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Country overview Colombia

Date added: July 5, 2017

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In Colombia, technological modernisation coexists with activities supported through obsolete technologies and conservative mindsets. The country is in a permanent struggle between tradition and innovation, and as the country is not a technology-creator, technology acceptance involves elements of fashion and psychological dependency from developed countries. Technology is intimately related to economic, political and military domination. The local application of information and communication technologies (ICT) to governance suffers these problems. Information Technology (IT) responds directly or indirectly to the interests of the global elite that created it.

This report aims to provide an overview of the normative and institutional state of art of ICT-mediated citizen participation in Colombia. The first section provides an overview of the political and civic liberties framework in Colombia. In the second section the landscape of ICT mediated citizen engagement is mapped. In the third section, the report engages with implications of technology mediations for deliberative democracy and transformative citizenship.

The authors argue that Colombian e-Government exists in the stages of information and service provision, but not yet in participation. In politics, e-mail and social networks are means for publicity and propaganda, tools for mobilisation, but not yet as spaces for debate and negotiation. Significant shifts in meanings and norms of participation still need to come.

ICT-mediated citizen engagement in Colombia has not achieved the desired impact mainly for three reasons:
  • the existence of a significant digital divide on broadband,  a knowledge gap regarding education, and information flaws in the population. The education system, especially in post-graduation levels, is excluding. Lack of education and economical means have produced a population with weak information and data literacy.
  • after 50 years of dirty war and mistrust, political disinterest has become part of the Colombian political culture. Co-governance is an alien idea for citizens and governing actors, that within an authoritarian non-participative perspective, stick to the idea of a messianic figure that will lead the country to change the current state of things
  • the reproduction of state-of-the art information architectures that do not consider the state of deficit in infrastructure, access, and knowledge in the population. In this manner, ICT-mediation produces additional difficulties to the citizens, who are not prepared to face what these systems demand from them.
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