Democratized communication to further integration

We, the participants in the Latin American Meeting of social organizations and movements, alternative, community and popular media and networks, who met from November 4 to 6 in Quito, Ecuador, have re-affirmed our commitment to prioritize, as part of our work agenda, the support, advancement and dissemination of integration processes in the Latin American region, towards the unity of our peoples.

Constituted as the Foro Latinoamericano de Comunicación para la Integración (Latin American Forum on Communication for Integration), we urge all integration bodies to work towards the establishment of a Latin American-Caribbean identity.  Today, the challenge of effective social participation requires, as an elemental condition, an ample and permanent socialization of information.  Building an agenda of communication to further integration demands a concerted endeavor of social movements, nation States and regional bodies.

As social organizations and movements, and alternative, community and popular media outlets and networks, we support the idea of a communications summit meeting of our political leaders, in order to analyze common policies in questions of information and communication, which can establish communication as an essential part of integration.  In our region, the democratization of communication is fundamental for our democracies to become more inclusive and more participative.

Under the watchword of “Democratizing communication for people’s integration” we, as communicators involved in Latin American people’s media, manifest our decision to become actors and promoters in all the processes of integration (CELAC, UNASUR, ALBA, CARICOM, SICA, MERCOSUR).

To this end, we support the creation, in the framework of Unasur (the Union of South American Nations), of a Forum for Citizen Participation, and we urge for this Forum to become a body with power of decision, beyond a merely consultative role.

In recent years, we have been drawing up proposals and contributions concerning the issue of democratization of communication and regional integration, which go hand in hand with the rise of new norms for democratizing communication in a number of countries of the region, as well as new people’s media, together with the strengthening of state and public media.

Communication and information are strategic issues for political, cultural and ideological struggles and disputes, and although this is a fundamental element in the on-going processes of regional integration, none of these integration bodies have managed to situate these themes among the priorities of their agendas.

We must move towards the adoption and implementation of norms that establish communication as a right and guarantee its democratization, in a framework of real equality of conditions and opportunities for public–state, private–commercial and non-profit–community sectors.

We believe that a new understanding of the role of culture as fundamental for interlinking peoples, and the recognition that communication must have an inclusive character, incorporating dimensions of equity for gender, ethnicity and age groups, respecting the intercultural character of our peoples and nationalities, making it possible for women, youth, indigenous peoples, campesinos and people of African descent to participate, are vital and must be linked to different social struggles.

As social organizations and movements and as alternative, community and popular media, we support all actions that tend to guarantee technical sovereignty, that will enable us to break with dependence in management of regional communication and information, via the promotion of free/open-source software, and open platforms and standards.

With respect to infrastructure, we support the proposal in Unasur to move forward with the consolidation of the South American Fiber Optic Ring, as well as the creation and adaptation of public norms and policies tending to democratize the access and social appropriation of the internet as a new space for the formation of currents of opinion and critical thought.

In addition, we believe it necessary to encourage the creation of media observatories that would allow for greater social control of media at all levels, where social movements, citizens and academe could have an active role.   All this, together with processes of education and training, can contribute to forming critical audiences.

From the people’s outlook, we support the establishment of systems of public media, which can act as a guarantee for plurality and diversity in our societies.  The retrieval of public space is a significant step in the formation of the citizenry.  At the same time, we urge our States to draw up and/or further develop public policies that advance the development of popular and community media.

As organizations, alternative media and communicators involved in the Foro Latinoamericano de Comunicación para la Integración, which is now in process of being established, we call on all Latin American peoples to join forces to make the right to communicate a reality; and at the same time we propose to the diverse authorities of regional integration to include the democratization of communication as a priority on their integration agendas.

– Declaration adopted by the participants of the Latin American Meeting: “Democratizing communication for people’s integration”, held in Quito, Ecuador, November 4-6, 2013, event convened by the Agencia Latinoamericana de Información (ALAI) and the Asociación Latinoamericana de Educación Radiofónica (ALER).

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