llamamos en Venezuela "UN DISOCIADO"...... Un dictador que le ofrece libertad a su pueblo.... que poco sabes hermano.

P.D. Te escribo en Español porque este es mi idioma.

Feijóo Jiménez (not verified) - Tue, 2006-06-20 18:17.

A esto es lo que llamamos en

El tema de este post es el software libre, no los sistemas políticos que predominen o no en Venezuela.
En mi caso tengo la experiencia de haber trabajado durante el pasado gobierno de Rafael Caldera en una de las más importantes corporaciones estatales de este país y haber visto a los abogados de Microsoft obligar a los directivos a firmar contratos de exclusividad para la instalación de todo el software usado por la empresa.
Gracias al presidente Chavez ahora existe la posibilidad de romper ese "matrimonio obligado" con Microsoft y otras empresas monopólicas y darle la oportunidad a cientos de programadores independientes para que elaboren y suministren al Gobierno el software que requieren las instituciones públicas, universidades, ministerios, hospitales y demás organismos del Estado venezolano.
En Venezuela existe una gran cantidad de programadores que ahora pueden trabajar como microempresarios y ofrecer sus productos, sin tener que someterse al monopolio y las presiones legales que durante años establecieron empresas como Microsoft, Oracle, IBM y otras que prácticamente se habían adueñado de los sistemas informáticos públicos.
La "Mision Ciencia", creada por el gobierno, apoya a estos programadores y los estimula a organizarse en microempresas tecnológicas, algo que hace apenas siete años hubiera sido considerado como una especie "delito contra la sociedad" por parte de los anteriores gobernantes.
Por otra parte, la meta de capacitar a 400 mil personas en uso de software libre no es tan irreal como piensan algunos, pues en primer lugar se busca formar a gente que nunca ha usado una computadora y por lo tanto no está "enviciada" con el uso de Windows.
En mi ciudad tenemos varias empresas privadas que están usando Linux y no han tenido mayores problemas para capacitar a sus empleados en el uso de esas computadoras.
También algunas universidades públicas y privadas se han mudado a Linux desde el año 2005, no solo a nivel administrativo, sino también a nivel de sus laboratorios y centros de investigación.
De hecho, ha sido más facil para ellos entrenar a quienes nunca usaron Windows que a quienes tenían experiencia previa con el sistema de Bill Gates.
Creo que esto de intentar menospreciar el uso del Software libre en Venezuela en base a un "apoyo o rechazo" al presidente Chavez es como intentar chocolate con limonada y no le hace bien al debate que debemos abrir sobre este tema tan importante.
Basta con ver el ejemplo europeo, incluyendo la experiencia de Linux Guadalinex, que es soportado por un gobierno local de España y las experiencias mexicanas introduciendo Linux en las escuelas estatales. También basta ver la experiencia de la India y otros países "capitalistas".
Venezuela simplemente está buscando un rumbo similar al de muchos países en desarrollo, que han entendido que la indepedencia educativa y tecnológica es un paso importante para su futuro desarrollo económico y social.
Por otra parte, el Gobierno de Chávez nunca ha hablado de "eliminar" al software propietario y sacarlo de la libre competencia. Lo que ha dicho es que el software libre debe tener prioridad por razones de soberanía, seguridad del Estado, costos y otras ventajas.
Sin embargo, en los casos en que no haya alternativas libres, sin duda se contratará o comprarán licencias de programas comerciales, incluyendo los de Microsoft.
Por último, debo lamentar que en la actual discusión de la nueva Ley de Sistemas de Información que adelanta la Asamblea Nacional se estén presentando denuncias muy serias sobre la intromisión de abogados y asesores de Microsoft.
Ellos intentan desvirtuar esta ley e introducir elementos que afectarán a la larga la libre competencia entre el software libre y el software propietario en Venezuela. El movimiento del Software Libre en nuestro país está alerta y continuamente ha denunciado esta intromisión.

Oscar O. (not verified) - Wed, 2006-06-21 09:58.

Bravo al software libre esta todo muy bonito

Te doy la razón, no ha vido nada mejor en la historia de la informática que el software libre y todos sus beneficios, aparte de su inducción al desarrollo profesional de la persona para el uso de si mismo Bravo, bravo, bravo, ... El punto esta o mejor dicho el punto que no se ve,.. Todo lo que se hace en Venezuela no son mas que patrañas , aquí nadie desarrolla software para ningún tipo de necesidad , si no mas bien lo compra a otros países que ya se han desarrollado, y lo peor del caso es que aquí en Venezuela existen personas capacitadas y aun peor lo hace con motivos de llevarle la contraria aun país al que llama el IMPERIO, entonces podemos decir que todo es por el desarrollo y nuevas fronteras del software en Venezuela o no es mas simple que llevarle la contraria al IMPERIO? bye saludos

jorge (not verified) - Thu, 2006-06-29 19:55.

You may be with or against

You may be with or against Chavez, I am a foreigner living in Venezuela and can not vote, so I speak freely.

I dislike a lot of what Chavez do, but this movement towards open source I aplaud.

Saying that they can not adopt it because they (or we, because I live/study/work in Venezuela while "real venezuelans" go to other countries and just critisize) don't have the skills is not true. I participated in some meetings where government and private companies and education institutes were discussing adopting FOSS in PDVSA (Venezuelan Oil Company). Bottomline: we do have the manpower to do it, we just don't need to go crazy and think it can be done rapidly.

The same aplies for other government companies, and educational institutes. The university where I studied, is adopting Linux on most of the PC's in the the departments offices and students labs, simply because of the huge costs involved. As electronic engineers we sometime need some programs that do not run in Linux, so that's why some of the PC's (in the labs) are kept with Windows. Anyone that needs Windows on his personal computer can buy it and install if he want.

It is all about transition, not saying that it is impossible.

And if you say it just because of socialism, in Europe and some states of the USA they do the same, and nobody says they are socialist.

Nels - (not verified) - Wed, 2006-06-14 08:03.

Socialism and Microsoft

Granting special rights to monopolistic companies like Microsoft sounds like Socialism for those with piles of money. My understanding is that Mr. Chavez is pro-Venezuelan people. That would mean not sending money to Mr. Gates when there is a good choice and using the money from Venezuelan oil to help Venezuelans.

When some future US president supports personal rights to the extent that Mr. Chavez is, maybe that president will also have the same kind of popular support. That is, more than about 25% of the people of voting age will be voting for him.

An - ymous (not verified) - M - , 2006-06-12 11:43.

What about Brazil

Venezuela might have a shaky political structure, but Venezuela is NOT the only south american country moving toward open source. The first government movement to open source was in Peru, and Brasil also follow suit.

So is lula left wing also as Chavez but in Peru is not so really no connection here either. Half of europe is also left wing including Spain, UK, Germany, Norway etc.

Jza (not verified) - Sat, 2006-06-24 23:58.

Venezuela

Hugo Chavez is making strides toward socialism but I would hardly call Venezuela a socialist society. It would be almost impossible to have a truly socialist country in a capitalist world. What happened in the former Soviet Union and China were distortions of socialism, a planned economy without democracy. Thanks to capitalism for its gains in technology and mechanization but it is a system that has worn itself out, always in crisis and creating poverty of the masses. Time for a system change.

An - ymous (not verified) - M - , 2006-06-12 10:15.

Free as in Marxist Dictator

He is also giving away oil to poor people, oil he stole.
You invest in Venezuela, you lose your investment. You can argue about the sins of the multinational companies all you like, but the fact is with out property rights, all other rights are worthless. While I also applaud open software, what good is it without an open society?
Capitalism works, socialism does not. Capitalism is as about wornout as a worn out dollar bill and you never see anyone throw them in the side ditch.
Socialism has been totally debunk as a workable economic system, it only works with the barrel of a gun or when propped up with revenues from slavery or in Chavez's case with wealth plundered from the oil companies. Hitler loved children and animals.
I do not buy Citgo gas and suggest that freedom loving people do like wise.

An - ymous (not verified) - Tue, 2006-06-20 09:26.

Stolen Oil

Who did he steal the oil from? Nationalizing oil isn't stealing it, it's recognizing it as a national resource that belongs to all people, like the water or the air, and not corporations.

For a fascinating look at how oil corporations do their work, check out "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man," written by an "economic advisor" whose job it was to ruin Latin American countries. Our gov't gets really upset when these countries don't fall in line, and starts intervening in really inappopriate ways. Check it out.

An - ymous (not verified) - Tue, 2006-06-20 11:15.

Free as in Marxist Dictator

He didn't steal the oil, but He stole the property (oil rigs, trucks, pipelines and such) of the multi-national companies that developed the oil resources, without compensation. You can rationalize all you want about the evil oil companies who have looted the poor peoples of the world getting some of what they deserve, but without the rule of law there can be no economic freedom. If a government can demonize the oil companies and take their oil company, they can demonize you and take your farm. We hang together or separately. While the book you sighted may demonstrate illegal behavior on the part of some oil companies ( I haven't read the book and don't see the need, I have, after all, read Das Capital ) it doesn't excuse the illegal behavior on the part of Chavez in the matter. The point is free software does not mean a free society.
China has choosen free software (albeit, bootlegged Microsoft). does that make China an open society, No.

An - ymous (not verified) - Tue, 2006-06-20 23:08.

Oil industry equipment

I believe you have left out a few steps in the process. The Venezuelan government raised the taxes on oil and the US dominated companies didn't like it. Their decision was a strike. They password protected access to the computer systems and left the country.

Chavez responded by hiring some software hackers to gain access to the systems and put them back into operation. When the companies found that the oil was flowing again then returned and found themselves locked out of the facilities.

There are many instances of US government intervention when a strike is considered detrimental to the interests of the government. Oil is the primary export of Venezuela and it seems that Chavez took the only responsible action based on the circumstances.

An - ymous (not verified) - Sun, 2006-07-02 09:52.

China and Facts

While lots of countries have lots of stolen copies of Microsoft software, China is one of the "Linux countries". That doesn't mean there is no bootleg Microsoft code there but China has officially endorsed Linux.

This has been done at both the hardware and software level. They developed the Dragon processor chip specifically to run Linux. It is similar to the MIPS chip and will not run Microsoft software. Then they developed their own version of Linux called Red Flag Linux.

Our goal with TUX Magazine (meaning the monthly PDF) is to tell you how to do things with Linux rather than discuss Linux politics. But, there is a lot of it and, in many cases, it will follow along the lines of world politics.

Over ten years ago I equated Linux to the first successful implementation of Communism. My point was not that Linux was like the government of U.S.S.R. but that if you use the definition "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" you pretty much characterized how Linux was evolving. That is, those that could contribute, did and those that needed Linux could get it for free.

Much like picking on the governments of Venezuela and China, I got yelled at. Probably the most prominent yelling was by Eric Raymond. But, as much as he didn't like my choice of words, the analogy was accurate.

Today I received a message from an associate in Costa Rica about Linux in Cuba. The article is here if you are interested. It is another example of a government that has picked an alternative to supporting a US business. While lots of "U.S.-friendly" have passed legisislation supporting Open Source software, maybe the political differences have helped push this support in these nations.

Phil Hughes (not verified) - Wed, 2006-06-21 13:40.

When microsoft implement a

When microsoft implement a censure system in the windows, just say: bye, bye linux in china

An - ymous (not verified) - Thu, 2006-06-29 16:45.