2014 in Review: Trends in Media and Communication on Latin America

by Lisette Alvarez on March 23, 2015

The Rendon Group’s Media Analysis Team works 24/7/365 to provide clients with global real-time news and information coverage. As our analysts follow the global information environment, they have noticed numerous emerging trends in media and communication throughout 2014. Our 2014 in Review series highlights fifteen (15) specific examples of how media and communications played a decisive role in some of 2014’s most talked about geopolitical issues and events. These examples, divided by region, will be posted on the Rendon Group’s website on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays over the next two weeks. Links to previously posted sections can be found at the bottom of each blog post.

LATIN AMERICA

Protestors h hold signs during a demonstration in Brazil.

Brazil: Rolezinhos, the World Cup, and Elections

In 2014, Brazilian teenagers, largely from the urban periphery and organizing on social media, went on rowdy excursions through shopping malls called rolezinhos (“little strolls” incorrectly identified as “flash mobs”). Huge crowds flooded malls in Brazil, often provoking police retaliation. In January 2014, police officers used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse about 3,000 teens at Shopping Metrô Itaquera. The retaliation sparked accusations of racism and classism. The young participants pointed out that “elite university students have long been organizing flash mobs in malls — with largely rich, white participants — without incurring the ire of authorities.” The issue was prominently featured in Brazilian social media.

The 2014 World Cup, hosted by Brazil, also became an issue for protests and was the main focus of many social media users. As a global event, the World Cup presented an opportunity for social media users to engage in a social activist event as well as a global sporting event. In this case, the activism occurred on the ground in Brazil and the commentary of the games occurred online. In the run-up to the global football tournament, social activists initiated mass protests to criticize the government for spending huge amounts of money on World Cup infrastructure, evicting residents near the stadiums, and diverting resources away from needy communities. A number of violent outbreaks between police and protesters resulted in numerous injuries (including two CNN journalists) and the death of a teenager. Amnesty International accused the police of using excessive force against the protesters. However, the World Cup continued as planned and the online commentary focused on the matches. The World Cup 2014 saw more people sharing comments, pictures and videos over social media than any other event in history.

After hosting the World Cup in June 2014, Brazil’s presidential elections were held in October.Winner and incumbent President Dilma Rousseff who won in a tight run-off race with Aecio Neves, received the endorsement of ousted candidate Marina Silva.  Ms. Rousseff’s incumbent status, a historically strong advantage in elections, was undermined by a lagging Brazilian economy and corruption allegations related to state-run oil companyPetrobras, topics which became the center of social media debates during the election. #BrazilElections were populated with tweets regarding the fall of the currency after Rousseff’s win.

Mexico and The Missing 43

On September 26, 2014, 43 male students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College of Ayotzinapa went missing in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico.

According to official reports, the students traveled to Iguala to hold a protest at a conference led by the Mayor’s wife. Details continue to remain unclear, but official investigations concluded that a clash occurred between police and students. The students were said to have been handed over to the local crime syndicate: Guerreros Unidos (“United Warriors”) and presumably killed. Mexican authorities claimed Iguala’s mayor, José Luis Abarca Velázquez, and his wife María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa, masterminded the abduction. On January 27th, 2015, Mexican officials declared that the 43 missing students were dead, saying that “forensic evidence supported the theory that their bodies were incinerated near a garbage dump”.

Mass protests ensued throughout Mexico in November and December. Family members joined in the protests, which were often met with police force. Protesters carried handmade banners with the words “Ya me cansé” (I am tired). #Yamecanse (I am tired), #FueElestado (It was the State), #TodosSomosAyotzinapa (We are all Ayotzinapa), and #AccionGlobalPorAyotzinapa (Global Action for Ayotzinapa) are amongst the most popular hashtags via Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. The protests eventually went global, particularly as dialogue regarding police violence heightened. In many of the protests in the United States surrounding police violence, Latino activists would join in solidarity with “Where are the 43?” slogans, and demanding justice for victims of police violence everywhere.

Please review our previous entry of the 2014 Year in Review: Global