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“Democracy, the press and free enterprise are inextricably bound up,” says Roberto Civita, director of the Brazilian magazine Veja, the most widely read in Latin America: defending free speech would entail protecting the freedom of businesses, starting with the press. But what happens when a political leader is elected on a programme that includes challenging the interests of the private sector and media bosses? Ever since leaders determined to end (or try to end) neoliberalism came to power in Latin America, and parties defending the traditional elite became weaker, the media has had a mission. As Judith Brito, editor of the conservative Brazilian daily Folha de São Paulo, puts it: “Since the opposition has been weakened so much, it is the media that effectively fulfils this role” (O Globo, 18 March 2010) — sometimes very inventively.

Whose free press? – Le Monde diplomatique on Latin America

Protests in Brazil have highlighted, most recently, the growing use of social media for citizens to organize politically, outside the traditional parties and union structures of the past. New communication technologies have also played a key role in political organization and protests throughout the hemisphere, including the #YoSoy132 protests in Mexico, education protests in Chile, and cacerolazos in Argentina. Are these communications technologies helping promote better governance or disrupting government stability? What are governments doing to respond and organize online? How are these technologies impacting debates over media and censorship of political issues in the hemisphere? To answer these questions, the Americas Program is pleased to welcome James Bosworth, author of Bloggings by Boz

2013 event covering New Media Technologies and Social Movements in Latin America at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Audio of the event here.

Many emerging markets have fallen in recent weeks and investors fear further losses in the near future. Fostering new technologies, innovation, and entrepreneurship are critical to their recovery. Brazil, Turkey, and Indonesia should embrace consumer and business friendly Internet policies instead of a government-centric approach that risks crippling the Internet. It is not too late for them to adjust course and leverage the free and open Internet to kick start their flagging economies.