Anabel Navarro, 26, is a journalist and Executive Director of Un Mundo sin Mordaza (A World Without Censorship), an organization that promotes free press and self-expression in Venezuela. She has worked with her organization to encourage Venezuelans to participate politically through social media campaigns.
“It has been and still is an effective tool to sow our seeds of promotion and defense of the freedom [of expression],” Anabel said.
This is especially important in Venezuela where the government has closed several radio and television outlets (such as prominent television channel Radio Caracas Televisión Internacional).
“We have political prisoners, journalists, politicians or common citizens who are prosecuted for expressing their opinions, especially those which are different from the national government,” Anabel said
More than 307,000 Venezuelans, mostly young adults, receive daily updates on democracy-related activities and news within Venezuela. Because this information is disseminated via social media, it offers the opportunity for dialogue about important issues like government censorship and freedom of expression.
“[On Facebook], we have a big community from several parts of the world and they debate, and express with freedom about what happens in the country,” Anabel said.
Anabel also helped launch a Twitter campaign with Movimiento Estudiantil (Student Movement) which organized a debate between the Venezuelan presidential pre-candidates of the Democratic Unity Platform’s pre-candidates; it was the first time in 28 years that a debate for presidential candidates had been put together. She curated questions for the candidates asked by Venezuelans on Twitter. Their submissions prompted a debate on a wide range of issues such as combatting drug trafficking and increasing youth employment.
Venezuelan journalist Ibeyise Pacheco wrote on her Twitter account: “There is a democratic solemnity that hasn’t been felt in this country for a long time,” according to Univision News coverage on the presidential debate.
Anabel and fellow debate organizers were praised for “making history in Venezuela by hosting a cordial, well-organized discussion about the country’s future.”
The April 2013 presidential elections provided Anabel and Mundo Sin Mordaza a critical opportunity to reach new voters. Her organization launched Tu Voz es Tu Poder (Your Voice is Your Power), which urged Venezuelans to act on their beliefs and vote for a candidate whom they actually preferred. As part of the campaign, Anabel led a photography campaign on social media featuring Venezuelan celebrities gagged with rope, symbolizing censorship during the election. At the end of September 2013, Anabel and her team will be hosting the Tu Voz Es Tu Poder music festival, bringing together thousands of Venezuelan youth to take action.
Anabel has reaffirmed her belief that young people can become active participants in the democratic process by participating in last year’s World Movement for Democracy conference in Johannesburg and the Prishtina Youth Summit in Kosovo. At both of these international gatherings of democratic leaders, Anabel shared the vision of her organization and advocated for young people to rise up and play their critical role in democratic development efforts in Venezuela and countries around the world.
“The conferences were both extraordinary and unforgettable experiences. Sometimes, [in the midst of] our own problems, we can forget that there are young people around the world who, like me, are fighting for democracy and freedom,” Anabel said.
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