Efraín Ríos Montt, former president/dictator/army general of Guatemala during the 1980′s, has been found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity for his role during that country’s civil war. This cannot begin to redress the suffering and loss of the Guatemalan people, nor does it do a sufficient job of holding accountable all the individuals who played a part in the genocide (including those in the U.S. government who provided arms and support). But it is a symbolic gesture. Too little, too late — but still something.
The trial of Ríos Montt has revived old memories, particularly around a documentary film project I produced as a student at Ithaca College in 1994. The film, titled Fight to Return, Return to Fight, follows a group of Guatemalan refugees in Chiapas, Mexico, as they make their way back to their homeland after a 10 year exile. Recently, I dug up the U-Matic tape and had the film transferred to DVD. It is not particularly good (it is, after all, a student film — although it did win the Best Documentary Award in my class). But I suppose it has some social and historical value.
(for best results, view video in latest version of Firefox or Safari)
Some production and background information:
The idea for the film emerged after talking to a Guatemalan liberation theology priest I met in Mexico City. He put me in touch with the necessary contacts. In December 1993, I traveled to southern Chiapas and spent a few weeks living in various refugee camps, talking with and interviewing Mayans. Even though life in the camps was hard, I remember how warm and welcoming people were. I accompanied this group back to a communal ranch they had acquired in Chaculá, Guatemala, where they were planning to start their lives anew.
Interestingly, I was in Chiapas in January of 1994, when the Zapatista Army of National Liberation began its uprising in Mexico. While we were close to the action, the refugees and I were probably the last to learn what was going on. I remember the fighter jets flying above us, and later listening to the radio in the middle of the jungle to try to figure out what was happening.
The film was shot in 8mm video and 16mm film (this was before the age of HD), and was edited on 3/4″ video (before the age of digital non-linear editing). One interesting anecdote is that I purchased the cheapest 16mm film camera I could find at the time, a Russian Krasnogorsk (less than $300, I think; the film and processing were donated by Ithaca College). As I was making my way back to Mexico City after filming, the military presence in Chiapas was substantial. So I am traveling in a little truck with various campesinos, and we get stopped at a check point. I am a chilango traveling with a Russian camera, so needless to say I stand out and the suspicious soldiers start asking me questions (there were all sorts of conspiracy theories about comunistas going around). I don’t remember the details of the conversation, but I guess I talked my way out of what could have been a nasty situation.
I hope one day I can go back to Chaculá to see what has become of the people I met. I did find this online report that seems to be talking about the same community.
If you are in the area, please come to our Institute for Global Engagement discussion series at SUNY Oswego (directions). We have some great talks scheduled, and they are all free and open to the public. Click the image below to see the full-size version of the flier.
Higher Education’s “Napster” moment is quickly approaching. Soon, saying that learning can only happen in accredited classrooms in exchange for a hefty sum of money will be like saying that music should only be listened to at expensive concerts, and telling those darn kids to stop downloading all those songs illegally. What follows is neither utopia nor dystopia, but simply a half-serious prediction of where things might be headed… quickly.
In the near future, college degrees will become unimportant. It won’t matter where you went to college, or even if you went to college. That the Internet will make this possible by making quality content available at a low cost hardly merits debating at this point.
These things have been said before, of course, but not much has been said about what will replace a college degree. It will be this: the job interview. We are no longer talking about your grandad’s job interview, however, or nothing we are familiar with today (i.e., filling out a form and meeting a couple of people). Instead, the job interview will become a week-long contest where applicants show what they know, what they are capable of doing, and are ranked accordingly. It will include lengthy exams, personality tests, group exercises, creative assignments, detailed simulations, and an army of tests intended to measure everything from know-how to moral character (I’m not saying those tests will be accurate; I’m just saying they will be treated as such).
I am conducting a comparative study on uses of the Internet in protest movements around the world. One of the ways I am collecting data is through an online survey. I would appreciate your help in distributing this information and getting people to fill out the survey. Thanks!
“IMG_2151” by Mosa’aberising, 2012, Creative Commons.
Liberation Technologies and Global Protest Movements
We need your help in collecting information about the use of the Internet in global protest movements. The survey should take 30 to 60 minutes to complete. The survey consists mostly of open ended questions that will require you to compose a written answer. Participating in this study may not benefit you directly, but it will help us understand how activists across the globe are attempting to create new forms of organizing to promote social change, and how the nature of activism is being transformed by the programmers who design Internet technologies and the journalists who report on their use. All the information you provide will be kept confidential (see the survey website for a complete Informed Consent form). The survey can be accessed here: http://survey.ulisesmejias.com/index.php/survey/index/sid/223715/lang/en
Tecnologías de Liberación y Movimientos de Protesta Globales
Necesitamos tu ayuda para recolectar información sobre el uso de la Internet en los movimientos de protesta globales. El cuestionario tomará de 30 a 60 minutos en ser completado. El cuestionario consiste principalmente en preguntas abiertas que requieren que formules una respuesta escrita. Participar en este estudio tal vez no te beneficie directamente pero nos ayudará a entender cómo los activistas alrededor del mundo están tratando de crear nuevas formas de organizar cambios sociales, cómo la naturaleza del activismo está siendo transformada por los programadores que diseñan tecnologías de Internet, y cómo los periodistas reportan sobre su uso. Toda la información que nos proporciones se mantendrá de forma confidencial (ve la declaración de Consentimiento Informado en la página web del cuestionario). Se puede acceder al cuestionario aquí: http://survey.ulisesmejias.com/index.php/survey/index/sid/223715/lang/es
The English version of the 4th Inclusiva-net Meeting: P2P Networks and Processes e-book is finally available (Spanish version has been available for a while). The book contains my chapter “Peerless: The Ethics of P2P Network Disassembly,” as well as other excellent chapters from Juan Martín Prada, Michel Bauwens, Andrew Whelan and more. Click the image below to download the PDF (13MB), or go to this page to access Spanish version, videos, etc.
I received an Innovative Instruction Technology Grant (IITG) from SUNY’s Office of the Provost. The project is called Osw3go.net: Alternate Reality Simulations as Learning Tools, and the grant amount is $20,000 (plus $5,000 campus matching).
Below is some information about the project from the proposal. [Update: Here's a Campus Update item about the grant.]