20 abril, 2010

The Spanish government will withdraw the expats’ right to vote.

I'm gonna copy here a text I read at Big in Finland and I found quite important to spread. I didn't write it but I agree with what it says.

Back in high school, my bearded history teacher asked the class which Spanish citizens are not permitted to vote. Kids as we were, we immediately thought of adults who didn’t possess their full mental faculties, or convicts serving time in prison for major crimes.
We were all wrong.

Our teacher explained to us that in Spain, every adult has the right to vote, and that this right could only be withdrawn from an individual via court order.

Until this year.

The two main Spanish parties — who currently hold 323 out of 350 votes in the parliament — recently agreed on something: that Spanish expats will no longer be able to vote in local, regional, nor general elections. One of the basic and most fundamental rights of every citizen, gone. Democracy just for some.

Let’s break it down into parts.

The problem

The “Historical Memory Law” was introduced to compensate the Republicans who fought in the Spanish Civil war and who suffered reprisals from the dictatorial Franco regime, as well as their families. You can check the details in the Wikipedia.

One of the things this law introduced was endowing the descendants of exiled Republicans with the right to apply for Spanish nationality — applications which would be automatically granted. In the coming years it is expected that there will about 300 000 new Spanish citizens, many of whom have never even set foot in Spain.

Besides, and also related to the Civil War exiled Spanish citizens, there was a problem in some little villages on the north of Spain. In these villages the Civil War exiled vote could actually decide a local election. In fact, there were reports of electoral rigging using the votes of already-deceased exiles (since the Spanish embassies never received any official notice of death for these people they were never removed from the census, and thus were still considered valid “voters” while in fact being scam votes).

So there are two problems: a problem that the law introduced and didn’t prevent, and this local problem.

How the government wants to solve these problems

Instead of solving the local problem locally in these mentioned villages, and instead of preventing the problem introduced by the Historic Memory Law by restricting the ability to vote of the new Spanish citizens (only granting the right if they moved to and spend time in Spain) they (the government and opposition) decided to withdraw the right to vote from 1.3 million Spanish expats.

Why is this so bad

What they are doing is turning a local problem into a national (and even international) problem. What they are doing is turning their lack of foresight into something as outrageous as removing a fundamental right from the citizens they are sworn to protect.

The right to vote was introduced gradually. First for rich people. Then, it was expanded to every man who knew how to read and write. Afterwards to women. Finally to every adult, even the illiterate. Some countries have restrictions like those mentioned at the top of this article, but not Spain.

The withdrawal of this core democratic right that expats will be stripped of three degrees.

Expat can no longer vote in local, regional, nor national elections for the Spanish parliament.

Local elections should be something that is regulated throughout the European Union. If we have free movement of workers within the Union, a European directive should be created to transfer in an effective way the right to vote from city to city no matter which country the European person is living on. Nothing like this should be unilaterally decided and set by a single Government of the Union.

Here I can understand why it makes sense to withdraw this kind of vote: if you don’t live in a city, town, or village, you wouldn’t be exposed to the consequences of your vote. Besides, it would be difficult to have an informed decision on who to vote, considering that expats would not be familiar with the parties’ agendas at the local level. Instead of removing the vote, it should be effectively transfered, though.

A similarity can be drawn here with regional elections, but it is definitely more complicated. Spain is divided into Autonomous Regions. This kind of organization is a trade-off between a centralized Spain and a decentralized one. The powers of each region are negotiated with the State.

People in Spain have strong feelings for their particular region. Each of them has its own culture, heritage, and many even have their own language. It is common for a Spanish person abroad to say they are Spanish, but from a certain region, and we are proud of it!

These regional governments, while negotiating with the state also perform international branding campaigns. This is something at the regional-level that all citizens should have the right to vote for.

The final, and most outrageous of all, is the removal of the right to vote in national general elections. Expats will no longer be able to decide which government represents them. The national government has a direct impact in the lives of the expats, as their actions will be the business cards of the Spanish people abroad. Their decisions can build or break relations with other countries. Their resolutions are every Spanish person’s business, not just the ones who live in Spain. Not everyone may know a Spaniard, but they will know for sure the polemic decisions of Spain’s government. If their actions influence the ideas foreigners have about Spanish people, and we don’t have the right to influence our own government, we’re doubly-defenseless to the opinions they have about us.

The Spanish government and the opposition are currently “studying” the final text, but it is already quite clear that both parties intend to vote yes on this amendment. Instead of solving the problems when they were still small or could have been easily prevented, they have created a much bigger and more dangerous problem. For the very first time Spanish politicians, and not a court, will withdraw the right to vote from their citizens — all 1.3 million of them.

What to do?

People who know me are aware that I am not much of a complainer. I prefer doing over talking; actions toward solutions and not whining.

So, for my first action, I would like to let my international friends know all about this. I want them to tell even more people. You can already find many Spanish expat bloggers writing about this in Spanish, but I feel we need the attention of the international community to act together with us. Everyone who believe that basic democratic rights should be preserved and never reduced.

Every (non-Spanish) person I mention this topic to have no idea that the Spanish government and opposition are doing this.
More people need to be made aware of this!

We must spread the word together, and then hopefully the European Union will tell Spain loud and clear: you shall not withdraw the right to vote from your citizens.

If you agree that the basic right of democracy should not be withdrawn from Spanish expat citizens, please help us. Copy this text in your blog. Link to it. Record it on audio and share it. File a complaint with the European Parliament (if someone reading this knows the specific procedure to do this, please share it in the comments). Write your opinion about this in your own blog. The Spanish people need your help. I am asking for your support.

You can also share your opinion in audio so your voice is heard. Click on the widget below to send it to us.

Send me your track

Also you can show your support by joining the Facebook group Support the Spanish Expats’ right to vote.

Thank you.

16 abril, 2010

Lectura en un e-book (I)

De hace ya varios meses que me compré un e-book, compra de la que no me he podido alegrar más. Se trata de un HanlinV3, aparato original chino que ha sido exportado a España como el Papyre, que se ha hecho bastante conocido. Sin embargo, el precio del Papyre en España es de 300€ y yo este lo conseguí por Ebay por poco más de 200€.

Lo que se refiere a la tinta electrónica, nada os puedo decir que no se haya dicho ya en muchos sitios. Es como el papel, se lee muy bien, la pantalla es muy agradable a la vista, no molesta aunque te pases el día entero leyendo. Además la luz del sol no la hace ilegible como pasa con las pantallas de los teléfonos móviles o los portátiles. De hecho, como la pantalla no tiene iluminación propia, necesitarás luz externa, igual que un libro. Pesa poco y es muy cómodo de coger. La leche vaya...

Sin embargo siempre hay algún problema de por medio. Si los libros están en un formato pensado para los libros electrónicos (.epub o .fb2 entre otros), o incluso algunos tipos de ficheros sencillos (.txt, .rtf) se leerán sin problema. Lo malo son los .pdf, y por desgracia, son los más extendidos. El problema radica en que los archivos PDF fueron creados para ayudar a imprimir en folios tamaño A4, entonces el formato es bastante estricto (no tanto hoy día, hay libros que se leen de maravilla y son PDF). Mas para una pantalla pequeña como la del lector electrónico, el formato de los PDF puede resultar difícil de representar. Lo que vengo a traer es el resultado de abrir los peores archivos en PDF posible en el lector electrónico. Se trata de documentos escaneados y pasados a PDF con tamaño A4, con gráficas y otras cosas del estilo. Incluso algunos que no tienen texto, sino que son imágenes, fotos del libro casi.

Las pruebas consistirán en una serie de imágenes, desde la representación normal, a representación con zoom y formato apaisado, pasando por el zoom en formato vertical. Además mostraré la prueba con dos FW diferentes en el e-book, para ver cuales son las cualidades diferentes de cada uno.

Empezamos con un FW mezcla de muchos, adaptado por un usuario español del mismo e-book. Es el firmware Tirwal (llamada así por el usuario que se tomó el esfuerzo de montarlo). Si alguien quiere saber más sobre este FW, le recomiendo que se pase por el foro de http://lectoreselectronicos.com/

Primer archivo:
Es un archivo científico, tiene sus formulas, gráficas... Además el texto no es texto editable, es una imagen. Para obtener las imágenes he usado mi viejo escáner.

Primera imagen:
Aunque se ve bien, la letra es muy pequeña, hay que tener muy buena vista para poder leerla, y a riesgo de perderla... Por lo demás la gráfica y las formulas se ven bien. Si se hace zoom, el resultado es lo mismo, precisamente por que decía antes, no hay texto, solo es una imagen. En este FW el zoom del PDF solo reescala el texto aumentando su tamaño.

Segunda imagen:
Si ponemos el modo apaisado, el texto aumenta de tamaño y se puede leer mejor, yo no tendría problemas para leerlo, pero preferiría verlo un poco más grande. La página queda obviamente cortada en tres trozos (normalmente), el tercero es muy pequeño y tiene apenas una o dos lineas de texto.

Tercera imagen:
En este caso, si hacemos zoom, si hay un cambio, pero curiosamente a peor. El zoom produce que las imagenes se pongan de manera que entren en la pantalla enteras, que nadie me pregunte por qué.

Resultado: Lo mejor es ponerlo en modo apaisado, y para este archivo puede ser una manera de leerlo, aunque gente con mala vista no lo aceptaría.

Segundo archivo:
También es un archivo científico. Pero en este caso no son imágenes, es texto de verdad. Con lo que el zoom si hará algo.

Primera imagen:
El problema es el mismo que antes, el texto es pequeño, por lo demás la calidad no es mala.

Segunda imagen:
Si hacemos zoom, el resultado es un desastre... el motivo: las fórmulas, los caracteres extraños, que haya tablas en el texto, cualquier excusa es buena...

Tercera imagen:
El modo apaisado sin zoom, otra vez da el mejor resultado. El texto se ve un poco más grande, aunque quizás aún no sea suficiente para algunos. Al menos las fórmulas se ven a la perfección, ni se deforman ni nada. Si le aplicamos el zoom, el resultado sería la misma basura que antes, pero apaisada, así que me ahorro la imagen.

El resultado en ambos casos, siendo los peores archivos imaginables para este aparato, no es tan malo, se agradecería tener una opción para usar el espacio en blanco alrededor del texto para ampliarlo más de manera que el texto quede ajustado a los bordes, pero eso el FW no lo permite.

Como esto me está quedando un poco largo, dejo el otro firmware, que adelanto se llama OpenInkpot, para otro momento.