Alek Boyd is a famous blogger and activist who decided to campaign for freedom of speech against Chavez. He also built up VCrisis. Alek accepted to answer some questions for Social Media [re]loaded.
# Hello Alek! Could you introduce yourself in few words and tell us what you’re doing?
Hi there, I am a Venezuelan blogger cum civil and political rights activist. Currently I am in charge of operations for the Human Rights Foundation.
# How internet and more precisely social media help you for your activities? And can you also explain what’s the purpose of VCrisis?
Internet is the true revolution. Is a leveled-playing field where citizens, or social media, can voice contrasting opinions and break myths, peddled by the establishment, on equal terms. All that is needed is a good understanding of how internet works, and how the different tools available can help reach wider audiences, without having to conform with editorial criteria that do not always reflect reality objectively. It has helped me tremendously in unmasking many lies, distortions and misinformation, spread throughout the years by the Chavez regime and his apologists worldwide.
The purpose of Vcrisis was, precisely, to expose a side of Venezuela’s reality, in English, that, at the time, was almost non existent on the web. For let us remember that the love affair between Chavez and international public opinion was in its initial stages when I started blogging in October 2002. Fortunately a relationship based on lies, baseless presumptions, resentments and utopias normally does not last very long.
# I discovered you thanks to Yoani Sanchez: do you suffer from the same difficulties to blog in your country and if so, how do you use social media to broadcast your message?
No, Venezuelans bloggers are free to say what they want, when they wanted. There are no restrictions, barring broadband problems or electric blackouts. Yoani can only dream about the freedom that we have in Venezuela. For instance, my blogging activities led, in 2006, to presidential candidate Manuel Rosales hiring me as a consultant, through Penn, Schoen and Berland. As such, I shadowed him around the country for the entire length of the campaign, a first in Venezuela and, as Daniel Duquenal says, perhaps anywhere in the world. Yoani couldn’t possibly have done that, however important a blogger she is, simply because there have not been elections where an opposition has filed candidates in Cuba since the dictator took over in 1959.
Therefore blogs are great tools for broadcasting messages, and, provided these messages resonate with people, then one can get to do extraordinary things. The prospect of bloggers, on either side of the divide, being allowed close and constant access to presidential candidates is unprecedented, but only through social media could I have achieved that. Fascinating stuff that will become reality in years to come.
# If you could achieve an utopic project thanks to the Web, what would it be?
If I could make common sense common, through free, web-based education programs and applications geared for everyone, I would die a happy man, for most of the problems in this planet of ours are solvable, just by applying commonsensical approaches.s