|Subject: [hangout] Venezuela & Software Libre
Venezuela's Government Shifts to Open Source Software
Aug 30, 2002
By Brian Proffitt
According to government sources in Venezuela, the South American nation has
announced an official policy that exclusively calls for the use of open
source software in that government.
The announcement, made on Wednesday, stated that from now on, all software
developed for the government must be licenced under the GPL. The entire
policy was summed up in this statement by Dr. Felipe Pérez-Martí, Planning
and Development Minister: "Open source whenever possible, propietary
software only when necesary."
José Luis Rey, one of Pérez-Martí's advisors, indicated that before the
announcement was made, the country's Executive Committee was consulted and
the majority of the menbers of that committee were in favor of the plan.
Rey also outlined additional details of the plan. Besides the government's
GPL requirement, the policy requires that the official accounting
application for Venezeula must be a GPL'ed application. The policy also
states that the government will openly combat software piracy by purging all
unlicensed copies of software from its offices.
Additionally, the policy also outlines a new Internet access program where
all machines would be Linux-based and held under community franchise.
Pérez-Martí has been described by various South American media outlets as an
economist who has been interested in open source for quite some time.
At the LinuxWeek 2000 conference, Pérez-Martí presented a paper about free
software sustainability entitled: "On Altruism, Efficiency and Public Goods,
Application: GNU/Linux Environment"
Pérez-Martí has also surrounded himself with a great wealth of technical
advisors, including Ricardo Ricardo Strusberg, former president of the
Venezulean Linux Users Group (VELUG) and current president of the
Association of Linux Users of Latin America and Spain and Jose Neif, the
Mexican programmer who is best known for the LinuxPPP distribution. These
advisors were clearly influential in reaching this new policy decision.
Ernesto Hernández-Novich, current president of VELUG, and a part-time
advisor to Pérez-Martí, welcomes the new policy whole-heartedly. He also
outlined some of the bumps the policymakers are working to smooth over.
"This of course, requires additional considerations that are being carefully
written by [Pérez-Martí's] advisors in terms of the use of a freely
available standard format to exchange information, ease of transformation of
this information without needing propietary software, and the need to make
free (as in GPL-compatible) all software funded by the Government."
In an interview (in Spanish) with LaRed.com, Pérez-Martí outlined one of the
big reasons why this policy was announced. According to Pérez-Martí, the
government and the people of Venezeula were increasingly concerned that over
75 percent of the funds for software licenses went to foreign nations, 20
percent to foreign support agencies, and only 5 percent to Venezuelan
Pérez-Martí indicated that they wish to implement this new policy so that
now Venezulan programmers will be handling most of the government's software
needs, though keeping a large amount of government funds within the nation
New Yorker Free Software Users Scene
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