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HablaCentro develops curriculum, tools and strategies to help people in Latin America become more digitally literate and civically engaged; conducts trainings in the use of digital tools to create more informed citizens; and connects collaborators to opportunities so they can sustain themselves economically through informed global citizenship and storytelling.
At the heart of the HablaCentro strategy is the idea that access to timely, relevant information improves people’s lives, especially if that information is used to fuel civic participation. Until recently, providing Central Americans with consistent, inexpensive access to such information was nearly impossible as violent civil strife gripped many countries and political elites stifled democratic decision-making. As democracy begins to take root in countries like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, the time is finally ripe for a mass communication platform built and used by citizens themselves.
HablaCentro’s technology platform allows users to send and receive information via text messages, emails, and local websites in each of the countries where HablaCentro currently operates (i.e. Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Venezuela). The HablaCentro platform has already experienced such high demand that Kara’s model has spread virally from Guatemala, where she began her operations in May 2009, to the other four countries through sheer local initiative and volunteer support.
Beyond being a mere communication platform, HablaCentro is designed to promote civic participation through citizen journalism training, information sharing and collective action calls. Through educational outreach—provided to schools and citizen groups—as well as basic online tutorials, HablaCentro encourages citizens to report news that is timely and relevant to their communities, thus creating a bottom-up flow of information to counterbalance the traditional top-down media.
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