Libertad

John Perry Barlow était parolier des Grateful Dead, membre fondateur de l’Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), militant infatigable des libertés numériques, et l’auteur de l’une des pièces majeures du puzzle de la culture web et de l’Internet des pionniers : la déclaration d’indépendance du cyberespace.

«Nous sommes en train de créer un monde où tous peuvent entrer sans privilège et sans être victimes de préjugés découlant de la race, du pouvoir économique, de la force militaire ou de la naissance. Nous sommes en train de créer un monde où n’importe qui, n’importe où, peut exprimer ses croyances, aussi singulières qu’elles soient, sans peur d’être réduit au silence ou à la conformité.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hace poco más de cien años, los habitantes de las grandes ciudades comenzaron a buscar fórmulas para contrarrestar el hacinamiento y la polución que volvía irrespirable la atmósfera urbana. Buscaron, al parecer sin mucho ahínco, a juzgar por la falta de espacio y la calidad del aire que tienen hoy nuestras ciudades.

Bolton Hall fue un célebre activista que a finales del siglo XIX inició un movimiento para incitar a la gente, que estaba harta de vivir en Nueva York, a que se mudara al campo. Los pormenores de este proyecto los escribió en uno de sus libros, Three Acres and Liberty (1907), que se puede consultar online de forma gratuita.…  Seguir leyendo »

Juntamente con la democracia se aceptó la pluralidad, y entre los derechos reconocidos destaca la libertad de expresión, que se define, según la Unesco, como «un elemento crítico para la democracia, el desarrollo y el diálogo, y que forma parte de los derechos universales de los cuales todo el mundo debe gozar».

Se entiende perfectamente que todos tienen el derecho a la libertad de opinión y de expresión; esto incluye el derecho a mantener una opinión sin interferencias y a buscar, recibir y difundir información e ideas a través de cualquier medio de difusión sin limitación de fronteras, tal como lo establece la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Humanos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Deseo felicitar públicamente a la parejita que esta semana decidió fornicar en el metro de Barcelona. Les felicito por su desinhibición, por su frescura, por su afán de dinamitar tabús inventados por la Iglesia católica y hasta por la elección de estación. Sin duda, si yo tuviera que escoger una estación del suburbano de la ciudad para mis prácticas sexuales también sería la de Liceu, con sus verdores vegetales iluminados, que recuerdan al Edén original.

Permítanme, asimismo, felicitar al autor o autora del vídeo que perpetúa el momento y lo eleva a la categoría de asunto observable, debatible y compartible. Gracias por enriquecer la vida de quienes no estábamos allí con un documento de tal valor, que muestra además las reacciones de diversos testigos, entre la risa y el disimulo, a quienes hago extensiva la felicitación, por su ejemplar comportamiento.…  Seguir leyendo »

The arc of history is bending backward, away from freedom and justice. It’s not what was supposed to happen, but it’s the troubling reality revealed in a new report from Freedom House. The level and quality of freedom in the world has been eroding steadily over the past decade, the report suggests. And 2015 marked the sharpest decline yet.

In a way, this is no surprise. After all, we have for several years been watching the dispiriting scenes from the Middle East and North Africa — the least-free region of the world in Freedom House’s “Freedom in the World 2016.” We have seen, for example, the imprisoning and murder of journalists, the shooting of protesters and brutal beheadings at the hands of extremists and governments.…  Seguir leyendo »

Horrific terrorist attacks, like those of Sept. 11, 2001, have a way of sweeping away careful political reflection in favor of emotion. Hand in hand with a propensity to respond overwhelmingly with armed force comes a temptation for governments to grab more powers and exempt themselves from longstanding rules in ways that undermine the foundations of democracy.

These governments then devise legal and military tools never used before, arguing that their precursors have proved too weak against terrorism. The impulse to stop and think about checks and balances is derided as cowardice, if not treason, by the most obtuse partisans of security measures.…  Seguir leyendo »

La crisis no golpea con la misma fuerza a los ciudadanos de las distintas comunidades autónomas, porque influye la política económica aplicada por cada Ejecutivo regional. Hay gobernantes autonómicos que quieren batir la crisis con un elevado intervencionismo regulatorio, lo que les lleva a favorecer lo público frente a la iniciativa privada. Por el contrario, hay otros dirigentes que estiman que lo que potencia la prosperidad es una mayor libertad económica. Esto exige ofrecer buenas condiciones a empresarios y profesionales para que asuman riesgo e intenten generar riqueza y empleo.

Afortunadamente, tanto la libertad económica como sus efectos se pueden medir con precisión.…  Seguir leyendo »

Lawyers for Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the French economist and politician who resigned as head of the International Monetary Fund last year after he was charged with sexual assault, are now depicting his involvement in sex scandals on both sides of the Atlantic as the actions of a libertine.

“I long thought that I could lead my life as I wanted,” Mr. Strauss-Kahn, who no longer faces criminal charges in the United States but remains a suspect in an investigation into a sex ring in France, said in an interview.

To the American ear, the word libertine has an archaic ring; it’s not a term we would generally use to describe the dubious behavior of a major public figure.…  Seguir leyendo »

France will celebrate Bastille Day on Saturday. Like its sister republic on this side of the Atlantic, the French Republic will mark its liberation from the yoke of monarchical rule. But despite the shower of fireworks, parades and speeches in praise of liberty, don’t be deceived. Just as America’s red, white and blue is the mirror image of France’s blue, white and red, liberté isn’t quite the same as liberty, especially in the 21st century.

We have long known that France is, well, a foreign country. Take the bidet — which most Americans do, as a cooler for Coke, not a spritz for their private parts.…  Seguir leyendo »

What does freedom have to do with rising from the dead? When America was in its infancy and struggling to find a culture and frustrated with governance from Great Britain, the word most frequently uttered in speeches and pamphlets and letters was not safety, taxes or peace; it was freedom.

Two acts of Parliament broke the bonds with the mother country irreparably. The first was the Stamp Act, which was enforced by British soldiers writing their own search warrants and rummaging through the personal possessions of colonists looking to see whether they had purchased the government’s stamps. The second was the imposition of a tax to pay for the Church of England, which the colonists were forced to pay, no matter their religious beliefs.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the late 1980s, the fight against global communism entered a crucial phase. President Reagan publicly pressed Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. Pope John Paul II and Lech Walesa gave Polish workers the courage to rise up against their communist masters. The Velvet Revolution sprang up in Czechoslovakia.

That last event may be less famous, but it’s no less important. It began on Nov. 17, 1989, when Czech police suppressed a peaceful student demonstration in Prague. Within days, the number of protestors swelled until it reached half a million. In the face of this uprising, and with the governments of other Soviet satellite states collapsing, the Czech communists saw the handwriting on the wall.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ninguna profesión por noble que sea -decía Diderot- se libra de lo que él denominaba idiotismos morales. Una especie de mezcla de tontería, discordancia entre los principios y la conducta de buena parte de los que la ejercen, una deriva prepotente -diríamos en lenguaje de hoy- de esos profesionales para hacerse valer más de lo que merecen y para afirmar su poder y de paso, en buen número de casos, sacar beneficio personal de todo ello. Y, para colmo, «…cuanto peores son los tiempos, más se multiplican los idiotismos. Tanto vale el hombre cuanto vale el oficio y, recíprocamente, al final, tanto vale el oficio cuanto vale el hombre.…  Seguir leyendo »

I got there early to get a decent place to watch The Moment. The world had not even seen a picture of him for 27 years. What did he look like now? Would he be the dignified, brave leader who had stood in the dock of the Supreme Court on trial for his life in April 1964 and declared himself ready to die for his principles? Or a crushed old man, willing to compromise with the apartheid Government to allow him to spend the last years of his life with his family? Few knew for sure.

I spent that day, February 11, 1990, at the gates of Victor Verster prison, a few miles from Cape Town in a beautiful wine-growing valley surrounded by mountains under a brilliant blue sky.…  Seguir leyendo »

Twenty years ago, I was in Qincheng, the most well-known of China’s political prisons, along with several hundred other students and intellectuals who had taken part in the student movement of the previous summer. On a particularly cold winter morning, I sat on my bed and picked up my copy of The People’s Daily, the government newspaper we were allowed to read, and saw that Nelson Mandela had been released from prison.

I was overwhelmed by complicated feelings. We had not known much about Mr. Mandela’s story, but the message of his release was instantly clear to me: in the pursuit of freedom, there are times when we must pay the price of losing our freedom.…  Seguir leyendo »

News of Nelson Mandela’s release dominated the radio broadcasts by the BBC and Voice of America on Feb. 11, 1990. I felt I understood why he had resisted so long, because in Burma, as in South Africa at the time Mr. Mandela was in jail, the majority of people were struggling to make their voices heard. Within three months, the military junta would refuse to recognize the results of our national election — and I would be locked up in Rangoon’s Insein Prison for leading a demonstration.

Released in 1993, I was sent to prison again in 1994. It was during my second sentence that I managed to read a magazine article describing Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nelson Mandela has won the battle, I said to myself in my cold, tiny cell in the military prison in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. Thank God, at last justice and freedom win.

The news of Mr. Mandela’s release had just come over the radio that stood on a shelf in the canteen for prison guards directly in front of my cell. Tears rolled down my cheeks. Justice and freedom will win here in Indonesia, too, I thought, and I will be free. My people will be free from President Suharto’s military regime.

I had been in jail for seven months — nothing compared with Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nine months before Nelson Mandela was released from prison in South Africa, the Chinese police cracked down on demonstrators in Tiananmen Square, and in August 1989 I was sent to Hebei Prison for incitement to overthrow state power. My cellmates, like so many Chinese people at the time, were pessimistic about China’s future. “Why do you persist?” they would ask me. “Democracy and freedom are good, but there is not much hope for them in China.” The prison guards would tell me, “We have guarded many political prisoners before. The smarter ones have been promoted by the Communists to ranks as high as ‘political consultant’; the ones who persisted in defiance never ended well.”

Yet, on Feb.…  Seguir leyendo »

I was in Mikuyu Prison in Malawi when Nelson Mandela was released. Hearing the news, whispered to me by a daring prison guard, I instantly thought back to the day, a year earlier, when the same guard had told me the rumor that President F. W. de Klerk of South Africa was holding secret talks with Mr. Mandela. Rumors played a critical, if therapeutic, role for us; they were more reliable than the clippings from local newspapers that were smuggled into prison.

In Mikuyu, we had adopted Mr. Mandela as our hero. We had dubbed a fellow prisoner, Martin Machipisa Munthali, the Nelson Mandela of Malawi for his fortitude.…  Seguir leyendo »

It was back in the 1970s, when I was doing diabetes research in Britain, that I first learned of the political drama surrounding Nelson Mandela. At the time I never would have predicted that one day I, too, would be imprisoned by a repressive regime for advocating human rights and democracy.

By the time of his release from prison many years later, I had already spent 10 years in many labor camps and prisons in Vietnam, and was under house arrest. The Vietnamese communist government had never held a trial.

As I listened to the BBC on a small portable radio with earphones, the word of Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

During the dictatorship of Hissène Habré in Chad, I was wrongfully accused of political activity and imprisoned. Our jail was infested with insects, and the heat was nearly unbearable. Packed in our cells, we had to take turns to sleep, often on top of the corpses of other prisoners who had died from torture, disease or malnutrition. We were forbidden to pray aloud. And every night, President Habré’s political police took away prisoners who never returned.

As we were cut off from the outside world, our only news was that brought by new prisoners. It was thus that Brahim, a man who would later die in jail, told us that Nelson Mandela had been freed and had walked out of prison a hero.…  Seguir leyendo »