Translating Twitter from Honduras
By Al Giordano
OMG! OMG! Oh noes! A violent coup d’etat and its censorship in Honduras is fine by us, but we’re really really upset about the coup on Twitter!
Thus could be summed up the unintentionally comedic efforts of some coup supporters on the Twitter #Honduras feed today.
Most of the messages there - hundreds per hour - are in Spanish. A handful are in Brazilian Portuguese and in English. And as with the events in Iran this month, Twitter has become a clearinghouse for information, disinformation, rumors, arguments, questions and answers about what is going on in a country where an authoritarian regime has attempted to block the media and the Internet.
Yesterday, the pro-coup defenders seemed to outnumber the critics of the coup on Twitter. But that's old news now: most of the "tweets" have turned against the coup.
Two events seem to have taken the steam out of the twittering coup defenders: One, the evident press and Internet censorship by the coup regime. The hypocrisy of being apologists for censorship and repression online – where only those Hondurans and cyber-cafes with satellite access can get on the Internet (satellite access, interestingly, skews to poor rural areas and their cyber cafes, where opposition to the coup is strong and organized) – became too much for some to continue with the same fighting spirit. Two, the statements by US President Obama today about the coup being “illegal” has clearly whooped the morale of the golpistas, whose only hope, really, was that Washington would endorse and protect their end run around their country's constitution.
Meanwhile, a creative anonymous twitterer and coup opponent created the accounts of DiarioPrensa and DiarioHeraldo, using the logos of two pro-coup national newspapers as avatars, to galvanize the anti-coup forces in that medium.
The pro-coup twitterers are apoplectic over that one, posting repeated messages like this one (translated from Spanish):
Unscrupulous twitterers are creating fakes of the Twitter accounts of #Honduras newspapers!
To which the creator of those accounts responded:
What La Prensa and El Heraldo need is a “forced transition” toward freedom of expression and respect for democracy in #Honduras
The remaining pro-coup twitterers are mainly obsessed with, A. declaring every anti-coup claim on Twitter is false, and B. complaining about Hugo Chavez and Barack Obama. That, and the communism and homosexuality that they say unites the two (real model citizens, these golpistas):
Show me a communist in power, and I’ll show you a good reason for a coup d’etat
As Hugo said, him and Castro woke up and they were on the right side of Obama
Why is Obama a freedom hater?
CNN can go learn journalism from WSJ! WSJ - Honduras Defends its Democracy http://tiny.cc/lr4wg
y won't BHO supprt the rule of law? No1is above the law, not even pres.
Analyst Charles Krauthammer to Fox News: “Obama Is Wrong”
“Professional” Venezuelan Rioters Stir Protests in Honduras
Anyway, you get the idea.
Meanwhile, the anti-coup forces have now overwhelmed the coup defenders on Twitter, with messages like these:
twitter seems to be the only source of info here in #Honduras. all news channels blocked even international
It’s confirmed that the 4th Armored Battalion is with the people
Chile calls its Honduran ambassador back to Santiago
Military curfew in Tegucicalpa #Honduras from 6PM
Conflicts cause at least 15 wounded in #Honduras
"We in Latin America can no longer accept someone trying to resolve his problem through the means of a coup," Lula da Silva
Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala close the borders to commerce with #Honduras
President Zelaya announces his return to #Honduras after his speech tomorrow to the UN http://migre.me/2Z8L
In #Honduras only the private TV channels are broadcasting and its programming is based on sports and cartoons
Mel assures that he will return to his country to restore constitutional order
We are journalists with dignity not disposed to obey orders; we maintain our journalistic ethics and we inform
The popular organizations in struggle to recover the constitutional order are uniting in the Resistance Front in search of unity
Curfew imminent in #Honduras (heard on Radio Progreso)
“PetroCaribe will stop sending all oil to #Honduras while a de facto government is in power” – H Chavez
The Honduran people are not informed, all the media is blocked
I think this is the first time in my life that the governments of Venezuela (Chavez), Cuba and the US agree about anything
Brasil withdraws its ambassador from #Honduras
At least 60 wounded in the conflicts in #Honduras
CNN in Espanol is fine, but English viewers deserve in-depth treatment of #Honduras too.
OAS declares "no government arising from this unconstitutional interruption will be recognized."
Honduras is now #6 on the (Twitter) trends. Finally
“We condem these acts unambiguously, and we demand the restitution of Honduran president Manuel Zelaya” said Calderon of MX
Mexico also retires its ambassador from #Honduras
I denounce that the cable AMNET service continues blocking the international news channels
They’ve begun to bring those that demonstrate to prison
National TV is censoring and doesn’t tell what is really happening other than what it finds convenient
Take all "tweets" with a grain of salt, and confirm their claims through other sources. But one has to admit that the "collective conscience" reflected by the sum of so many posts does provide the reader with a feel for where the fault lines of the debate rage...