Globe, Latin America, Lifestyle, Ludotheque, United Kingdom

Digital independence vs the United States’ technological blockade

Open-access software and liberating technologies are becoming the only way to achieve technological independence in Venezuela, against the effects of the executive order imposed by the United States’ Government.

 

Lisbet Rodríguez Candelaria

 

At the beginning of October, the North American company Adobe Systems Incorporated, well known for its editing tools for websites, video and graphics, announced the suspension of its services in the South American country.

In an email, the company informed its users that they would be able to download all content stored in their Adobe accounts until the 28th of October, at which point it would cease to provide services in Venezuela as a consequence of the coercive and unilateral measures taken by President Donald Trump.

This situation shatters the narrative maintained by Juan Guaidó – recognised by the United States and its allies as the interim president of Venezuela – who assured the country that the measures implemented on the 5th of August by the United States administration pose a threat to President Nicolás Maduro alone.

Even as designers, photographers and graphic designers had to struggle with the withdrawal of the company’s services, the president of the National Centre for Information Technology, Kenny Ossa, ventured that the decision could represent an opportunity for the country’s digital independence.

“With the United States blockade, time is proving that Comandante Hugo Chávez (1954-2013) and the community of developers were right: to gain real technological independence we must develop and move the location of open-source software and hardware,” wrote Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jorge Arreaza, on Twitter.

However, on the day itself when Venezuelans were to lose access to updates, licences and online services provided by Adobe, the popular North American software company communicated that its services would continue, after having obtained a special permission from the United States Government.

Adobe’s recent announcement drew the attention of some analysts who question the fact that in less than a week the US Department of the Treasury has authorised a different North American business to continue operations in the country, following the announcement of an extension of permissions for the oil company Chevron Corporation.

Attacks on Venezuela

After officially recognising the self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaidó on the 23rd of January this year, the United States amped up its economic policy against Venezuela by taking coercive actions that fundamentally impact the petroleum and financial sectors and obstruct access to food, medicine and other basic goods.

A report published by the Venezuelan Chancellery placed global losses to the economy due to the sanctions in the region of 23 billion 238 million dollars between August 2017 and December 2018, whilst the value of accounts frozen in the US grew to 30 billion.

During the same period, the impact of the blockade on the petroleum industry meant that income plummeted by 20 billion dollars along with a daily reduction in production to the order of 500 thousand barrels of crude oil.

On the 28th of January, Trump’s administration increased sanctions against Petróleos de Venezuela, and as a result, all the state-owned oil and natural gas company’s assets and interests under the jurisdiction of the United States remain frozen.

A study by the Centre for Economic and Political Research, which has its headquarters in the United States, revealed that around forty thousand Venezuelans died in less than two years as a consequence of illegal measures by Trump’s government designed to bring about regime change.

Trump’s Executive Order blocked all the Venezuelan Government’s assets on United States’ territory and prohibited doing business with Venezuela, which led to other companies withdrawing from the country as they feared sanctions.

Oracle, the biggest commercial provider of database software in the world, sent letters to its clients as a prior warning that it would be suspending its services in the South American country.

In the presence of this growing blockade by United States technology companies, the replacement of exclusive software and hardware in Venezuela is an urgent matter, explained political analyst Vladimir Adrianza. This measure could be replicated for other platforms, functioning with Windows or Android operating systems, which includes messaging services, advised Adrianza. (PL)

 (Translated by Elizabeth Dann – Email: elizabethdann@blueyonder.co.uk) – Photos: Pixabay

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