Campaign Update: Internet no es lujo

On May 17th --- proclaimed by the UN as World Information Society Day by resolution 60/252 --- an initiative (Internet Prioritaria) was launched by a group of Venezuelan academics and students to create awareness about the impending slash of government subsidy support for free internet access at public educational institutions, a move considered by some critics as an attempt to implement a disguised form of censorship and control.

To promote the campaign a web page was created along with groups in a variety of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter in order to broadcast the campaign message to the world: Internet no es lujo (Internet is not a luxury), a reference to government decree No. 6649 which includes Internet Access in a list of non-essential lavish items subject to budgetary cuts except when approved by the Vice President.

Another objective of the campaign was to create a hashtag based on the campaign slogan that would gather enough support among Venezuelan Twitterers to become a Trending Topic. On May 17th, as the Venezuelan Twitter Storm started gaining momentum, international Twitterers began picking up the message and Retweeting the hashtag #internetlujo. One the highlights of the day was when Audioslave Lead Vocalist Chris Cornell joined the cause thereby instantly spreading the word to 348.144 of his followers and giving the campaign an additional boost. Thanks Chris!

At the end, #internetlujo didn't make it to the trending topics (competing against Star Trek, Norway, Notre Dame KOBE Angels & Demons, Go Lakers and some spam generated topics), however, it did achieve place number 63 on last week's Top Twitter Trends --- according to --- which is quite an achievement considering that millions of people are using Twitter.

Interestingly, while the Internet Prioritaria Campaign had been more or less ignored by the traditional media, the buzz created on the Internet, and on Twitter in particular, prompted El Nacional, one of Venezuela's leading newspaper, to publish a front page article about the internet campaign. A new relationship between the mainstream and citizen generated media seems to be developing.

In conclusion, despite the achievements on May 17th, the campaign is not over yet. So, please join the cause and show your support by signing the petition to exclude internet use from Decree No. 6649 titled Presidential Instructions for the Elimination of Luxury or Superfluous Expenses in the Public Sector, since the elimination of internet in the public sector is not an appropriate mechanism to optimize investment in the development and appropriation of information technologies.

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